Before ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Bob Denver was Joined by ‘Happy Days’ Actor Ron Howard on ‘Dobie Gillis’

by Joe Rutland

Talk about your sitcom mashup, Outsiders. Bob Denver, before his success on “Gilligan’s Island,” starred in another show with Ron Howard.

Howard, obviously, played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days.” So, what show did Denver and Howard both appear on at the same time? “Dobie Gillis,” or as it is formally called “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”

Howard was a young boy at the time and, between 1959-61, he popped up in four episodes filling different roles.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Played Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on ‘Dobie Gillis’ for four seasons

In 1959, Howard played Georgie in “Dobie’s Birthday Party.” In 1960, he appeared as Dan Adams in “Room at the Bottom.” That same year, Howard was a little boy eating a candy bar in “Where There’s a Will.” Then, in 1961, he portrayed a little boy with a ray gun in “Take Me to Your Leader.” He started playing Opie on “Andy Griffith” in 1960 as a regular cast member.

Denver played beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, who was the best friend of Gillis, played by Dwayne Hickman.

Now, this sitcom finished its four-season run on CBS. But Outsiders who love their classic TV remember Denver playing a bumbling first mate on “Gilligan’s Island.” That show would run for three seasons, also on CBS.

So, that would make Denver one busy dude for seven straight TV seasons. “Gilligan’s Island” was quite popular on CBS and even was targeted to be picked up for a fourth season. But that didn’t happen and the “three-hour tour” came to an end.

Well, the show ended its network run but has remained a popular syndicated TV show for five decades.

Famed Stand-Up Comedian Would Make Guest Appearance In Show’s Third Season

Other cast members on “Gilligan’s Island” included Alan Hale Jr., Russell Johnson, Tina Louise, Dawn Wells, Jim Backus, and Natalie Schafer. The TV show also would have a who’s-who of guest stars. You might even catch some people who were famous, yet in another realm of show business.

One of those cats happened to be Don Rickles, or as fans of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” remember him being introduced as “Mr. Warmth.”

Carson was joking around with Rickles because the comic’s stand-up bit was about hurling insults at people. He made a living at that for decades.

Well, Outsiders, he showed up on one episode called “The Kidnapper.” Rickles played Norbett Wiley, a conniving criminal. Wiley held Ginger [Louise], Mary Ann [Wells], and Mrs. Howell [Schafer] hostage.

Thankfully, the guys take him away. The “Gilligan’s Island” folk let Norbert go.

By the time this show aired in 1966, Rickles was already a known stand-up coming in nightclubs from Las Vegas to Miami Beach.