Dreama Denver has had a dream life. Married for over 25 years to the late, great Bob Denver (aka Gilligan from “Gilligan’s Island”), Dreama and Bob had the most beautiful love story. Celebrity Parents spoke exclusively with Dreama about her husband, her work with the Denver Foundation, and why her life today is better than a 3 hour tour.
[laughs] That is so sweet. Bob was such a wonderful person, and great with his fans. If he was at a book signing, he would say, “I don’t care how long the line is. I will look each person in the eye and give them something to take away from having met me.” Whether it was answering their questions, or asking them a question about themselves, he knew it was a big deal for them to meet him. It was a momentous moment in their lives and he realized that. Bob was a good guy, so your fandom was not misplaced!
I’m so happy to hear that! Now, you have often said that Bob was your soul mate.
I know it’s such a clichéd term, but yes, we were truly soul mates and the love of each other’s lives. We both realized how lucky we were and we never took it for granted. He would wake up in the morning and say, “I just want to thank you for keeping such a beautiful home for me.” We had a passion for each other as human beings. It was rare, but real.
And together you channeled that passion in raising your son, Colin.
We dedicated our lives to caring for our son, Colin, who is severely autistic. We did it lovingly and willingly. We gave up everything for him, and we wouldn’t have done anything differently. We took care of him by ourselves, without the help of anyone.
After Bob passed away, you took over the Denver Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that you and your husband founded.
The Denver Foundation was created by Bob and I to help disabled and disadvantaged people living in West Virginia, which was Bob’s adopted home state. We wanted to help other families who were struggling with disabled children, like we were. Everyone thinks that because Bob was Gilligan, he was rich. He didn’t make a penny. We were like every other family dealing with autism, and now, it’s at an epidemic level. We struggled like everyone else.
Bob had much bigger goals than I did. The original intent was to build an assisted living home to house people like our son. When Bob died, the thought of taking over the Foundation was so overwhelming to me. Today, I run it, along with Little Buddy Radio.
Let’s talk about the radio station.
Bob was so proud of the radio station. His dream was for it to be online and heard all over the world…and now it is. We have listeners everywhere, even in Mongolia! [laughs] People can hear the music they love, and we have actively sought out artists who may not be household names yet, but are incredibly talented. I am a true champion for independent artists who are making great music.
And you’re currently working on your memoirs.
The book is all about life, love and loyalty. Bob and I had a beautiful love story that lasted through many years, and many tough times. The love never wavered, though. I know that the book will find the right publisher. Bob’s autobiography, Gilligan, Maynard & Me, was a huge success.
There have been rumors for years about a remake of Gilligan’s Island. What are your thoughts?
For the last 20 years, we had heard rumors about the movie. The fact that it might become a reality is pretty exciting! That said, there is something about a young actor who is going to make millions of dollars when Bob spent his entire career known as Gilligan and never made a penny that you have to wrap your mind around. And that’s true of all the castaways. They had challenges at home, but the actors never made money on the series. There’s something not right about it.
It’s really not fair, but I think you have to try to find the positive in it. Bob paved the way for the new actors to have fair rights in terms of contractual negotiations, residuals, and the like.
Jennifer, I like the way you think! That is true. That’s just the way it was. No one foresaw DVD’s and mass syndication. Their contracts couldn’t reflect it. And we realized that sometimes riches come in ways that are not monetary. Gilligan’s Island brought joy to millions of people all over the world. There were so many letters from people who had an abusive childhood, or who were in difficult situations. They would write things like: “Gilligan’s Island was my escape, and for half an hour, I was on the island with you.” When you read those things, the money becomes very secondary when you realize that you brought peace to people’s lives, even for half an hour a day.
Between running the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, you are truly honoring your husband’s legacy.
After going through such tremendous grieving, I knew that the best way to celebrate Bob’s life was to live my life to the fullest. Otherwise, I felt it wouldn’t honor him. Of course, there will never be another Bob, not even if I live to be 1,000. So now, I will now purposely say yes to something that scares me. I was asked to be a commencement speaker at a graduation. I was scared, but I did it! I said to Bob, “Aha! Even you never did that!”
I love that you speak to him still.
I think he would be blown away at what I’m doing. When I say to my daughter, “Your dad would be shocked at what I’m doing”, she said, “Mom, Dad thought you could do anything.” I’ve taken from his death that I should live my life and challenge myself. That’s what he would expect of me. And when I was curled up in grief on my sofa, I knew that there was no way that any of this would make him happy. He would expect so much more of me. I came to this realization, and then I walked through the world like I owned it! [laughs] Bob would always call me Dreams, and he would say to me, “That’s my girl.” I bet that’s what he’s saying right now.