UPDATE: The seventh anniversary of Denver's death in September 2005 was announced as news on Twitter and far beyond, proving the actor remains universarlly loved.
Bob Denver and Scooby Doo
B y Nola Evangelista (2002)
Before it was released, the Scooby Doo movie was scrubbed of its marijuana references, the only possible reason to see it. The debacle was reminiscent of the last-minute attempt to remove the marijuana pseudonym "muggles" from promotional materials for the first Harry Potter movie. But the truth came out after the Scooby Movie opened when Casey Casem, the voice of cartoon Scooby, revealed that Scooby Doo's name was taken from Frank Sinatra's nonsense verse in "Strangers in the Night" (…scoobie doobie doo, be doobie doobie…).
No one quite knows how a "doobie" became something the Doobie Brothers smoked before they, too, got the Betty Ford religion. But for all you cats and kitties out there too young to remember, Scooby's buddy Shaggy wasn't the first stoner on television. It was Maynard G. Krebs, beatnik buddy to the title character in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959-1963). Actor Bob Denver played the role and you could almost hear Cab Calloway in the background singing "Reefer Man" when he was scat rapping his lines, man. You need look no further for Shaggy's role model, complete with goatee.
In the show, Maynard and Dobie's father, who owned a grocery store, were in a continual struggle for Dobie's soul, with Maynard convinced life is for enjoying and Dobie's Dad only happy when Dobie was behind a push broom. Dobie's father would lie, cheat, or steal for money and while Dobie often got caught up in his father's schemes, by the end of the happy half hour he would always come around to Maynard's point of view.
After the Kennedy assassination of 1963, the networks erased Dobie ("do" meaning gift; "bea" meaning blessed, happy); transformed Gillis ("youthful, beautiful one") into Gilligan, and set culture on the Right track once more with "Gilligan's Island" (1964-1967). As John Lennon put it, we were "doped with religion, sex and TV." With its desert-island theme, Gilligan's Island was part Beverly Hillbillies, part Survivor. Instead of Hip Maynard, Denver now played Gilligan the Pop-eyed sailor under the thumb of the Bloatocracy, with no spinach around to put in his pipe and fortify him. In his new role Denver forsook his former love Mary Jane for Mary Ann, a ditzy Daisy Mae ripe and ready for breeding good little soldiers. Gone was the wisecracking, know-your-own-mind girlfriend of Dobie Gillis, played by Shelia Kuehl, who now plays the role of California Assemblywoman with all the aplomb of Zelda. As if this wasn't enough, Gilligan's Island threw in a breathless baby doll Spice Girl, a handsome dud reminiscent of Cary Grant in "Bringing up Baby," and Mr. Magoo as a Millionaire.
Kennedy wasn't all that was assassinated in 1963. Culture took a hit too. The whitewash was so complete that when Denver was arrested for having a shipment of marijuana delivered to him at his home in West Virginia in 1998, every major news outlet missed the obvious connection, remembering him only as poor Gilligan.
In the theatre where I attended Scoobie Doo, the only crowd reaction was kids laughing at the fart jokes. How much lower can culture sink? Ah, but Shaggy alone espouses the ideals of comaraderie and loyalty, bringing together the rest of his bratty bunch to save the day. Oh yes, and his dream girl is named Mary Jane. The spark is passed to another generation.
See: Gilligan's Girl Busted for Ganja