The comic castaway succumbs to complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 06, 2005 03:35 PM

Bob Denver, the leading comedic castaway on TV’s Gilligan’s Island, died at age 70 of complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer, says his agent.

Denver passed away on Friday at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina. Earlier this year, he had quadruple heart bypass surgery.

On Gilligan’s Island, which ran from 1964 to 1967 on CBS and has been in reruns ever since, Denver played Gilligan, the lovably dimwitted first mate who was shipwrecked with six other people on a deserted Pacific Island. The show was hugely popular and most recently spawned a reality show called The Real Gilligan’s Island.

Though Denver was best known for Gilligan, he also starred as the bearded, beatnik sidekick Maynard G. Krebs in the 1959-63 CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Maynard s catchphrase was to yelp the word “Work?” whenever the term came up.

Born in New Rochelle, N.Y., “I left Los Angeles in the ’70s because I was TV’d out,” Denver, a West Virginia resident, told PEOPLE 10 years ago, as he was making monthly promotional appearances at fan conventions around the country.

At the time, he was also planning a line of miniature golf courses, though he claimed to have a fallback if that didn’t get off the ground. (It didn’t.) With a “little teeny pond” on his wooded, 11-acre property, he said, “I could sell Gilligan’s Goldfish. For five bucks you get the bowl, the goldfish and an autographed picture.”

He is survived by his fourth wife, Dreama, 54; their son Colin, 21; and three grown children from previous marriages, all of whom were with him when he died, reports the Associated Press.

“He was my everything, and I will love him forever,” Dreama Denver said in a statement.