‘Gilligan’s Island’: Why Bob Denver Wasn’t Able to Join the U.S. Army

by Katie Maloney
Photo by Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

Bob Denver was served with draft papers in 1959. Here’s why the Gilligan’s Island star wasn’t he able to join the army and serve.

Countless entertainers served in the military before hitting it big in show business. Actors include Chuck Norris, Tom Sellek, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and so many more. Some entertainers even had to put their careers on hold in order to serve in the military during such as Elvis Presley. However, other actors never had the chance to join the military because of pre-existing conditions or injuries. Such was the case for Gilligan’s Island actor Bob Denver.

While filming episodes for the show Dobie Gillis in 1959, Bob Denver was served his draft papers. He had only acted in three episodes before receiving the papers. But, when duty calls, you answer. So, Denver’s departure was written into the show with the episode titled “Maynard’s Farewell to the Troops.” And the show hired actor Michael J. Pollard to play Denver’s replacement character, Maynard’s cousin, Jerome Krebs. However, as fate would have it, Denver was labeled as 4-F — unfit for military service — because of a previous neck injury from 1956. Luckily, the show saw Denver’s talents and rehired him.

Gilligan’s Island Star Bob Denver Saved A Life While On The Show

He may not have saved any lives by serving in the military. But the Gilligan’s Island star certainly ended up saving lives through his work on the show. In fact, one woman even claimed that Bob Denver saved her daughter’s life. During an interview in 1993, Denver talked about a letter he received from one fan.

“One woman said, ‘Thank you for saving my daughter’s life,’” said Denver. “Her daughter was in a coma from a car accident. She was like nine and her favorite show was Gilligan’s Island. It would come on at three or four in the afternoon. Every day she would turn it on and say to the little girl, ‘This is your favorite show. You should really wake up and watch it.'”

The girl’s mother continued to play Gilligan’s Island every day for her daughter.

“She was in a coma for a long time,” said Denver. “She said one time, ‘Here is your favorite episode.’ And the little girl opened her eyes, sat up, and said, ‘OK, Mom.’ She came out of the coma just to watch the show. I said, ‘You are certainly welcome.’”

So, in the end, Bob Denver may have saved more lives on the big screen than he was meant to in the military. We still thank you for your service, Bob Denver!