May you die on a slow news day.
That is my wish for all aging sitcom stars.
Had it not been for Hurricane Katrina, all the networks would have had glowing obituaries of the late actor Bob Denver, best known for his portrayal of Gilligan on the 1960s television show “Gilligan’s Island.” There would have been clips form the show and comments from the actors who played The Professor and Mary Ann and Ginger. And famous people would have reminisced about their favorite episodes.
All across the country, people from all walks of life would join hands and sing "Sit right back and you'll hear a tale.."
As it was, all we got was this terse announcement:
“Actor Bob Denver, who played the title role in the television sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” died due to complications from cancer. He was 70 years old.”
He was a cultural icon and all he rates is two sentences?
Of course, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rhenquist didn’t that get much air time either. And that’s real history in the making.
I’m not faulting the networks. The hurricane brought an American city to its knees and for the first time in forever, reporters are asking hard questions and making politicians squirm. This is a good thing.
But when you die, you deserve a good send-off and poor Bob Denver got cheated.
So I will pay tribute here.
I loved Bob Denver since I first saw him as Maynard G. Krebs on the old Dobie Gillis show. I don’t know why. I was only four years old and didn’t understand half of what the show was about, but something about Maynard appealed to me. Here was a grown up acting like a kid. He played the bongos and squeaked “Work!” in a panic whenever the word was mentioned. My kind of guy.
Gilligan appeared when I was a more sophisticated nine years old. I was smart enough to know they’d never get off the island and I also questioned why Ginger and the Howells had brought along such an extensive wardrobe for a three hour tour. It was a stupid show but it was fun.
It’s also a show I’d let my daughter watch, and there aren’t too many of those out there these days.
I even watched a show he did in the late sixties called “The Good Guys” in which he co-starred with Herb Edelman. As I recall, it was about two buddies running a diner. The diner wasn’t the island and Edleman wasn’t the Skipper. Needless to say, it was cancelled after a short run.
Bob Denver was married for 28 years and had four children. He lived here in North Carolina. He devoted much of his time to helping the handicapped. His former co-stars have said quite sincerely that he was a really nice guy. And I'm sure he was.
So long little buddy. We'll miss you.