The headline read, “Gilligan Dies.” Maybe so. For many of us Bob Denver was just as strongly attached to the character Maynard G. Krebs from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”
Maynard was a beatnik – maybe the only beatnik ever portrayed as a continuing character in a TV show. He was adverse to school and work, didn’t understand Dobie’s attraction to women (in a childlike asexual way), as Dobie didn’t understand Maynard’s continuing desire to see “The Monster That Devoured Cleveland” and watch “the old Endicott Building” get torn down.
As both Maynard G. Krebs and Gilligan, Bob Denver played a simple child in a grown-up’s body. There was no subtext to either character. They were pure and sweetly incorruptible.
Bob Denver’s blessing, having two hit TV shows, was also his curse. Typecast as this simpleton character, he was never able to break out. More recently, he had done radio in Central Pennsylvania, and ran what looked like a homebuilt website.
Though one of America’s best known faces, he was seldom seen in the big time. Maybe, the truth was, in real life Denver was as simple and incorruptible as his characters.