On January 9, 1935, Robert Osbourne David Denver was born in New Rochelle, New York. He is known to be “distinguished-sounding,” just like the real name seems a bit incongruous for the actor. He achieved worldwide fame playing “Gilligan,” a perennial goofball. The real-life Denver was almost a direct dichotomy to the character.
Career of Denver
Introvert, shy, well-read, and highly intelligent from his youth and on his way to adulthood, Denver and his family moved to Brownwood, where he grew up. After high school, he moved to California, where he enrolled at a college in L.A. Denver, then earned a degree in political science, and then he held a job of mailman for a short time after which he became a high school teacher. Alongside he was considering a career in law when he got bit by the acting bug.
His stage debut was in West Coast production of “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” during the late fifties. Soon after this, he made his movie debut in the year 1959 in a film named “A Private’s Affair.” It was in 1959 itself when the actor got his first big break. He was cast as beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on the TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” Maynard successfully became one of the television’s first icons and “breakout characters.” Even though we know Denver more by the character of Gilligan, he played Maynard in more episodes, and it was Maynard who was later selected as “TV guide’s 50 greatest TV character”.
In 1964, Denver was cast in his signature roles as bumbling. The role was earlier offered to Dick Van Dyke’s younger brother Jerry who eventually turned it down. Despite getting negative reviews from the critics, Gilligan’s Island became one of the most re-run shows in the history of television.
Like many characters, after the Gilligan’s Island became off-air, Denver battled the TV icon’s greatest enemy – typecasting. Even though he was successful in moving from Maynard to Gilligan, after the cancellation of Gilligan’s Island, Denver’s career became much more nebulous and spotty. He realized that he would be forever known as “Gilligan” to millions of fans around the world. He embraced the stereotyping and voiced his signature role in two cartoon spin-offs and three TV movies. He also reprised the Gilligan role in several TV series, including “Baywatch” and “Alf,” including a few more.
His personal life
It was in the year 1993, and he wrote his memoirs “Gilligan, Maynard and Me.” The book, like it’s the author, is entertaining and fun, with the minor caveat of Robert’s slightly harsh words for former co-star Tina Lousie.
Life hasn’t been too easy for Denver. In 1976, he was charged for “Driving without a license”, and “Driving under the influence”. He refused for a blood or alcohol test. Later in 1998, he made headlines when he was arrested for possession of marijuana.
He married four times in real life, Dreama Perry was the love of his life whom he married in the year 1979.
Denver became a radio personality in the later years when he moved to his adopted home of Princeton, West Virginia. It was later in 2005 when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was treated at a Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital and died at the age of 70 in Winson-Salem on September 2, 2005.
Life for Denver was not so easy going as it seemed to be. Although he was successful in establishing a character that the audience still remembers, this made his future more difficult as the fans found it difficult to move on from a strong character like Gilligan.