Recently I was featured in an Eyewitness News segment here in Los Angeles. Click one of the links below to watch the piece.
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I want to share a few thoughts about my dear friend, Bob Denver, who passed away on Friday, September 2, 2005. Bob and I have been friends for over fifty years. We both attended Loyola University in Los Angeles. I knew him briefly from his work with the Del Rey Players, the college theatre group. In 1958 he came in to audition for the role of Maynard G. Krebs opposite my character, Dobie Gillis. I had already been cast and the producers asked me to test on film with all the actors they were interested in for the role of Maynard. I must have tested with twenty actors, some good, most not. It was the end of the day and as I was leaving the studio the producer called me back to test with one more actor. It was a favor to a secretary on the lot - it was her brother. When I returned to the set I was amazed to see that the secretary’s brother was Bob Denver. From the moment we began to read the lines all the other actors who had auditioned for the role just evaporated. Bob and I had a rhythm and timing that was instant and a new comedy duo was born.
For the next four seasons, I had the privilege to be Bob’s straight man. My favorite line? "Maynard, go home and feed your iguana." Maynard’s reply? "He don’t need me, Dobe, he can open the refrigerator door himself."
After Dobie Gillis ended its run, the next season Bob landed the title role of "Gilligan" and for the rest of his life, he and that character would become one.
Bob was a gentle comedian and wonderful with physical comedy. Everyone loved Maynard and Gilligan; they were both characters that you could identify with and root for.
We worked together on two Dobie Gillis reunion Movies of the Week in the 1970’s and 80’s and several years ago I joined him in the "Surviving Gilligan’s Island" movie. We had always hoped to work together again as Dobie and Maynard.
In fifty years we never had a harsh word. My wife Joan, son Albert, and I send our love and prayers to Bob's beautiful wife, Dreama and his wonderful children. I will always cherish my friendship with Bob and feel honored to have been his straight man..."Goodnight, Maynard - now go feed your iguana."
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