Forever Loyal Bob Denver Takes A Stand On ‘Gilligan’s Island’

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One of the things that I love about the silver age of television are the stories that surface about actors and actresses who act selflessly on behalf of others. I find this so inspiring because the entertainment industry these days seems to be full of inflated egos and a “what’s in it for me attitude”. So, I’m happy to report that I’ve stumbled across another story – this time from the TV show, Gilligan’s Island, and, in particular, the first mate that the island was named after.

I am, of course, talking about actor Bob Denver. While he was the titular character on this critically panned but much-beloved sitcom that only ran for three seasons beginning in 1963, Denver was never one to have much of an ego.  He was already a veteran actor in the industry having co-starred on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as hippie beatnik Maynard G. Krebs. While Denver was flattered to be the center of attention on a show like Gilligan’s Island, he recognized the importance of being surrounded by a talented cast.

Bob Denver takes a stand for his cast members

Forever Loyal Bob Denver Takes A Stand On 'Gilligan's Island'
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, Bob Denver, 1964-67 / Everett Collection

During the first season, however, the ever so humble opening theme song seemed to create a hierarchy of importance by including most of the characters by name in the song. Unfortunately, Dawn Wells, who played sweet and sexy country girl Marianne and Russell Johnson who played the Professor seemed to be relegated to a second-tier and were only referred to as “and the rest” in the theme song.

RELATED: Whatever Happened To Dawn Wells From ‘Gilligan’s Island’?

This really got Denver’s goat and, as you might guess, it didn’t make Wells and Johnson feel very good either. Anyone who watched the show knows that all of the cast members were equally important. It also didn’t help that, at the time, it seemed like fiery redhead Tina Louise who played the aptly-named movie star Ginger was getting the lion’s share of the press’s attention. Even way back then if you put a gorgeous lady on your cover, you were bound to sell more copies of your magazine. But let’s get back to Wells and Johnson.

A demand to redo the theme song

Forever Loyal Bob Denver Takes A Stand On 'Gilligan's Island'
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, from top: Tina Louise, Bob Denver, Dawn Wells, (1964), 1964-1967. ph: Ron Thal / TV Guide / Courtesy Everett Collection

By the time the first season was drawing to a conclusion, Gilligan’s Island was a bonafide hit and Denver felt like he had the clout necessary to go to creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz and make a demand.  His demand was simply this, he told Sherwood that he needed to redo the song so that all of the characters were treated equally and that meant squeezing in the names of Wells’ and Johnson’s characters.

At first, Schwartz and team fought the idea claiming that it would cost too much money to get everyone back into the studio.  However, after Denver demanded that his name – the name of Gilligan – be removed from the song if no action was taken; well, then Schwartz and team felt like they had no recourse and gave in.

A life-long friendship in the books

Forever Loyal Bob Denver Takes A Stand On 'Gilligan's Island'
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Alan Hale, Jr., 1964-1967 / Everett Collection

As a matter of record, the season one theme song was sung by a folk group called The Wellingtons. While the revised theme song from seasons two and three wasn’t credited to any particular group or band, years later Russell Johnson would say that it had been performed by a group called The Eligibles.

Over the years until his passing Bob Denver remained close friends with both Russell Johnson and especially Dawn Wells. Clearly, in the age-old Marianne versus Ginger debate, Denver had made his decision.

RELATED: Which Gilligan’s Island Character Are You?

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The post Forever Loyal Bob Denver Takes A Stand On ‘Gilligan’s Island’ appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Dave Sundstrom

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