Saw the news today that Bob Denver, best known as the title character in "Gilligan's Island," had died. I'm not someone who gets that emotional when a popular figure passes on; My wife and mother-in-law, for example, have sometimes bawled over the death of a celebrity (my wife still gets choked up whenever an old Three's Company rerun pops up - she was a HUGE John Ritter fan). But that's not me.
Usually I think, 'what a shame' .. he/she was great in (fill in the blank) movie/tv show. But I rarely feel as if I've lost someone close to me. Why should I? I didn't know them personally.
With Bob Denver, it was different. He was the star of my favorite sitcom ever. I remember being 6 years old, watching reruns of 'Gilligan' back in Miami (during the days of 4 channels) after school. And watching them -- again and again and again. I bet I've seen every episode of that series a couple dozen times each over the years. And that's why the show is a perfect sitcom. Because people like me, who weren't even born when the show was first on, call it their favorite sitcom. And you can watch it over and over again.
The radioactive vegetables episode? Sure, I know what happens, but I still watch it every time my channel-surfing brings me to TBS. Why? Because watching Gilligan lift those phony props thanks to the radioactive-boosted spinach IS FUNNY! That's just me; I find silly 60's sitcom humor entertaining .. and nobody best exemplified this type of comedy than Bob Denver.
Although he was around 30 years old when the show started, Denver still played the role like a teenager, and I liked that. I identified with him because he was the kid who felt the grownups didn't take him seriously. Of course, he did wreck about 56 chances for them to get off the island .. but that's not the point. I could identify with him. I liked all the other castaways, for various reasons (Mary Ann guys. It's all about Mary Ann) ..but I could identify with Gilligan. Sure he pissed off the Skipper alot .. but without him .. the girls wouldn't have been able to make coconut cream pies. You don't think all those coconuts just fell off the tree, do you?
Here's how much I loved that silly show. When I was in college, I walked into a Gap store and bought .. a Gilligan hat. No kidding. As soon as I saw it .. that's what I called it and bought it on the spot .. purely for the fact that it was a chance to sport the same hat Gilligan did. Now if only they would have had the red rugby shirt.
My wife met Bob Denver during a promotional interview a few years ago .. on a boat! I've had the pleasure of meeting several celebrities .. but that was one celeb sighting I wished I could have made. Because to this day, a big smile comes across my face whenever I watch an old Gilligan's episode.
So here's to you, Bob Denver. You made a lot of kids, in age and in attitude, happy. And this 34-year-old kid wants to say thanks.
Rest in Peace, Little Buddy