Bob Denver

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.

Paul Winchell

Every time I write about a dead person I say, “no more.” And yet, so many interesting people continue to die. Maybe it’s something about being interesting that hastens death? In any event, I read about Paul Winchell’s death this afternoon.

As a kid I knew him as a ventriloquist; the straight man for Jerry Mahoney. The generation following mine knew him more as the voice of “Tigger” from Winney the Poo or numerous Saturday morning cartoons&#185. Paul Winchell is the guy who first said, “TTFN – ta ta for now” – an ad lib during a Poo audio session!

I also knew he had something to do with a few medical inventions, including heart valves and an artificial heart!

Today, I decided to read about what he had done. Who knew there was a Paul Winchell website? They’ll have to change the slogan, “A living legend.”

I read his story of the artificial heart and there’s something about it that makes me uneasy. Maybe it’s his participating in his own son’s tonsillectomy or surgeries at a research hospital in Utah… I don’t know, I’m just uneasy.

I’ve been an observer in operating rooms in the past. It’s not that he was there, but that he was involved. And yet, if my current attitude would have prevailed, his inventions wouldn’t have gotten out.

Anyway, let’s leave it with me being uneasy and calling it a day.

The bigger story with Paul Winchell has to do with typecasting. Sometimes it’s easy to look at someone who has defined himself to the public with his work and forget that what you know might only be a small subset of the total person.

&#185 – This is similar to the Anne B. Davis method of age estimation. If you look at a picture of Anne B. Davis and say, “Alice,” you’re under 50. If you look at a picture of Anne B. Davis and say “Schultzy,” you’re over 50. Simple. This can also be done with Bob Denver and Ron Howard.