The Right Coast

September 18, 2005
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Bob Denver, who played Maynard G. Krebs, died early this month. Maynard was the beatnik friend of Dobie Gillis, on the CBS sitcom that aired from 1959 to 1963. Meghan Daum writes:
The primordial hip nonconformist, (the "G," he insisted, stood for Walter), Maynard was thought by many at the time to be the nation's most famous beatnik, better known and perhaps more lovable than the likes of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs.

In what even today would be an unlikely set of traits in a sitcom character, Maynard was a jazz fan who talked frequently about Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, played the bongos and ocarina and even sang scat. He wore a goatee, baggy clothes and invoked a kind of hipster parlance.

[T]he difference between Maynard's brand of slacker — and with his famous aversion to work, he was certainly among the first of the slackers — and today's acne-ridden layabout is that Maynard, for all his silliness, was inherently wise. His sense of justice arose directly out of his cultural interests, not in spite of them. His character was the result of what he dug rather than what he didn't dig. His love of Thelonious Monk didn't preclude his friendship with the straight-laced Dobie. A hippie, with all of his circumscribed cultural baggage, would probably have dismissed Dobie as an incorrigible square. Maynard was nuanced enough to have friends on both sides of the radio dial.

For that, we have Denver to thank. May Bob Denver, like, rest in peace.
And Scott Johnson, over at Powerline, has good memories of Maynard as well.