Blog Nation Pauses to Remember … Gilligan

The blogosphere mourned the passing of a great man today, one who will be missed by many.

No, not William Rehnquist. Bob Denver.

To quote Chez Pinkgoose, a French blogger: “Gilligan est mort! Bob Denver n’est plus!”

In typical blog style (accentuate the counterintuitive), many point to Denver’s lesser-known role as Maynard G. Krebs, the goateed beatnik on “The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis,” as his most memorable achievement. Denver apparently created much of the character himself, hanging out in coffeehouses and bongo drumming circles. Maynard, who suggests might have been responsible for starting the hippy movement (does he really want that on his shoulders?) would utter such colorful gems as “You rang?” and “Like, I’m getting all misty,” and screamed out, “Work?!?” whenever it was suggested he should get a job.

Of course, the passing of Gilligan brought back many childhood memories and some unanswered questions for those who watched the show as tykes. The Average American Idiot muses, “It’s hard to claim a favorite episode since most of the scripts were the same from show to show. I was always amazed at how much the Howell’s brought with them for a three-hour cruise, how good the girls could look and how the Professor could turn a coconut into anything — except a boat. And then there was the laugh track. But Gilligan was fun.”

A few bloggers compared Denver’s final voyage to that other notable death. Matthew at A Pilgrim’s Digression found the spectacle of mourning for Chief Justice Rehnquist to be a bit over the top. “Somehow, to me such scenes always remind me of old newsreel clips in which hordes of hysterical people cry and scream and throw themselves on the funeral bier of Josef Stalin or Mao Tse Tung,” he writes.

On the other hand, “Bob Denver is another story,” he continues. “If Bob Denver was lying on the Lincoln catafalque in the Capitol or Supreme Court, I might just stand in line to pay my respects.”

Of course, not all bloggers were so dismissive of the Rehnquist funereals. Ruby G at Sherpa’s Wanderin’s and Wonderin’s felt compelled to join the procession saying farewell to the Supreme Court justice. “The past couple of years, I’ve been following him in the news. Especially since he spent the last year outwitting the media and most of Washington regarding whether or not he was going to retire,” she writes. “He was tough, he hung in there and when I think of the inauguration in January, I’ll think of him.”

These generous thoughts were not widely shared. The Obfuscation Report takes the opportunity to focus in on Rehnquist’s most controversial piece of writing, a memo titled, “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,” in which he “defended the separate-but-equal doctrine embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson.”

He continues: “When questioned about the memos by the Senate Judiciary Committee in both 1971 and 1986, Rehnquist blamed his defense of segregation on the late Justice Jackson, stating — under oath — that his memo was meant to reflect the views of Justice Jackson. But Justice Jackson voted in Brown, along with a unanimous Court, to strike down school segregation.”

The Obfuscation Report also reminds us that in 1994 Rehnquist designed his own robe for himself, breaking with the tradition of Chief Justices wearing the same robes as the other eight associate justices. His had four golden bars placed on each sleeve and the garment was modeled, apparently, “after a robe he had seen in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Iolanthe.”

As the fates would have it, that golden-barred coat will now be laid to rest alongside a beat-up white sailor hat.

Like, we’re getting all misty, man. You dig?

Gal Beckerman

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Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.