“Gilligan’s Island” star Bob Denver had to live hand-to-mouth, yet he made the decision to give up his career so that his son Colin is not put in an institution because of his condition.

    Although Bob Denver portrayed a bumbling, dim-witted character in “Gilligan’s Island,” the real man was caring and sweet.

    Bob met his wife in a small play, and the two had a child after falling in love.

    The actor eventually sacrificed his career so he could take care of his autistic son, ensuring the boy wouldn’t have to go to an institution.

    Bob Denver made a name for himself with the popular TV shows “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” The actor portrayed the silly, bumbling goofball Gilligan in “Gilligan’s Island,” earning himself scores of fans with his portrayal of the dim-witted character.

    Although Bob became famous for his role as Gilligan, and many saw him as synonymous with the first mate, the truth was that Bob was a caring and committed man in reality. Throughout his life, the actor ensured that he gave his family everything they needed, despite their financial troubles, and he was a doting dad.

    Bob Denver in "Gilligan's Island," 1964 | Source: Getty Images

    Bob’s wife, Dreama Denver, opened up about her husband, saying she wanted the world to know the real man behind the goofy character of Gilligan. She shared that Bob was a “special, special man,” who cared deeply for those he loved and would have done anything to ensure that they were doing well.

    Although his drinking was a problem, she could never truly let go of Bob, and she would always return.

    Although Bob and his wife faced a few problems over the years, the two managed to work through them all, strengthening their marriage and building a bond that lasted their entire lives. Bob proved himself to be entirely committed to his family and gave up numerous things to ensure they were happy.

    How Bob Met His Beloved Wife
    After making a name for himself as Gilligan, Bob took a part in a small play produced by a local theatre. Little did he know the small production would change his life dramatically. Like her husband, Dreama was also in the acting business, and when a friend referred her to the production of “Play it Again Sam,” she auditioned for a part.

    In 1984, he and Dreama had a child of their own, Colin Denver, and the young boy changed their lives for good.

    Bob Denver and Dreama Denver, circa 1981 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

    Dreama got the part, and naturally, Bob also successfully landed a role. The two would be acting opposite each other, and their characters would even be embroiled in a romantic relationship. Dreama shared that she was hesitant to star with Bob at first because of his role in “Gilligan’s Island,” confessing:

    “I got the part, and thought ‘I’m going to have to kiss Gilligan? Really?’ Little did I know I would be doing those love scenes for the next 28 years.”

    The pair hit it off, and they soon tied the knot. However, Dreama confessed that the first few years of their relationship were unexpectedly rocky. The couple fought often, initially not quite seeing eye-to-eye. They loved each other, but Bob had a dependency on alcohol, while Dreama wanted him to get sober.

    Dreama noted that Bob didn’t know how to deal with his reputation. She shared that the actor was usually a shy and secluded person, and the love from the public was too much for him to handle, so he turned to drinking. After a while, it became a point of contempt between him and Dreama, and she would often leave him.

    Every time Dreama left, Bob would go get her. Although his drinking was a problem, she could never truly let go of Bob, and she would always return. In the end, she knew she had to stick around and wait for the day Bob realized their relationship was more important than alcohol.

    How Having a Son Changed Bob’s Life
    By the time Bob met Dreama, the actor had already made a name for himself in Hollywood, hung up his hat as a TV actor, and even fathered three children. In 1984, he and Dreama had a child of their own, Colin Denver, and the young boy changed their lives for good.

    Sadly, Bob never got to see his son grow up.

    Dreama shared that many people assumed they were rich since they saw Bob on television so frequently, but in reality, the family struggled desperately with their finances. Bob hadn’t been paid exorbitant amounts for his role as Gilligan, and back then, actors weren’t paid for reruns of their work.

    When Colin came along, the family’s financial situation worsened. From a young age, Dreama and Bob realized their son wasn’t developing like other children, and a doctor at UCLA Medical Center told them that the young boy was “retarded.”

    Colin was eventually diagnosed with severe autism and a seizure disorder, which meant the young boy needed constant care and attention. Although their finances were tight, Bob and Dreama’s lives were forever changed by the arrival of their son, with Bob giving up drinking and his career to care for Colin.

    Bob’s Passing and Colin Growing Up
    Bob took to caring for his son full-time, giving up his career despite the family’s financial woes. He and Dreama adored Colin, spending as much time with the boy as they possibly could and seeing to his every need. Dreama has repeatedly shared images of Colin on her Instagram, captioning a post made on his birthday:

    “For all of his 39 years, this boy has owned my heart. I wish his dad could see him now, especially the little balding spot on the crown of his head. Like me, I don’t think Bob would believe it! Happy Birthday, Colin-O! Your dad and I love you now and forever.”

    Sadly, Bob never got to see his son grow up. The actor started losing his voice in 2004, and by 2005, he realized he had lost a lot of weight. He finally went to see a specialist, who threaded a small camera down his throat to take a look and found an unusual growth on his voice box.

    Bob's wife, Dreama Denver, shows his son on her Instagram page | Instagram/dreamadenver

    One MRI scan later and Bob was diagnosed with stage IV hypopharyngeal cancer. The cancer was rare but aggressive, and by the time Bob had his scan, it had spread to large parts of his sinuses, his larynx, his tongue, thyroid gland, neck muscles, and lymph nodes in his lower jaw.

    After a complex surgery that didn’t yield completely satisfactory results, Bob was placed on respirators. His condition wasn’t improving, and by the end of 2005, Dreama decided to turn off the respirators, and Bob succumbed to cancer much like Farah Fawcett. Dreama stated after his death, “His legacy was the love of his fans. He always said that that made him richer than any residuals could have.”

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