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Dwayne Hickman — TV's Dobie Gillis — was born 89 years ago today
Dwayne Hickman, actor who played the Dobie Gillis on television, was born 89 years ago today.
A former actor and television executive at CBS, Hickman was known primarily for "teenager" roles on television sitcoms. He found fame on CBS's “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”
Born in Los Angeles, Hickman was the younger brother of child actor, Darryl Hickman. While working on Bob Cummings television show in 1958, Hickman was cast in the lead of Dobie Gillis, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963.
Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus played his opposite-minded parents. Although at the show's debut the Dobie character was a teenager in high school, Hickman was then twenty-five years old. After playing Dobie for four years (with fellow former Loyola student, Bob Denver, as his sidekick, Maynard G. Krebs), Hickman found himself stereotyped as a "youngster" when he was too old for such roles.
Hickman found his future in entertainment behind the scenes, being involved in production roles. From 1977 to 1988, Hickman served as a programming executive at CBS, a role which he spoofed in several on-camera roles. He worked as a director on various television series, including Designing Women and Head of the Class.
He reprised his role of Dobie in two television reunion broadcasts, the one-shot pilot, Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis (1977), and the TV movie, Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988). His autobiography is entitled, Forever Dobie.
The show broke ground in depicting elements of counterculture, particularly the Beat Generation (albeit primarily embodied in the stereotypical form of the "beatnik"), not seen in earlier series. Dobie’s partner-in-crime was television's first beatnik, Krebs, who became the series' breakout character.
An enthusiastic fan of jazz (with a strong distaste for the music of Lawrence Welk), Maynard Krebs plays the bongos, collects tinfoil and petrified frogs. He 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.
Hickman, the star of the series, would later say that Dobie represented “the end of innocence of the 1950s before the oncoming 1960s revolution.”
Hickman died from complications of Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles on January 9, 2022, at the age of 87.
Here, Hickman and Denver overhear Tuesday Weld as she talks to Warren Beatty, who appeared on the show.
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