Happy Birthday Bob Denver: Remembering the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star’s Best Moments

by Katie Maloney

Today would have been sitcom icon Bob Denver’s 86th birthday.

Born on January 9, 1935, Denver began his acting career while teaching at Corpus Christi in 1958. At the time, his sister was a secretary on the production lot of the show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. As a favor to his sister, Denver was allowed to audition for the show. To everyone’s surprise, Denver was cast and spent the next four years acting on the show. However, it wasn’t until Denver was cast at Gilligan in the 1964 comedy sitcom, Gilligan’s Island, that his career really took off.

The show followed the hilarious adventures of seven castaways as they tried to survive on an island after being shipwrecked. Denver quickly became a comedy icon as he played the frequently bumbling Gilligan who often accidentally sabotaged the rest of the cast’s attempts at escaping the island. The show ran for three seasons and is still considered a significant part of comedy television history. In honor of what would have been the star’s 86th birthday, we’re rounding up some of Denver’s best moments.

Bob Denver as Gilligan relaxing in a bamboo and rope chair, on set of episode “Voodoo Something to Me.” (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Bob Denver’s Best Gilligan’s Island Moments

It’s impossible to try to rank Denver’s moments of comedic genius. So, in no particular order, here are Denver’s top three television moments.

When Gilligan Just Couldn’t Seem To Get It Right With Ginger

It’s no secret that the men from all over (both on the island and off) were smitten by Ginger. Ginger was a Hollywood actress who wore some of the most beautiful ballgowns throughout the show. During this episode, Gilligan just can’t seem to win as he tries to give Ginger a gift.

When Gilligan Sees A Ghost

Denver’s physical comedy throughout the show really drew in fans. During this episode, Gilligan tries to convince Skipper that there’s a ghost on the island.

Gilligan swears he sees a ghost.

Denver Opens Up About The Island With Dave Letterman

Fans got to see Denver in rare form – as himself instead of Gilligan or another of his television characters. During an appearance on The David Letterman Show on May 27, 1982, Denver opened up about his experiences on the show. During the interview, Letterman jokes about some discrepancies on the show.

“It was very frustrating because it always seemed like other people seemed to be able to come onto the island, but you could never seem to get off,” jokes Letterman.

To which Denver just laughs and agrees. Letterman then asks Denver about something he’s always wondered about the show.

“How did you guys always have different clothes to wear?” asks Letterman as the audience laughs.

“Well, we went through that whole question, and we just decided to just ignore it, Denver laughs. “Because it got too complicated…we said, ‘Just let it go, let them have different clothes every day.'”

Denver also admits that he didn’t know the show would become so famous after it was cancelled in it’s third season.

“I just didn’t think it would rerun for the next 16 years,” says Denver. “I would have gotten a better deal.”

Bob Denver opens up to David Letterman about Gilligan’s Island.