‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Bob Denver Played Extremely Similar Role to Gilligan in Western, ‘Dusty’s Trail’

by Chris Haney

In 1973, Gilligan’s Island actor Bob Denver took a very similar role to Gilligan in a western television show called Dusty’s Trail.

From 1964 to 1967, Denver played the lovable and goofy title role on Gilligan’s Island. Although it lasted only three seasons, it became a cult classic as re-runs continued for decades after it went off-air. Six years later, Denver received another offer for a title role and he accepted.

You’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of his time as Dusty on Dusty’s Trail. It only lasted one season, but they filmed 26 episodes of the western set in the 1870s. The premise, like Gilligan’s Island, often revolved around Denver’s mishaps.

The ’70s television show is based on a stagecoach and a wagon that are traveling west for California. Five passengers and two coachmen get separated from their wagon train because of Dusty. The sitcom follows the cast on their journey to reunite with the rest of the group as they continue their trek to California.

While the show may have been short-lived, it highlighted Bob Denver’s talents as always. It may not have had the same impact as Gilligan’s Island, but was another example of the late actor’s comedic chops.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Actor Dawn Wells Once Shared Why Bob Denver Was So Great

In 2008, Gilligan’s Island star Dawn Wells opened up about her role on the hit show and revealed why her co-star Bob Denver was such a “genius.”

Wells covered her entire career in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation on Dec. 23, 2008. She reflected on the beginnings of her career on stage, and of course spoke about her time on TV and in movies. Since she’s most well-known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island, the pair talked at length about the show.

At one point, the conversation turned to her co-star Bob Denver. She spoke about his rare ability to never have to rehearse his scenes. His natural talent and comedic intuition would always come through in a single take.

“He became the characters. He didn’t rehearse it. There was a youth inside of Bob, a child inside of Bob, that came through. He would do these little things all of a sudden, take one boom, and it would be done. He didn’t rehearse it… There was a genius inside of him,” Wells explained to the Television Academy Foundation.

“He was a remarkable man. We lost him way too soon,” she added. “I was very privileged to be one of the few people that Bob had to his home, and shared his life with.”