Television's most famous castaway, the hapless crewman Gilligan of the tour boat S.S. Minnow, was once rescued in real life while adrift on the briny, actor Bob Denver revealed yesterday to Baltimore radio listeners.
Denver and fellow "Gilligan's Island" players Russell Johnson (the Professor) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) were in town this week as a promotional stunt for radio station WYST-FM 92.3.
They took the symbolic "three-hour tour," for example, aboard the Lady Baltimore Wednesday night with some 500 listeners who responded to 92 Star's free ticket call. And yesterday, they went on the air live from a Russell Street gasoline station with morning team Don O'Brien and Wendy Corey, then visited the Towson Marketplace and Harford Mall.
During the broadcast, Denver was joking that his recognizability from the eternal 1964-67 series has made it difficult for him to rent boats.
In fact, he revealed, he once hired a houseboat in the Florida Keys only to run out of gas miles from port. Finally rescued and towed to safety by a park ranger, Denver said he was quickly recognized as the fictional castaway, but persuaded the ranger to keep mum to avoid the inevitable media angle: Gilligan Finally Rescued!
Until now, that is. (Better late than never, Bob.)
Denver, now 56, seems not to mind he is eternally saddled with a pair of memorable roles which he has repeated in relatively recent reunion movies: "Rescue From Gilligan's Island" and "Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis," the latter from the earlier series in which he played beatnik Maynard G. Krebs.
In addition to "Gilligan's Island" reunion stunts, Johnson does radio voice-over work in Seattle and Wells presides over a line of clothing designed for the physically impaired and recuperating hospital patients.
They told listeners they have not been in touch recently with the other surviving "Gilligan's" regular, actress Tina Louise (Ginger). Alan Hale (The Skipper), Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) and Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell) have all died, Schafer just this month.
DUELING FRUSTRATIONS -- Don't you think the talk show producers have to talk to each other to produce such coincidences as occurred yesterday on "Donahue," "Sally Jessy Raphael" and "Geraldo?"
At 9 on "Donahue" (Channel 2), the subject was women complaining about their husbands' low sex drives. At 10 on "Geraldo" (Channel 11), the topic was how 55 percent of married men are dissatisfied with their wives' sexual interest. And at the same hour on "Sally Jessy" (Channel 2), the subject was single men who claimed to be a gift to women, having slept with an implausibly large number of partners.