The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was an American sitcom starring Dwayne Hickman that aired between 1959 and 1963 on CBS. The series was adapted from a series of short stories by humorist and author Max Shulman from 1945 which were later re-released as a collection in 1951.
Shulman is also known for writing the script for the feature film adaptation of Dobie Gillis, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, produced by MGM in 1953.
Dobie Gillis particularly significant as it’s the first American television series produce by one of the major networks that featured teenagers as it’s leads. Other series from that era, such as Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best; merely featured teens as supporting characters in family dynamics.
It was a groundbreaking series for it’s depiction of the Beatnick counterculture of the era. Dwayne Hickman would later say that the series represented what he called the ‘end of innocence of the 1950s’; before the subsequent cultural revolution of the 1960s.
Seeing as how Dobie Gillis has been off the air for well over half a century. Most of it’s cast members, Dwayne Hickman included, have since passed away. Join FactsVerse as we look at how each cast member of this trailblazing series died.
Dwayne Hickman – Dobie Gillis
Hickman’s character was a clean-cut teen and relatively average student who in his youthful idealism discovered a passion for poetry and literature. Despite facing the pressures of home life, high school, and eventually the military and college, Gillis remained committed to dating all the attractive girls he came across.
After Dobie Gillis, Hickman went on to become a television executive, producer, and director. He also had a brief career as a vocalist. Hickman enjoyed painting in his retirement.
At the age of 87, on January 9, 2022, he passed away from complications of Parkinson’s Disease.
Frank Faylen – Herbert T. Gillis
Faylen’s character Dobie’s old-fashioned, stern, and short-tempered father who owned a small grocery store.
For the majority of his career, Faylen stuck to doing bit parts, although he occasionally given more substantial roles throughout his 42-year career as an actor. In total, he appeared in over 200 films and television shows, often not even credited.
Faylen died after coming down with pneumonia on August 2, 1985.
Florida Friebus – Winifred ‘Winnie’ Giles
Friebus played Dobie’s kind-hearted and sympathetic mother. Throughout the show, she’s mostly tending to her baby son and critiquing her husband’s parenting style.
Friebus’s other notable role was playing Mrs. Lilian Bakerman on The Bob Newhart Show. Contrary to what many people assumed, she named after her mother’s favorite Aunt, not the state of Florida. Her grandmother also named Florida.
Friebus first started acting professionally in 1929, appearing in a production called The Cradle Song at New York City’s Civic Repertory Theater.
A few of her other credits include roles on shows such as Father Knows Best, Perry Mason, Peyton Place, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Friebus died of cancer in Laguna Niguel, California, at the age of 78 on May 27, 1988.
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Bob Denver – Maynard G. Krebs
Bob’s character was Dobie’s lazy and goofball best friend. He was a Beatnik wannabe who shunned romance, hard work, and authority figures. Jus as Dobie did, Maynard eventually joined the Army in season two before enrolling in college.
While his role as Maynard certainly notable, Bob Denver best known for playing Gilligan in the 1960s comedy series Gilligan’s Island.
Denver acted in college productions while attending Loyola University in Los Angeles. While he was enrolled there, he met Dwayne Hickman, whom he would later co-star with on Dobie Giles.
While the majority of Denver’s acting career was on TV, Denver also appeared in several plays and Broadway productions.
Following the cancellation of Dobie Gillis; Denver was cast on Gilligan’s Island and stayed with the series for it’s entire three-season run on CBS. After Gilligan, Denver went on to star in the TV series The Good Guys, Dusty’s Trails, and Far Out Space Nuts.
Some of his other notable TV roles include appearances on shows such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Love, American Style.
Later in his life, he worked as a FM radio personality in his adopted home of Princeton, West Virginia, where he and his wife ran a low-key oldies station. He supplemented his income by making occasional appearances as Gilligan.
Denver was a heavy smoker throughout his life. In 2005, he received throat cancer treatment and had heart bypass surgery. A few months later, at the age of 70, he passed away from complications that included pneumonia.
Steve Franken – Chatsworth Osborne
Franken’s character was a spoiled rich kid, rival, and fellow High School and college classmate of Dobie. Chatsworth joined the Army in season two between his high school graduation and college enrollment.
Franken enjoyed a career on TV and in film that spanned half a century. Producer Rod Amateua cast Chatsworth on Dobie Giles after seeing him perform in a stage production of Say, Darling in LA. Some of his most notable other roles included playing the son of the villainous Homer Bedlow on Petticoat Junction, a murderer named Christopher Barton on Perry Mason, and a drunken waiter named Levinson in the 1968 film The Party.
Later on, he acted in and directed several episodes of the anthology series Insight as well as making appearances in minor roles on shows such as Murphy Brown, Seinfeld, and The King of Queens. Franken also frequently did voice-acting work in cartoons such as Road Rovers and Batman.
On August 24, 2021, Franken died at a nursing home in Canoga Park, California, from complications of cancer at the age of 80.
William Schallert – Professor Leander Pomfritt
Schallert played Dobie’s dry-witted science and English teacher and later one of his college professors over at S. Peter Pryor Junior College.
Throughout his six-decade acting career, Schallert worked primarily as a character actor appearing in dozens of TV shows and films. Noteworthy roles include turns on Richard Diamond: Private Detective, Death Valley Days, and The Patty Duke Show.
Schallert died on May 8, 2016, aged 83.
Jean Byron – Mrs. Ruth Adams
On Dobie Gillis, Bryon played the cast member of Dobie Gillis math teacher in high school as well as one of his professors in college, Dr. Imogene Burkhart. The series poked fun at the fact that she played both of these characters by stating once that Jean Byron’s birth name was Imogene Burkhart.
Byron was best perhaps best known for playing Natalie Lane, Patty Lane’s mother on The Patty Duke Show. She passed away on February 3, 2006, in Mobile, Alabama, from complications after undergoing hip replacement surgery.
Doris Packer – Mrs. Clarice Armitage
Packer’s character was as one of the cast of Dobie Gillis friend Milton’s mother who was an eccentric and wealthy socialite. She hated anyone that was outside of her social class and considered all boys, including Milton, to be nasty.
Packer’s most notable role was playing Theodore Cleaver’s elementary school principal on Leave it to Beaver.
In the majority of her screen roles, Packer played intellectual aristocrats who insisted on the precise use and over-enunciation of the English language.
Packer died of natural causes in Glendale, California, on March 31, 1979, at 74
Darryl Hickman – Davey Gillis
As Dobie’s older brother, Davey was equally as irresponsible and girl-crazy as his sibling. Davey was written off the show after season one and Dobie was referred to as an only-child from then on out.
Darryl was, in fact, the real-life older brother of Dwayne Hickman. Although he began his acting career in films, he branched out to do various TV series later on. Eventually he became a TV executive, producer, and screenwriter.
Like the next actor we’re about to talk about, Hickman is still alive at the age of 90.
Tuesday Weld – Thalia Menninger
For season one, Weld’s character Thalia served as Dobie’s love interest and fellow classmate who only was ever willing to date Dobie whenever he had money or would help her out with one of her get-rich schemes. Weld ended up leaving the series after the first season but later reprised her role twice during season three and season four.
Weld went on to appear in more mature roles in the late 1950s after departing Dobie Gillis. In 1960, she won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer. In the ensuing decade, she enjoyed a fairly active acting career playing more dramatic roles in movies.
Some of her best-known and more applauded roles include parts in films like 1972s Play it as it Lays – for which she was nominated for another Golden Globe – and 1977s Mr. Goodbar – which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She later won an Emmy for her role in 1983s The Winter of Our Discontent and a BAFTA for 19842 Once Upon a Time In America. Since then, she has only rarely made appearances in films. At the age of 78, Weld is one of the only surviving cast members of Dobie Gillis.
Let us know your thoughts about the Dobie Gillis Cast Member!
When shows are as old as Dobie Gillis is, it’s not surprising to learn that the majority of their stars are sadly no longer with us. The passing of time has a way of doing that kind of thing.
Who was your favorite cast member of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis? And were you shocked to learn about the deaths of any of the stars we just talked about? Let us know down below in the comments.
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