Rumors persisted for years that Bob Denver died in the Sixties, and no one knows why

The rumors started while he was still on Dobie Gillis and continued until Gilligan’s Island. Sometimes fans would mourn him to his face.

In 1960, Bob Denver was barely into the first season of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, in which he played a beatnik named Maynard G. Krebs. Although the show and his character proved popular, that was the same year that newspapers declared beatniks as a culture "dead," and we think this might have led to one of the biggest rumors in Bob Denver's acting career: that Bob Denver died in 1960.

Even though Denver continued to appear as Maynard G. Krebs, the rumor mill churned out all kinds of theories on how Denver passed. Some theories circled around the bathroom, imagining Denver met this mythical fate by electrocuting himself in the bathtub or from a deep wound caused by carelessly shaving that beatnik beard of his.

"I don't know where it got started, but every time I think I've got it squashed, it pops up again," Denver told The Tampa Times in 1961. "One day I got a telephone call from a newspaperman who wanted to know who my press agent was. I told him I didn't have a press agent, but it was a long time before he believed me. He figured the whole thing was a publicity stunt."

At least one person bought into the rumor of Denver's supposed death so deeply that they concocted a conspiracy theory that two actors played Maynard G. Krebs!

"Experts in the matter of false rumors tell me these things usually die a normal death after six months," Denver told the papers. "The only trouble is, this story has been circulating for nearly a year now. I got on a plane one day and one of the passengers insisted I was the second fellow to play the part of Maynard Krebs."

Other Dobie Gillis fans simply didn't recognize Denver… and ended up mourning Denver's loss right to his face.

"In San Diego, someone told me I looked just like the fellow on Dobie Gillis who was killed," Denver said. "On another plane, someone else said to me, 'Isn't it too bad about that beatnik kid on Dobie Gillis?'"

"Who do they think I am?" Denver asked, perplexed.

Denver never fully understood why this fake death rumor persisted as long as it did.

"Anyway, I'm alive and I guess in pretty good company," Denver joked in 1961. "Usually rumors like this only spread about big stars like Frank Sinatra."

A year into these crazy rumors, Denver vowed to move on from caring that some people in the world thought he was dead. He was pretty busy because, on top of being a very visible and alive TV star, he had also literally moved, settling his family into a giant mansion fixer-upper.

"I'm not going to worry about it any longer," Denver said. "There are enough other things to worry about. My wife, our two sons and our animals have just moved into a big, rambling house. Why couldn't we be like ordinary people and move into a modern house? So far, our water pipes have broken five times, our lights keep going on and off, our sprinkler system doesn't work and I planted a lawn that died."

"Hey, maybe that's where the story started," Denver joked. "Get that straight, it was my lawn that died."

When Denver talked to The Tampa Times in 1961, he told the reporter, "If you can help stop this story, I'm with you."

But we found evidence that the 1961 story fully denying the rumors still wasn't enough to stop them, not even three years later.

In 1964, Denver had just spent a year off after Dobie Gillis. He told Fort Lauderdale News that he turned down five TV shows and three movies because they were all too much like his Dobie character Maynard.

You can hardly blame him for being done playing beatniks. In a way, you could say his role as Maynard G. Krebs had nearly killed him, at least in the public eye.

Instead of diving into the next acting gig, Denver spent some time as the man of the old house he bought.

"I figured, I couldn't go on playing Maynard forever," Denver said. "I may not have grown as an actor during that year, but I sure discovered things you can do at home. I landscaped the place twice, learned how to use a set of power tools, how to drain an automobile radiator, and discovered that a motorcycle is the answer to the traffic problem."

While Denver was busy with home repairs and motorcycle rides, the rumor of his death came roaring back to life when a fan in Tennessee sent in a question to a TV column in The Manhattan Mercury in 1964.

"Sometime ago, I heard that Bob Denver who played Maynard on Dobie Gillis was killed in an accident," wrote Mrs. R.T. in Memphis. "Is this just another of those awful rumors or is it true?"

The columnist assured Mrs. R.T. of the truth, revealing she wasn't the only one wondering, and also sharing big news for Bob Denver fans in mourning:

"This is one of the most persistent rumors our mailbag has ever had. Bob Denver is hale and hearty and will be seen as the star of his own series next season titled Gilligan's Island."

After Gilligan's Island became a hit, a funny thing happened. Suddenly, fans believed a new rumor: that Denver really was an island castaway. They actually contacted the Coast Guard when the show aired to try and save him and everybody else on the island.

Hey, at least they knew Bob Denver was alive to need saving!

Denver was excited when Gilligan's Island came along, not just because he'd been waiting for the next gig, but also because he had finally become bored puttering around his big old house.

Of joining the cast, Denver told Fort Lauderdale News the role came just in time. "I've done EVERYTHING you can do at home," he swore.

"My wife will be happy to get me out of the house," the very much alive-and-well star joked to Miami News.

You know what they say — happy wife, happy life — and any fan who somehow still believes Bob Denver passed away in the Sixties should note that really at that time, he definitely had both!

Watch Gilligan's Island on MeTV!

Sundays 3 & 3:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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JHP 36 months ago
living with the darlings did him in
sputnik_57 38 months ago
Interesting story. There was a brief rumor that Erik Estrada (CHiPs) died from a motorcycle wreck while filming an episode. He was badly injured.
CouchPotato19 38 months ago
It was the 60's, everyone was doing drugs or drank like crazy.
CaptainDunsel 38 months ago
"How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again!" Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2
Natte1955 38 months ago
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Tresix 38 months ago
This up there with the “death” of Paul MacCartney and the various male child stars who were “killed” in Vietnam.

The “second” Maynard reminds me of the rumor the Bruce Lee had died right after “The Green Hornet” was canceled. Then I remembered seeing the trailer for “Fists of Fury” and I recognized the star and his name. “That’s the man who played Kato!” I told my friend. “But Kato’s dead.” he told me. “No, that’s him.” That made me wonder if there was another actor who played Kato. There wasn’t.
Tresix Tresix 38 months ago
Should say “This is up there”.
Bonnie 38 months ago
I don't understand why people have to make up stuff .I guess they don't have anything else to do with there lives
Wiseguy Bonnie 38 months ago
their lives
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
It’s interesting that it’s almost impossible to kill something once it’s out there. Happens more frequently these days. Seems any fool can say anything and a lot of people will believe it without any proof.
Wiseguy MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
Like what the idiots on FOX News believe.
Haha, I know! Like almost everything the Democrats say!
Andybandit 38 months ago
Interesting story. I wish Dobie Gillis was on MeTV, but Metv does not have rights to air that show.
tmac1951 Andybandit 38 months ago
It’s on Pluto tv, free
StrayCat Andybandit 38 months ago
I believe METV did have Dobie Gillis at one time. I think it was in some early morning time slot.
trogg888 StrayCat 36 months ago
true that
LoveMETV22 38 months ago
Bravo to texasluva and Moody- just logged in. But whomever was stirring things up there other places on the internet for that-also the spelling trolls that love to correct articles and others spelling can go elsewhere, don't ruin things for everyone else.
Wiseguy LoveMETV22 38 months ago
Whoever, not whomever. Writers are supposed to know what they're doing, why shouldn't people correct them? But spelling isn't the issue, it's grammar. People are supposed to learn it when they're ten but apparently most haven't. And if people don't care how they speak and write their own language, then they should be corrected.
Deleted 38 months ago
This comment has been removed.
texasluva 38 months ago
Depends on what your comment is and how its posted. Every web site chat has rules that apply to everyone. A jib or jest in fun actually is welcome by most. Bullying or hateful posting could get your post deleted. I would keep the political and religion low key. Most thoughts welcomed if not gone overboard.
texasluva 38 months ago
After reading your postings (which I had not before) you seem to have a personal agenda which really seems kind of awkward. You are attempting to rile up others with theories that are not even being close to the truth. We are not here to debate most of them. TV shows, series, classic movies, actors of said movies or something interesting in general is what most are looking for. Sharing decent thoughts and even hobbies or awesome stories from the past. Insights to others that might not know about history.
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
Someone posting political stuff in a story about Gillian? I don’t see the connection. 🤔
texasluva 38 months ago
Most of that persons postings have been deleted. Worse then political some are. You might be able to click on my name and then see the posts and follow. They seem to still show up but not on these posts boards. One was like sticking something up someones you know what. As you can see the others none too happy about them. I went back to read all of them and whomever this person is should not post here, ever again.
texasluva 38 months ago
Click on my name. See post with baseballgirl and click to see them. Not sure if it was some baiting or just a few loose screws.
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
Interesting. Kind of an odd site to post stuff like that.
texasluva 38 months ago
There's is another poster today doing the same exact thing. Obvious it's the same baseballgirl character but different ID name. They will never get it. There are no rules or regulations to them.
RadioMattM 38 months ago
I remember hearing in 1966 that he died when a radio fell into his bath tub. We had just moved back from Germany and must not have seen Gilligan’s Island yet.
LaDolceVita 38 months ago
How does somebody look at a person and think they are dead when they see right in front of them they are not? i find that very strange.
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago

!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
Those that wish to participate in the Weekly Movie Quiz.
Conversation as to what this movie might be. Along with a music vid, Movie trailer and PC background pic. Drive-in movie will be provided.
Winners name in MeTV Lights
Just plain ole fun
Friday Night....Friday Night .....We all get together on Friday Night!
Let's go to: Can you complete these famous Bugs Bunny lines?
No later then 10:00 P.M CT (start time)
Bonus movie also provided (no guess needed) Requested blockbuster tonight.
Next weeks quiz and bonus will be in the Horror and Sci-fi genre.

MrsPhilHarris texasluva 38 months ago
Gah! War movie night.

You know you don’t have to do these quizzes so late on my account. You can do them at the earlier time. Bad grammar! 😜
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
It is okay. Not on your account or request. Moody is my time and so is AWL. Not sure about LMNN or Lynn. I do not mind that time.

No Gah! Or War Movies this week. Though there will always be that chance. Most though will have a larger story to tell then then a knock down drag out war. Next week will be sci-fi/Horror. I am 90% done with that one. I have so many awesome movies now it is hard to pick myself. That is another reason for the bonus movies. I will be at times adding a Drive-in one that has start to finish. Food commercials at the snack bar- Coming attractions-cartoon and main movie(s). Some are really good while some of the coming attractions I never heard of or really gaudy
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 38 months ago
I love those old “Let’s all go to the lobby/snack bar” films of walking snacks, weiners doing tricks, etc. that would show at drive-in theatres.
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
You will be getting that tonight along with the other quiz, bonus and music themes. In fact one of the funnier ones (coming attractions, though video on that is bad, main movie though real good quality) is called The Beach Girls and the Monster (yeh yeh yeh) LOL. It has the pop corn and also a space ship through the solar system of snack bar treats. Cartoon then feature movie. Bonus movie, quiz. What more could one want
cperrynaples 38 months ago
Never knew about the Bob Denver death rumors! But here's a good Bonus Question: What MeTV star was supposed to have died in Vietnam? Hint: Not only is he alive, but he even made a call to his brother from 60 years in the future!
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cperrynaples harlow1313 38 months ago
Love that joke, Harlow! Yes, it was mistakenly assumed that the Beaver was drafted and killed! Shelly Winters spread that false story on The Tonight Show, but it was another Jerry Mathers! Fun Fact: A teenage Mathers appeared on Batman!
daDoctah cperrynaples 38 months ago
Yeah, as "Pop", the stage-door manager at a theatre, a role traditionally called Pop despite in this case being a teenager.

The other LITB cast member about whom unfounded rumors flourished was Ken "Eddie Haskell" Osmond. For some reason people got the idea he grew up and became Alice Cooper.
Barry22 harlow1313 38 months ago
Mathers received a medal for bravery after leading his troops to safety under heavy fire. They hid in a giant coffee cup that was on a billboard.
cperrynaples daDoctah 38 months ago
Actually, he became porn star John Holmes...LOL! In actually, Osmond joined the LAPD and even appeared on To Tell The Truth!
harlow1313 38 months ago
Well, despite what this article claims, I believe Bob Denver is dead.
AnnieM harlow1313 38 months ago
You'd think that the article would have made mention of his *actual* death in 2005!
daDoctah 38 months ago
Denver made an appearance on Jay Ward and Hans Conried's "Fractured Flickers" program between the two roles, telling Conried how he had shaved off Maynard's beard and wanted to do other roles, like taking a part as Iago in Shakespeare's "Othello". Conried quietly informed him that Iago is usually played with a little beard, like the one he had just shaved off.
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