When Gilligan's Island ended, an exhausted Bob Denver got a boat of his own
Gilligan may have been a lazybones, but the actor behind him, Bob Denver, was no stranger to work. In college, he studied pre-law. As he shifted career paths to become an aspiring actor, he paid his bills by working as an athletic director at a school in Pacific Palisades, California. He then began to coach football, basketball and baseball, while teaching history to seventh graders and math to fourth graders. For extra cash, he worked in a post office at night. The guy toiled.
In just his third ever professional acting gig, Denver landed a breakthrough role, as beatnik icon Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He — and the media — credited his sudden fame to a legion of teenage fans.
"The kids dig Maynard and Gilligan," a 32-year-old Denver told the UPI in 1967. "The kids still think of me as one of them and I can't knock that." Unfortunately, at the time of that interview, Gilligan's Island had just been canceled. The show was bumped to make room for Gunsmoke.
Denver found some relief in his show getting the axe. "I've had only one day off in three years," he admitted to the reporter.
You'd think that three solid years of working on Gilligan's Island he would never want to see the water or a boat again. Instead, he found a lake retreat — and a sailboat.
Denver purchased a house on Lake Sherwood, over the mountains and north of Malibu.
"Right after I got the house, I discovered that I hadn't relaxed for an hour in the past seven years," he told The Wichita Beacon at the close of 1967. Denver relished the time to sit on the porch and "fall apart." He particularly enjoyed people watching.
"It's such a gas!" he explained. "Every morning the businessmen who live around the lake are out rowing themselves into shape. Then, after they go to work, the kids show up and play pirate in the marshes." His hideaway was a mere 30-minutes from the production studios, but a world away.
He may have tried to quietly vanish, but he found one way to flex his Hollywood muscle at the idyllic lake. Denver purchased a 14-foot sailboat with a cabin that could accommodate two sleepers. It was the only boat with a cabin on the lake.
The continuous work on Dobie Gillis and Gilligan shifted his outlook on his career. He had gone from making $250 on Dobie to the high six figures on Gilligan. It was time to take the pedal off the gas. Or, well, the wind out of the saild.
"When my next series starts, I'm going to make sure I'm not in every scene like I was with Gilligan," he sighed.