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September 07, 2005

Bob Denver

This may sound totally out of place with other, more urgent events, but I miss Bob Denver already.

Although I watched it more frequently than I should have, I wasn't a big fan of Gilligan. It was Denver as Maynard G. Krebs that made a bigger impression on me. I was about eight years old when I first saw The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Like some other kids my age, we watched it for Denver. Being in elementary school, and not knowing anything about the beats, Denver was our introduction to beatniks.

All I knew about beatniks were that the guys had little goatees and wore berets, the woman had very long hair, everyone wore mostly black clothes, and used the word "cool" frequently. I also knew that I wanted to be a beatnik when I grew up, even if I could not articulate a reason for this dubious goal. The one thing I absolutely was certain of is that I didn't want to be a square.

In between the time that Dobie Gillis went off the air and Gilligan was first aired, Denver was a co-star in the film For Those who Think Young. I actually saw this film twice in theaters, first with a World War II film, 633 Squadron, and the second time with A Hard Day's Night. Denver plays the wacky friend of James Darren, named Kelp. Interestingly, this is the same name as the Jerry Lewis character in The Nutty Professor. Future Gilligan co-star, Tina Louise also appears in this film.

Not being the most sophisticated twelve year old, I wasn't going to be suspicious of a film that took its title from a Pepsi commercial. While I considered James Darren passe, as was any singer from the pre-Beatles era, I thought Pamela Tiffen was hot stuff. Nor did it bother me that Frank and Dino's daughters had roles in the film. At that time it was pretty standard that the children of older Hollywood stars have appear in "teenage" films. Seeing this film in a double feature with A Hard Day's Night was an interesting contrast of an older type of film that was targeted towards a young audience with a film that was using a new form of film language coupled with the more contemporary music.

What I remember from For Those who Think Young is a scene on a beach. It took a few moments to figure out that what the audience saw was the upside down chin and lips, painted to look like a face, buried in the sand. Bob Denver, completely buried in the sand, performed what could almost be called a rap piece, with the rest of the cast dancing around him. It sounds kind of dumb, but it was also kind of funny. I have the feeling that if I ever had the chance to see For Those who Think Young again, it would still be the high point of an otherwise negligible movie.

Rest in peace, little buddy.

Posted by peter at September 7, 2005 12:30 PM