The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
|The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis|
|Also known as||Dobie Gillis (seasons 2–3)
Max Shulman's Dobie Gillis (season 4)
|Created by||Max Shulman|
|Directed by||Rod Amateau
Stanley Z. Cherry
|Theme music composer||Lionel Newman
|Opening theme||"Dobie", performed by Judd Conlon's Rhythmaires (season 1-2)
"Dobie" (Instrumental) (seasons 3-4)
|Ending theme||"Dobie", performed by Judd Conlon's Rhythmaires (seasons 1-2)
"Dobie" (Instrumental) (seasons 3-4)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||147 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Martin Manulis|
|Cinematography||James Van Trees|
|Camera setup||Single-camera setup|
|Running time||26 min|
|Production company(s)||20th Century Fox Television
Martin Manulis Productions (seasons 1-2)
Marman Productions (seasons 3-4)
|Picture format||Black-and-white, film|
|Original run||September 29, 1959– June 5, 1963|
|Preceded by||The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953)|
|Followed by||Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis (1978)
Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988)
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (also known as simply Dobie Gillis or Max Shulman's Dobie Gillis in later seasons and in syndication) is an American sitcom that aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. The series and several episode scripts were adapted from a 1951 collection of short stories of the same name, written by Max Shulman, who had also written a feature film adaptation of his short stories for MGM in 1953, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis.
The series revolved around the life of teenager/young adult Dobie Gillis (Dwayne Hickman), who, along with his best friend, beatnik Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), struggles against the forces of his life - high school, the military, college, and his parents (Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus) - as he aspires to attain both wealth and dates with girls. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was produced by Martin Manulis Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Creator Shulman also wrote the theme song in collaboration with Lionel Newman.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Cast
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Broadcasting history
- 5 Nielsen ratings
- 6 Production
- 7 Cast and characters
- 8 Production
- 9 Other media
- 10 Sequel films
- 11 DVD release
- 12 In popular culture
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs
The series revolved around teenager Dobie Gillis (Dwayne Hickman), who aspired to have popularity, money, and the attention of beautiful and unattainable girls. He didn't have any of these qualities in abundance, and the tiny crises surrounding Dobie's lack of success made the story in each weekly episode. Also constantly in question, by Dobie and others, was Dobie's future, as the boy proved to be a poor student and an aimless drifter. Often falling in love with a new girl within minutes, the would-be poet Dobie would address his loves with flowery phrases such as "my great, tawny animal" and go out of his way each week to attract, keep, or win back the girl-of-the-moment.
His partner-in-crime was American television's first beatnik, Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), who became the series' breakout character. An enthusiastic fan of jazz music (with a strong distaste for the music of Lawrence Welk), Maynard plays the bongos, collects tinfoil and petrified frogs, and steers clear of romance, authority figures, and work (yelping "Work?!" every time he hears the word). Always speaking with the vernacular and slang of the beatniks and jazz musicians he admired, Maynard punctuates his sentences with the word "like" and has a tendency towards malapropisms. The main running gag on Dobie Gillis would have Dobie (or some other character) describing something by rattling off a series of adjectives describing something undesirable or disgusting ("I'd be a ragged, useless, dirty wreck!"), after which a previously unseen Maynard would appear (entering the scene in close-up), saying "You rang?"
Maynard was convinced life was for enjoying. Dobie's father, Herbert T. Gillis (Frank Faylen), who owned a grocery store, was only happy when Dobie was behind a broom. Dobie's father was often caught up in various elaborate get-rich-quick schemes, or situational bail-outs à la Ralph Kramden, with Dobie getting ensnared along with him; by the end both came around grudgingly to Maynard's point of view.
As a high school student, Dobie lived at home with his parents in the show's early years, and his interaction with his parents was a source of much of the humor. His mother Winnie (Florida Friebus) was very caring and perhaps tended to baby her son a little too much; his father Herbert was a very proud, hard-working child of the Great Depression and veteran of World War II, who was often (during the first season of the show) heard to declare, after dealing with one of many frustrations caused by Dobie, "I've gotta kill that boy, I've just gotta!" Deep down, however, Herbert was a good and decent man. The Gillis family also originally included an older son, Davey Gillis (portrayed by Dwayne Hickman's older brother Darryl Hickman), who made three appearances during the first season while home on break from college before being written out of the show.
Dobie's two main antagonists were rich kids, Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty) and (after Beatty's departure) Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. (Steve Franken), Milton's cousin. Both characters represented the wealth and popularity to which Dobie aspired, but both also served as romantic and competitive rivals for Dobie. Milton and Chatsworth shared the same actress, Doris Packer, as their mother.
Dobie was hopelessly attracted to the money-hungry blonde Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld), who frequently entangled Dobie in her money-making schemes. Weld left the series after the first season and was replaced by a seemingly endless stream of young women equally hard for Dobie to obtain. Most, however, were not as money-obsessed as Thalia. Thalia's catchphrase was that the money was not for her but for her family; she would talk about ailments her family had that only money could cure, and claimed her looks were all her family had to lift them out of their bad situation in life.
Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James, later a politician under her birth name of Sheila Kuehl) was a brilliant and eager young girl who was hopelessly in love with Dobie, much to his annoyance. Zelda didn't find Dobie particularly attractive, but fell in love with him because she found him helpless and needing of her care, and also because of the concept of "propinquity" (that is, nearness; as Gillis and Gilroy, they were typically seated together in class). Despite his protests, Dobie was clearly fond of Zelda, and Zelda claimed Dobie loved her but just hadn't realized it yet. To prove this, she'd wiggle her nose (like a rabbit) at Dobie, who would do the same back to Zelda, though Dobie said it was only a reflex that made him do it. Dobie and Zelda would later appear as a middle-aged married couple in the two spin-off Dobie Gillis reunion projects of the 1970s/1980s.
Mr. Leander Pomfritt (Herbert Anderson in the pilot, William Schallert thereafter) was Dobie's English and science teacher at Central High School, a stern educator fond of deadpan quips who referred to his pupils as "my young barbarians". Often finding himself frustrated with the less-than-studious team of Dobie and Maynard, Mr. Pomfritt nevertheless had concern for the boys and took time out to help them with their problems. Dobie's math teacher was Mrs. Ruth Adams (Jean Byron, with whom Schallert would later co-star on The Patty Duke Show), an attractive woman who was also concerned about Dobie's future. A running gag among all of Dobie's schoolteachers would have them, first stepping out of the path of the doorway, and then slowly announcing "class...dismissed!" as the students noisily and rapidly rush out of the classroom.
Most of the action for the first season-and-a-half of Dobie Gillis centered around the Gillis grocery store, Central High School, and the Central City park, where Dobie often goes to think "when things bug [him]". The park scenes are used as the show's framing device, with Dobie sitting on a park bench in front of a reproduction Auguste Rodin's statue, "The Thinker". Speaking directly to the audience, he would explain to the viewing audience his problem of the week, usually girls or money (in the earliest episodes, Dobie is seen emulating the trademark pose of "The Thinker" - head planted on fist in deep contemplation - before turning and acknowledging the camera).
The teen characters graduated high school halfway through the second season, and Dobie and Maynard (along with Chatsworth) subsequently did a brief stint in the U.S. Army. The peacetime draft was in effect at the time, and the Vietnam War was as yet only a minor concern to most Americans when the series ended. Although Dobie continued to break the fourth wall and narrate the episodes, the park set was eschewed when the character entered the Army for an abstract set with the same reproduction of "The Thinker", which remained in use for the rest of the series.
At the start of the third season, Dobie and Maynard received their Army discharges and they, Zelda, and Chatsworth enroll in S. Peter Pryor Junior College, where Mr. Pomfritt was now a professor after having resigned from his position at Central High. Dobie's science and history teacher at the college was Dr. Imogene Burkhart (Jean Byron, whose real name was used for that of the character). In season four, Dobie's teenage cousin Duncan "Dunky" Gillis (Bobby Diamond) moves in with the Gillises, and becomes something of a tag-along for Dobie and Maynard.
- Dwayne Hickman as Dobie Gillis: a clean-cut teenager (later young adult) of below average intelligence who aspires to have dates with all of the beautiful girls he pursues, despite the pressures of home life, high school, and later the military and college. Dobie also serves as the series narrator, relating his observations to the audience from in front of a statue of Rodin's "The Thinker".
- Frank Faylen as Herbert T. Gillis: Dobie's old-fashioned, short-tempered, and gruff father, who runs a small independent grocery store
- Florida Friebus as Winnifred "Winnie" Gillis: Dobie's doting mother, who tends to baby her son and critique her husband's parenting skills
- Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs: Dobie's eccentric best friend, a would-be beatnik who shuns romance, authority figures, and work. Like Dobie, Maynard briefly joins the Army in season two between his high school graduation and enrollment in college.
- Tuesday Weld as Thalia Menninger (season 1): a beautiful high school classmate of Dobie's who is only willing to date Dobie if he either attains money or helps her in her schemes to make some for herself. Weld departed the series after the first season, later returning to guest star in two episodes, one in season 3 and one in season 4.
- Warren Beatty as Milton Armitage (season 1): a rich jock at Dobie's high school and a rival of Dobie for Thalia's affections. Beatty quit the series mid-way through the first season.
- Sheila James as Zelda Gilroy: the smartest girl in Dobie's high school and college, who is in love with the uninterested Dobie and schemes ways to get him to date and marry her.
- Steve Franken as Chatsworth Osborne, Jr.: a spoiled rich boy and a classmate of Dobie's in high school and college. Chatsworth assumed the role left vacant by the departure of Milton from the series. Like Dobie, Chatsworth also briefly joins the Army in season two between his high school graduation and enrollment in college.
- William Schallert as Professor Leander Pomfritt: a dry wit English and science teacher at Dobie's high school and later one of Dobie's college professors. Herbert Anderson plays Mr. Pomfritt in the pilot episode.
- Jean Byron as Mrs. Ruth Adams, Dobie's math teacher in high school (season 1) and Dr. Imogene Burkhart, one of Dobie's professors in college (seasons 3 and 4)
- Doris Packer as Mrs. Armitage, Milton's mother: a rich and eccentric socialite. The character became Mrs. Chatsworth (Clarice) Osborne, Sr. when Franken replaced Beatty mid-way through season one.
- Bobby Diamond as Duncan "Dunky" Gillis (season 4), Dobie's younger teenage cousin
Notable guest roles
- Darryl Hickman as Davey Gillis (season 1): Dobie's older brother, a college student no more responsible and no less girl-crazy than Dobie. Davey was written out of the series after season one and Dobie is regarded as an only child thereafter.
- Clinton Sundberg as Trembley, the Armitage/Osbourne butler
- Marjorie Bennett as Mrs. Kenny (seasons 1 and 2): a frequent and persnickety customer of the Gillises' grocery store
- Tommy Farrell as Riff Ryan (seasons 1 and 2): a beatnik record store owner and coffee house proprietor who serves as something of a reluctant mentor for Maynard
- Raymond Bailey as Dean McGruder (seasons 3 and 4): head of S. Peter Pryor Junior College
- September 29, 1959 – June 26, 1962: Tuesday at 8:30 pm on CBS
- September 26, 1962 – June 5, 1963: Wednesday at 8:30 pm on CBS
- October 1959 – April 1960: Not in the Top 30
- October 1960 – April 1961: #23/23
- October 1961 – April 1962: #21 (tie)/22.9
- October 1962 – April 1963: Not in the Top 30
Max Shulman's first Dobie Gillis stories were written in 1945, and his short story compilation, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. was published in 1951. A follow-up novel, I Was a Teen-Age Dwarf, appeared in 1959. The titular character appeared at various ages in these stories, though the majority of the stories centered around his college years. Aside from Dobie and his parents, Zelda Gilroy was the only other character from the books directly adapted to the series as a regular or recurring character.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced the first media adaptation of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in 1953 as The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, a black-and-white musical film starring Debbie Reynolds, Bob Fosse, and Bobby Van as Dobie Gillis. Following its release, Shulman set about attempting to bring Dobie Gillis to television. An initial pilot was produced by veteran comedian and producer George Burns in 1957, with his son Ronnie Burns starring as Dobie.
After this pilot did not sell, Shulman took Dobie Gillis to 20th Century Fox Television and Martin Manulis. The Fox pilot, "Caper at the Bijou", featured Dobie, his parents, and a new character, Dobie's beatnik best friend Maynard G. Krebs, as the leads. Dwayne Hickman, at the time the breakout star on The Bob Cummings Show (also known as Love That Bob) as nephew Chuck MacDonald, won the part of Dobie Gillis over several other candidates, including Michael Landon. Bob Denver won the part of Maynard Krebs after his sister, a casting director's secretary, got his name added to a list of candidates auditioning for the role. Despite being cast as teenagers, ages 17 and 18 respectively, Hickman was 24 and Denver 23 when they shot the pilot in the summer of 1958.
First pitched to and rejected by NBC, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was greenlit for series by CBS. Alternating week-to-week, Marlboro and Pillsbury Company were the sponsors of Dobie Gillis during the first two seasons, with Dwayne Hickman appearing in one of the Pillsbury commercials. Colgate-Palmolive replaced Pillsbury as one of the alternate sponsors in season three. Principal photography and production for The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis took place at the original Fox Film Corporation studio at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue (next to the headquarters of Deluxe) in Los Angeles, California. Dobie Gillis was filmed with two cameras, a method that producer and director Rod Amateau had learned while working with George Burns. The show was not filmed before a live studio audience, but a live audience viewed each episode and provided its laugh track.
Cast and characters
Because Dwayne Hickman had appeared for several years on The Bob Cummings Show as Chuck, he was required by the sponsors to bleach his dark brown hair blond for the role of Dobie in order to distance himself from that character in the public's mind. By the second season, however, Hickman was permitted to return to his natural hair color, after he'd complained to the producers that the constant bleaching required to keep his hair blond was causing his scalp to break out.
Veteran actors Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus were cast as Dobie's parents, Herbert and Winifred Gillis, and Herbert Anderson was cast as Mr. Pomfritt, Dobie and Maynard's English teacher at school. Anderson also appeared in a lead role in the pilot for Dennis the Menace; when that show was picked up (also by CBS), he chose to stay with that cast, and veteran actor William Schallert appeared in the recurring role of Mr. Pomfritt through the end of season three.
After filming the third episode, Bob Denver announced that he had received his draft notice. The character of Maynard enlisted in the Army and was given an elaborate sendoff in the show's next episode, "Maynard's Farewell to the Troops". Stage actor Michael J. Pollard was brought out from New York to play Maynard's cousin, Jerome Krebs, who was introduced at the end of "Maynard's Farewell to the Troops" and was to assume Maynard's role in future scripts. Before Pollard had completed his first episode, "The Sweet Singer of Central High", however, Denver returned and announced that he had been designated 4F – unfit for service – because of a neck injury he had sustained some years earlier. After completing "The Sweet Singer of Central High", Pollard was bought out of his contract and Denver was rehired, his returned explained by stating that the Army had given Maynard a "hardship discharge" - the Army's hardship, not Maynard's.
Tuesday Weld was cast as Dobie's love interest in "Caper at the Bijou" and stayed on as a semi-regular. Neither Hickman nor Weld, age 15 at the time of shooting the pilot, were fond of each other, with Hickman later describing Weld as "a pain in the neck". Weld departed the series after the first year to star in features, though she was persuaded by Max Shulman to return for two guest appearances, one in season three ("Birth of a Salesman") and one in season four ("What's a Little Murder Between Friends?").
Warren Beatty was cast as Milton Armitage, a recurring rival of Dobie's at his high school during the first half of season one. Beatty, age 24 at the time, did not enjoy working on Dobie Gillis; Hickman later recalled that Beatty "looked at me like I was a bug" while on set, and poked fun of Beatty later in his career when he omitted Dobie Gillis from his biographies. He quit the series in late 1959 - midway through production of the first season - to join the cast of a stage play.
Steve Franken, a 28-year-old veteran character actor, was cast immediately after Beatty's departure as Chatsworth Osbourne, Jr, a replacement character for Milton Armitage. While both Milton and Chatsworth were rich rivals of Dobie Gillis (and both characters shared the same actress, Doris Packer, for a mother) and were, according to canon, cousins, where Beatty's Milton was a menacing, athletic physical threat, Franken's more pompous and foppish Chatsworth tended to plot and scheme his way through competitions with Dobie, more often than not using his riches to get ahead. The Chatsworth character became popular enough that the producers had to consciously limit his appearances on the series to roughly one per month to prevent Franken from upstaging Hickman and Denver, but Franken stated both during and after Dobie Gillis that playing Chatsworth led him to be typecast and stifled his career.
The actresses that played Dobie's love interests include Cheryl Holdridge, Michele Lee, Susan Watson, Marlo Thomas, Sally Kellerman, Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McRae), Barbara Babcock, Sherry Jackson, Diana Millay and Barbara Bain. Yvonne Craig appeared in the opening credits and the closing sequence of the pilot film used to sell the series to CBS, but did not appear in the actual episode, "Caper at The Bijou", when it was broadcast. She would eventually play five different girl friends on the show, more than any other actress.
Creator Max Shulman served as the show runner and an uncredited producer of Dobie Gillis during season one through three, ceding this role to associate producers Joel Kane and Guy Scarpitta in season four. Shulman contributed scripts for episodes of the show during all four seasons, with several stories - including "Love is a Science" (season 1, episode 3), "Love is a Fallacy" (season 1, episode 22), and "Parlez-Vous English" (season 2, episode 11) - directly adapted by Shulman from his original Dobie Gillis short stories.
After the third season of Dobie Gillis, Rod Amateau and Max Shulman produced a pilot for a Zelda spinoff starring Sheila James as Zelda Gilroy, with Joe Flynn and Jean Byron cast as her parents. James was therefore contractually absent from much of the fourth and final season of Dobie Gillis, though she returned to the show as Zelda for a few episodes after the spin-off series was not picked up.
The theme song "Dobie" was written by 20th Century-Fox musical director Lionel Newman, with lyrics by Max Shulman. The theme was sung by Judd Conlon's Rhythmaires, with music conducted by Lionel Newman.
After the first season of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis had aired, Capitol Records attempted to make a recording star out of Dwayne Hickman, ignoring the fact that he couldn't sing. According to Hickman's autobiography, Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman, the recording engineers had to piece together numerous takes to get a usable track of each song. Hickman introduced several of the songs from the Dobie! album on the show during its second season, including "I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter" and "Don't Send a Rabbit." Earlier, while Hickman was appearing on Love That Bob, he had recorded a single, "School Dance," for ABC-Paramount Records, but both the single and the later Capitol album sold very few copies.
DC Comics published a Many Loves of Dobie Gillis comic that ran for twenty-six issues from 1960 to 1964, featuring work by Bob Oksner. Stories from this comic would later be reprinted, with slight updates to the artwork and lettering, by DC as a short-lived series entitled Windy and Willy in 1969. 
The program spawned two sequels, the pilot Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis (1978) and TV movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988). In these, Dobie had married Zelda and had a son named Georgie, who was like Dobie had been at his age. The latter of these took its title from the Sam Peckinpah film, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and its plot from the play The Visit, by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
On July 2, 2013, Shout! Factory released The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The first season of the show was also made available on Amazon Instant Video on this date, and is set for release as an individual season set on September 10, 2013.
In popular culture
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a major influence on the characters for another successful CBS program, the Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which ran on the network from 1969 to 1972 followed by several spin-offs. As confirmed by series creators Joe Ruby & Ken Spears and writer Mark Evanier,the four teenage lead characters of Scooby-Doo were based on four of the teenage lead characters from Dobie Gillis: Fred Jones on Dobie, Daphne Blake on Thalia, Velma Dinkley on Zelda, and Shaggy Rogers on Maynard.
Maynard would often address Dobie as his "good buddy." On Bob Denver's next sitcom, Gilligan's Island, Denver's character would be referred to as "little buddy."
- Shostak, Stu (02-27-2007). "Interview with Dwayne Hickman". Stu's Show. Retrieved 08-22-2013.
- Shostak, Stu (07-17-2013). "Interview with Sheila James Kuehl". Stu's Show. Retrieved 07-25-2013.
- Schallert, William (June 10, 2010). Hollywood Everyman: A Conversation with William Schallert. Interview with Tweedle, Sam. Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict. http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/williamschallerti/. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
- Milwaukee Journal, Roger Miller article, "Baby Boomers still follow the pop icons of their era"
- CJAD 800 AM, Montreal radio interview with Bob Denver
- Shostak, Stu (11-03-2011). "Interview with Steven Franken". Stu's Show. Retrieved 09-09-2013.
- Dwayne Hickman interview
- "SECRET ORIGINS: Tale of Two Teens". DIAL B FROM BLOG. Retrieved 2013-07-08
- Date, Cost, Package Art and More for 'The Complete Series' DVDs!
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - An Individual 'Season 1' DVD Release is Scheduled."
- Shostak, Stu (05-02-2012). "Interview with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
- Evanier, Mark. (July 10, 2002).Post on "News from Me" blog for Povonline.com. Retrieved on March 27, 2006. Excerpt: "Fred was based on Dobie, Velma on Zelda, Daphne on Thalia and Shaggy on Maynard."
- Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows
- Hickman, Dwayne, Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman, Carol Publishing Corporation, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1994
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.|
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis at TV.com
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis at the Internet Movie Database
- The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953 film) at the Internet Movie Database
- Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis? (1977 TV movie) at the Internet Movie Database
- Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988 TV movie) at the Internet Movie Database