Before donning his iconic bucket hat, Bob Denver starred as beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” He played Maynard for significantly more episodes than he did Gilligan, even if “Dobie Gillis” didn’t have the lasting popularity of “Gilligan’s Island.”
But a mere four episodes into production, Denver got a draft notice from the US Army. This was actually written into the show, with Maynard getting drafted and receiving an emotional on-screen farewell. His role was filled by Jerome Krebs (Michael J. Pollard), Maynard’s similar beatnik cousin.
Ready to leave behind what looked like rare steady work on television, Denver reported to the Army for his physical. But due to an old neck injury, he was classified 4F — unfit for service. As he recalled during an interview in 1998, Denver returned to set, thrilled that he could work on the show again — only to find out that everyone thought he was joking. It took several hours before writer Max Shulman realized Denver was serious, but he told the actor to go home and wait for a call since they had Pollard signed already.
Ultimately, this story has a happy ending for all involved. Denver got his role back, and Pollard got paid off for 30 episodes despite only ever appearing in two.