1 9 5 9 – 1 9 6 3 (USA)
147 x 30 minute episodes
All-American teenager Dobie Gillis (played by Dwayne Hickman) lived in the fictitious community of Central City and was always on the lookout for girls, money and cars. His father was a grocer and not very wealthy, so the cars and money eluded him.
Bookworm Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James) was trying to hook Dobie though, while good-looking rich kid Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty) vied with Dobie for his girlfriend, Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld).
Dobie’s parents, grocery store owner Herbert T (Frank Faylen) and Winnie (Florida Friebus) tried to understand their bewildering offspring but were usually confused by his adolescent behaviour.
Dobie was the archetypal middle-class, girl-crazy high-school teenager – his age was brought down in the jump from the page to the box because the TV boffins didn’t think the public would buy such adolescent behaviour from a college student – perhaps they never went to college!
The show (based on the writings of Max Shulman) also featured Bob Denver (later to star in Gilligan’s Island) as the ultimate beatnik, Maynard G Krebs. Maynard was an unconventional fellow who was not the least bit interested in work and therefore not a particularly good influence on Dobie.
Dobie and Maynard first attend Central City High School, then S. Peter Pryor Junior College. Their favourite after-school hangout was Charlie Wong’s Ice Cream Parlor, and in 1961 they both served a hitch in the army.
Dobie’s life was far from smooth and the same could be said for the goings on behind the scenes on the set.
First up, former fourth-grade teacher Denver was drafted into the army and saw his Krebs character permanently (everyone thought) written out of the show early on.
Denver was rejected by the military because of an earlier broken neck and Shulman brought him back by having the service boot him out on the show, too – Bad news for poor Michael Pollard, who’d been cast as a replacement, playing Maynard’s cousin, and was let go when his six-month contract was up.
Meanwhile, Hickman and Weld (who left the series to concentrate on films after the first season) didn’t exactly hit it off; “People used to wonder why I didn’t get along with Tuesday Weld in the early days of the show, and they all thought it was some sort of romantic dust-up or something,” Hickman said.
“It wasn’t. She just wasn’t a pro, that’s all. No discipline. Late to work, getting back from lunch, no sense of responsibility to the show, the crew, the rest of the cast. She’s a very talented girl and maybe by now, she’s learned discipline. I don’t know. I haven’t seen her.”
For her part, Weld responded that she preferred to keep silent if she had nothing kind to say about a person . . .
On 10 May 1977, a one-off special aired called Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis? in which we saw the adult Dobie (now married to Zelda) running the grocery store with his Dad and with a teenage son of his own.
Another sequel appeared in 1988 called Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis offering more of the same.
Maynard G Krebs
Herbert T Gillis
Chatsworth Osborne Jr