Bob Denver, 70, who played the lovably inept first mate, Gilligan, on the 1960s CBS television show Gilligan’s Island, died Friday at Wake Forest (N.C.) University Baptist Hospital from complications of cancer treatment, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt.
Denver’s death was first reported by Entertainment Tonight.
Denver’s wife, Dreama, and his children Patrick, Megan, Emily and Colin, were with him when he died. "Bob is the finest human being I have ever known," Dreama Denver said in a statement released by Eisenstadt.
Gilligan’s Island debuted on CBS in 1964, a black-and-white show that converted to color. It was roundly panned by the critics but found a loyal fan base.
The show’s seven characters—Gilligan, the Skipper, a millionaire and his wife, a movie star, the professor, and Mary Anne (a farm girl)—had been stranded on a desert isle after what was supposed to have been a three-hour boat tour.
The show’s hallmarks were slapstick comedy and goofy plot lines, with Denver and Alan Hale Jr. as the Skipper, in a Laurel and Hardy relationship of friendship strained but never broken by Gilligan's ineptitude.. Many episodes revolved around the characters hatching a scheme to get off the island, with most of those comically foiled by Gilligan.
Though Gilligan’s Island ended in 1964, the show lived on in TV movie versions and two animated series (which featured Denver’s voice). The popular favorite even inspired a TBS reality show, The Real Gilligan’s Island.
Denver first gained TV fame as goateed beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis from 1959 to 1963. Denver published the autobiography Gilligan, Maynard and Me in 1993.