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Robert Osbourne “Bob” Denver (January 9, 1935 – September 2, 2005) was a television actor best known for playing Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island. For the final years of his life, he settled in Princeton, Mercer County, where he established a non-profit organization and radio station.

Denver was born in New Rochelle, New York. While he was a teenager, Denver’s family relocated to California. After graduating high school, he attended Loyola University in Los Angeles.

In 1959, Denver was cast as the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on the CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He starred opposite the series’ lead, Dwayne Hickman, who had been a classmate of Denver’s at Loyola. During the first season, Tuesday Weld and Warren Beatty were also members of the cast. The series ran for four seasons, from 1959-1963.

In 1964, Denver took on his most popular role, that of Gilligan on the CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island. The series, which followed the comedic misadventures of seven individuals shipwrecked on an island, ran for three seasons, from 1964-1967. Denver reprised the character in three follow-up television movies: 1978’s Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, 1979’s The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island, and 1981’s The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. Denver also voiced the character on two animated spin-offs, The New Adventures of Gilligan (1974-1975) and Gilligan’s Planet (1982-1983).

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Denver also guest starred on a number of television shows, including Fantasy Island, ALF, Baywatch, Roseanne, and The Simpsons.

Denver was married four times. He met his fourth wife, Dreama Perry Denver, a Bluefield native, in 1977 while they were both playing the leads in a Florida production of Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam (Denver had replaced Allen in the lead role on Broadway in 1970). The couple married in 1979 and Dreama gave birth to their son, Colin, in 1984. Colin was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and was also eventually diagnosed with severe autism.

In 1991, Denver and his family moved to Princeton. In 1993, Denver and Dreama founded The Denver Foundation, a non-profit designed to assist individuals with special needs in West Virginia. Along with The Denver Foundation, they founded the Princeton radio station known as Little Buddy Radio (93.1FM), with all proceeds for the station going toward the foundation and its mission. In 2010, the Denver Foundation’s mission expanded to include the Always Free Honor Flight, which assists West Virginia veterans in visiting national veteran memorials in Washington D.C.

Denver died in 2005 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He had been battling cancer and heart complications. In addition to Colin, Denver also fathered another son, Patrick, and two daughters, Megan and Emily, from previous marriages.

As of May 2021, plans were underway to house a Bob Denver Museum in the renovated Princeton Renaissance Theater.

This Article was written by Jeffrey Webb

Last Revised on May 10, 2022


Sources

Beard, David. “Gilligan’s Dreams: Dreama Denver talks about her book, her life with TV icon Bob Denver, and raising their autistic son.”. The Dominion Post, July 7, 2021.

Martin, Douglas. “Bob Denver Is Dead at 70; Star of 'Gilligan's Island.”. New York Times, September 7, 2005.

Jordan, Greg. “Princeton Renaissance Theater plans on housing Bob Denver Museum.”. Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 9, 2021.

Cite This Article

Webb, Jeffrey "Bob Denver." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 10 May 2022. Web. 24 September 2022.

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