For those young/old enough to have
seen the original Dobie Gillis shows, Maynard G Krebs
(played by actor Bob Denver, 1935-2005) made an indelible
Some people are dismissive or critical of the character,
saying it was part of the 50's era belittling of or
at least a distortion of the Beat movement. Some people
say the character was camp and funny and funky and
faux, was instrumental in establishing an enduring
and beloved image of beatniks to the American public,
and contributed to their consciousness.
With the help of the BeatMobile, Polarity Magazine
(www.poembeat.com) asked a number of writers, musicians
and artists to comment on the passing of Bob Denver,
aka Maynard G Krebs, on Sept 6, 2005.
MOE ALEXANDER, Poet, Past Friend of Bob's, Massachussetts
I knew and lived with Bob. He was more of a beatnik
than anyone realized He was surrounded and touched
by that creative life. Remember that his ex wife Maggie
Denver was Bob Dylan's person at Grossman's office
(Maggies Farm). Bob was friends with Hoyt Axton. He
was unpretentious. He knew the entire history of theater
inside and out. He was an expert on vaudeville. He
was also very quiet and shy. He had both sides to
him. Outgoing and reflective.
Made me laugh
There were also tears
that I knew about
His past wives
Sure that they cried,
many long nights
Having to drive him home
Late at night
Or Afraid to leave
Bob just too drunk,
To go anywhere
That Bob made
He made so many Americans
His television shows
Made so many people
Never was part of my life
I knew him personally
Was the funniest man
i ever met
He made me laugh
We drove together
Laughed in Northern
Dean Martin?s yard
Bob pissed right there
In front of the porch
Bob sitting up all night
About the neighbors
About the day?s news
About the day
We just got through
With lots of laughter
We laughed so hard
We would fall out of our chairs
He was the funniest man
Got a call from Carole
That he might be dead soon
I am crying for
The funniest man that I know
He will be gone
Up in heaven
Pissing in God?s front yard
And, telling God?s police force
What he thinks of them
Telling God funny remarks
About some observations
That he will make about heaven
The funniest man that I know
LAWRENCE CARRADINI, Poet, Lowell Ma
Who said it better?
If you love what you're doing - it's not work.
Maynard was sweet and caring, and was passionate
about everything he did. He was not disingaged.
Of all the "types" representing the capitalization
of Beats or what the average American of that time
period could put their arms around when trying to
process what it was the Beats were "working"
so hard to convey, Maynard G. Krebbs came closest
to the heart and soul of what the core of it was all
Which was, openness, acceptance and inclusion of
right-thought-right-action-soulfulness from whereever
Thank you, Maynard.
Larry (Lawrence Carradini)
GARY STEVEN CORSERI, Poet, Playwright, Washington
BOB DENVER PASSES AT 70. WHO NOTICED?
"You rang?" he said, and there he was,
Maynard G. Krebs, the first goateed man I ever saw
on national T.V., on "Dobie Gillis," my
when I was 13 and the world seemed possible.
He'd come out of nowhere and muck things up
(like the lovable coyote of Indian myths,
or the Trickster, el diablo-you get the pix)
not trying, just being,
while Dopey Gillis was hotly pursued
by puff-cheeked Gilda, obnoxiously cutesy,
while he pursued
that co-ed with the bouffant smile,
the blonde, the angel, the light of his life,
bouncing with curls, bobby-soxed--
his only problem, how to bed her
(never alluded to
in those saccharine times).
And there was always the Rich Guy
who spoke with an accent--
the Third, haute coutured,
wore the best outfits,
even played tennis.
It was opera boffo, as close as it got,
Quixote and Panza, Krebs as Panza,
always in his unparalleled way
pointing the truth, with some apt aphorism,
like, like, "You rang?" which could mean
could mean, for example,
"Connections between us irrefractably irrefutable,
I'm your genie in the bottle and you've only to say
something mysterious and I'm summoned and willing,
whatever the scheme, the logos, the danger.
I lead you past the well of sterility,
past the smug 50's, past war and assassins.
Just hold fast to youth and childhood illusions.
I will grow a long, white, tapered beard like Laotse
and I will lead you into the wilderness of age.
I leave you here now with the statue of the thinker,
befuddled, as always.
By the Fountain of Youth, always watered
by the tears of old people, fading away.
Ring and I answer."
O Gilligan, O Maynard, Samantha and Jeanie--
mages and druids, where have you gone?
BILL COSTLEY, Robinson Jeffers Society, Monterey Ca
For Bob Denver
Steamy Sat. nites, my nausea quickly rose
as I slowly mopped the kitchen floor
while Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden
raged at his wife, hotly threatening
to punch her “to the moon, Alice.”
Mercifully, they were gone. Amazingly,
Bob Denver’s Maynard G. Krebs
appeared, as bummed by them as I was,
& an implausible Beat became TV-flesh.
Somehow, I, like, semi-survived 1959.
LENNY DELLAROCCA, Poet, Journalist, Del Ray Beach
I couldn't wait to be old enough to live in a coffeehouse,
beat bongos, smoke cigarettes and not work for a living.
RALPH DIGENNARO, free lance Writer, Mt Sinai NY
Bob Denver's recent passing conjures images I've long
forgotten, particularly his lovable characters on
the television comedies Gilligan's Island and Dobie
Gillis. BUt as much as I liked Gilligan's Island,
it is Denver's 50's beatnik hipster Maynard G. Krebs
on the latter that resonates most. I doubt the beat
poets of the era would have liked Denver's portrayal
of their subculture and sensibility. Krebs, while
clearly a non-conformist, was undeniably lovable and
approachable and could hardly be thought of as a deep
thinker or revolutionary,which characterized the majority
of beat poets at the time.
But there lies the conundrum: Was the Maynard G. Krebs
character meant to spoof or even pointedly make fun
of a generation of artistic types who were serious
about their views and their writing. Or did Denver
himself strive to reflect a more positive light on
earnest and informed, albeit collectively strange
in their dress and grooming, group who were perfectly
well within their constitutional rights to think,
speak and act differently or argue against government
bureaucracy. I suppose this debate will go on forever,
further swelled by Denver's death. But I, for one,
though not even in my teens, loved Maynard and the
innocent silliness he often festered. In the end,
Dobie Gillis would have been a lot less interesting
and funny without Krebs as his social conscience and
sidekick. Perhaps that was Bob Denver's true genius.
STEVE EDINGTON, Author, Nashua NH
Two years after San Francisco Chroncle columnist Herb
Caen coined the term "beatnik," television
viewers got to see one in the flesh in the character
of Bob Denver's Maynard G. Krebs on "The Many
Loves of Dobie Gillis." Caen devised the term
as a snide put-down of the Beat Generation following
the publication of Kerouac's "On the Road,"
and Denver's Maynard character clearly played into
that stereotype. But there was also something fun
and curiously endearing about Maynard, which Denver
managed to capture.
In a way Denver's Maynard was a humorous counterpoint
to the more sinister image of the Beats that was being
propagated at the time, and perhaps best exemplified
by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's warning at the 1960
Republican National Convention that the three major
enemies of America were "communists, eggheads,
and beatniks." I have to wonder how many of Hoover's
listeners were trying to figure out how lovable ol'
Maynard G. was one of the three major threats to America!
Yeah, Maynard G. Krebs wasn't really what the Beats
were all about; but, as stereotypes go, at least his
was a friendly, funny, and enjoyable one. So, Bob
Denver, thanks for the laughs and rest in peace.
JASON EISENBERG, Poet, Performer, Peppermill Massachusetts
As a mildly coddled mid-middle class suburban kid
on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound, the
Dobie Gillis show was a highlight of my week. I eagerly
awaited Dobie's myopic, '50s Americana pre-show philosophising
about girls, life, etc. It hit me right in the mid-section
of my middle class! Tuesday Weld as Thalia Menninger?
was of course a heart-throb. Maynard impressed me
as more of a goofy jughead although he did expound
at times (through the haze of memory) on some quality-of-life
issues. But Television used the beat angle as a comic
foil for Dobie's button-down heart and soul. My recollection
was that Bob Denver's character usually ended up copping
out to the prevailing social forces. (I'd have to
check out some reruns to be sure!) I did love his
character, though, as it gave my naive noggin a shallow
glimpse into another realm of being, so to speak.
But let's face it, the beats were co-opted on any
number of fronts by the media, using the phenomenon
at best for comic 'value' and at worst to polarize
the camps by characterizing Maynard as a loser ("Work!?"),
unable to fit into the cubic zirconia of the prevailing
status quo. About the only thing we can thank TV's
Maynard G. Crebs for is a lighthearted lean on life
that gave a nation of suburban white kids something
to laugh at between commercials. I must say, that
as a former member in good standing of the TV generation,
I bought it hook, line and stinker until a fateful
day in '64 or '65, when it ocurred to me that the
medium was out to eat my own soul for the price of
a box of Corn Flakes. The love affair ended, but the
addiction remained. My unformed adolsecent brainiac
still dug Maynard, token outcast tho' he may have
been portrayed. And the best was yet to come HEY!
- Ed Sullivan gave us Elvis! The Beatles! The Stones!
Long Live TV!!! Long live Bob Denver's groovy chin!
JACK FOLEY, Poet, Radio Host, Oakland Ca
for those who knew
even less than you;
for the clueless;
who didn’t know):
"There is a world
Well, Maynard G Krebs was left out of Bob Denver's
career bio recently on prime-time. Totally left out!
Maybe he heard the word, "WORK", and disappeared!
(remember his bent)?
I believe he was a true icon, yes, he was the original
But as he was campy and all the media saw the Beatnik
as, so was the reaction to his character by the straights
in the late 1950s! It slammed them as well!
And as a 12 year old at the time, I thought him lovable
and kooky and much more cool than Dobie Gillis who
was pretty much just anybody and way too desperate!
Beatniks were the literati, the artists, who saw the
world so differently from the "suits." Often
they never made the regular press, or television offerings.
At least Maynard G. gave us a peek inside the outsiders!
It made a lifelong impression (scar) on me, though
my generation was too young to ever be beat, we became
hippies and grooved in our own way.
Thanks for caring about Maynard G.
KATE KELLY, Poet and artist, associate Editor, Poetrybay
Magazine, Northport NY
I loved Maynard G (the G is for Walter he always explained)...He
created a character that many of us growing up in
the 50's early 60's could relate to more than the
Dobie Gillis character complete with white sox and
Funny, I had a dream last night about my best friend
from when I was a kid, Mary Alice Provenzano. We were
tomboys and loved throwing water balloons, bicycling
(me on the handlebars) and making phony weather reports
on a tiny reel to reel tape recorder. In this dream
I had we ran into each other in a tiny restroom and
I recognized her from her profile but she kept turning
away from me and then left without saying a word,
looking for all the world like someone trying to avoid
making contact. Well, one of our favorite characters
was first Maynard and later Gilligan and we both wore
sailor hats the way Gilligan did (the back up, the
front down). She looked a lot like Bob Denver, same
nose and cheekbones and swarthy complexion. So, this
morning, when I read he'd died the dream came back
to me. As if Bob Denver himself was walking out of
my life and deserting my childhood in the person of
Allie (as Mary Alice was affectionately called).
CHUCK LEVENSTEIN, Poet, Boston Ma
Bob Denver is dead. He seems to have been a nice enough
man. And he could always get a giggle from televiewers.
But an icon?
He reminds me of Alfred Newman (of "what me
worry?" fame), a perfect of innocence -- and
cultural vacuity. Gilligan's Island, along with hours
and years of empty sitcoms, put America to sleep.
Maynard Krebs sanitized beatniks -- when we were
in deparate need of nasty, smelly poets. Michael Moore
is as close as we get these days. Bob Denver died
just as Katrina woke up the narcoleptic media. Let's
see if NBC can stuff consciousness back in the box.
MICHAEL MCHUGH, New Century Booking, NYC NY
Maynard G Krebs on the Dobie Gillis show in the 50s
was the media image of a Beat in that era- where else
could he go from there? No wonder he got lost at sea
and ended up on that island with all those crazy squares
after that- like Bob Denver the Beats were shipwrecked
in the sixties- Ginsberg turning from opium and "heartless
tokay" to TM and politics and Jack Keroauc settled
down and got married.
JACKIE MOSS, Poet, Quogue NY
Maynard G. Krebs had a very strong effect on me. My
adolescent antennae went up whenever he appeared on
the screen.. in the same way Peter Pan brought me
to Never- Never land...Maynard brought me to Utopia
through his innocence, his child like acceptence and
simple politics/poetics. The beard and beret were
the markings of the offbeat and unusual...my first
green light to become a free thinker.
CHARLES NEWMAN, Poet, Chicago Il
I watched The Loves of Dobie Gillis because of Tuesday
Weld and Bob Denver. She was talented and incredibly
sexy. He gave us a funny, goofy, quirky, dude we could
dig like no other on tv at the time. Maynard G. Krebs
was a piece of work when you consider that era of
tv. Belittling the Beat movement? Nah...get a sense
I was a kid when I watched "Dobie Gillis"
and totally loved Maynard. My own brother was a classic
Beat character (jazz drummer kicked out of the Army
in 1960 for weed) so I had the real thing as well
as this TV character (clearly based at least in part
on Ginsberg, much as "Route 66" absorbed
Keroauc and Cassady). Although these shows were probably
completely galling to anyone actually connected with
the Beat scene (with "Route 66" dismissable
in hindsight), the character of Maynard had a Harpo
Marxian innocence, so I can't regard Denver's portrayal
as a complete dumbing down of consciousness. I will
never forgot the episode where Maynard insisted Santa
Claus existed and is of course mocked. But at the
end he stares out the window in wonder as the shadow
of Santa and his reindeers cross over his face. Kid
stuff but great stuff. Let's remember him by his mantra:
R.I.P. Bob Denver.
KEVIN TWIGG, Musician, Long Island NY
Ah Bob Denver...... What's not to like? I was just
listening to a nice NPR tribute to him. They played
an audio clip of an interview he did, where he told
of being thrilled that everywhere he went, people
were happy, smiley, and friendly to him, because of
his work on television. He made their lives better.
I myself still watch Gilligan Island reruns.
I was very young when the Dobie Gillis show was on
TV. I watched it whenever I could. To me, Bob Denver's
charactor was outrageous and radical. I think that
was the state of the television industry at THAT time,
where Dobie Gillis was as wild as it got! You can't
hold that against Bob Denver, right? Relating it to
society, the Dobie Gillis show "introduced",
in maybe a necessary fluffy way, another lifestyle
to the mainstream public.
This ultimately helped the true Beat Generation artists,
because as years go by, and memories fade, I think
people remember "The Thinker", and the offbeatness
of it all, rather than clothing styles and dialect.
The same applies to everyday life as well. That is,
we, as a society, remember the most profound and important
messages that we can glean from ANY situation. The
clothing of the years after the 1929 stock market
crash were not important, the lessons of struggle
and prevailance are the important lessons. In the
early 60's (the age of the Dobie Gillis show), I think
society "got" the message of freedom and
individual thinking, more than they "got"
the berets, goatees, bongos, and black clothes.
God Bless Bob Denver.
MARC WIDERSHEIN, Poet, Boston Ma
At the time I thought of beatniks as eccentric and
standing for absolutely nothing. It was like the James
Dean film, Rebel Without a Cause. There was a cause,
only the middle class was unaware of it. I only realized
it some time later, esp with the beginning of the
Vietnam War. I had read little of Ginsberg and later
some Corso and Ferlinghetti.
Bob Denver played a stereotype, or perhaps a fop
for the more establishment type, Doby Gillis played
by Dwayne Hickman. Whatever social importance the
beatniks had at that time was buried under many stereotypes.
When I think of it, I realize that television shaped
our whole lives: the way we thought and the way we
acted. And yet there was some real genius in some
of the programming, and although America was "the
age of anxiety" then, you could have a Ralph
Cramden who was always trying to make it i the social
structure, knowing that he didn't really fit in. Rod
Serling was another one genius that comes to mind.
At least with the Doby Gillis show, I had an early
awareness of poetry and the ways in which it could
be written. On Naked City, there was an episode with
Burgess Meredith who played a poet, but also a drunk.
"...and only the dead are honestly arranged."
Thinking back now on that show (and I haven't thought
about it in years) it adumbrated a number of social
movements in the Sixties. I would say, though, that
most viewers felt comfortable that the beatniks were
of no danger to them as long as they stuck around
BRUCE WEBER, Poet and performer, NYC
maynard g. krebs was my hero back in the early 1960s
when i was little more than a child. a beaknik-type
character on t.v. who played bongoes. i wanted to
grow a goatee and sit by rodin's thinker all day playing
percussion and never considering the word work. how
things have changed . . .