Maynard G. Krebs - TV’s Original Beatnik

The coolest cat in the history of prime time, Maynard G. Krebs was Bob’s first breakthrough TV role as the beatnik/best friend of Dobie Gillis on the TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”. Maynard still remains the most famous beatnik in history. Just ask  TV Guide, who voted Maynard one of the 50 best TV characters ever!

In 1958 Bob was a school teacher and working part time at the post office when he got to audition for the series pilot. After it sold, the series started shooting in February 1959. Max Shulman created Maynard’s character specifically for the TV show. When Bob Denver asked Max why Maynard wasn’t in either of the Dobie books, Shulman would only reply, “Because I wanted to sell a few copies!”

But it was Bob himself who actually fleshed out the character, mainly because the writers had no idea what beatniks were really like. Bob researched Maynard by hanging out at college coffee houses, studying the beatniks there. He had also played a beatnik in a college production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.  (You might wonder how beatniks got into Gilbert and Sullivan. They had changed the two opposing factions to advertising men in suits against the beatniks.) Over the years, Bob was accused many times of starting the whole hippy movement in the ’60’s.

Maynard lived in his own world with its own twisted logic. His name was also illogical, considering the “G” in Maynard G. Krebs stood for Walter. According to the show’s creator, Maynard was named after his Aunt Walter who was married to his Uncle Edith. His speech was full of catch lines like “You rang?” and “Like, I’m getting all misty”. But Maynard G. Krebs will always be best remembered for his response whenever anyone mentioned the subject of work. He would instantaneously shudder, and let out a plaintive cry of “WORK!?!?”  

Like Maynard, Bob Denver also loved jazz — he “dug” Thelonius Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. On the show, Maynard played bongos, ocarina and anything else he could find that made sounds. If there were no instruments available, he just sang scat. During the series, a rumor started that Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs had recorded an album called “Like What?”.   The whole thing was a myth, and never actually happened, but Bob had people offering him big money for a copy of the album. Even here on the web the legend continues, and it’s reported that the album is a highly sought after collector’s item fetching thousands of dollars in mint condition. They even show a picture of the so-called album cover. Bob, himself could never figure out where the picture came from. Possibly a CBS photo shoot — but even Bob wasn’t absolutely sure!  Maybe he should really have recorded that album — so many people think he already did!

Bob Denver worked with Dwayne Hickman on 142 episodes spanning 4 years. It was, like, a pretty far out experience and he never really considered it “WORK!”. When speaking of Dwayne, Bob always talked about Dwayne showing him by example how to be the star of his own series, how to make the set a place of calm, a refuge for everyone working there. In every show he did, Bob had the greatest respect for cast 

and crew and during his Dobie years, the utmost respect for Dwayne. They remained close friends until the end of Bob’s life and Dreama counts Dwayne and 

his wife Joan as two of her closest friends to this day.