So, we're just sitting around in the 50's, watching this new thing called TV. Life was good, and America was the place to be. No turmoil; no big complaints being voiced in loud screams. And then along comes Maynard G. Krebs.
We have never heard of beatniks where I lived. So this was like watching some sort of alien from another planet. I now know that Kerouac was out there on the road during this same space in time, but how could I have known about him then?
There can really be no doubt that this character on this show started something; something very, very big. I would suspect that the world as we know it would not be the same had he not showed up. Hippies were a direct result of beatniks; in fact, it could be argued that they were just a generational evolution of the concept. Would there have never been hippies without this mainstream exposure of a real live beatnik? It's possible.
Bob Denver had been a Catholic school teacher, and he didn't know much more about beatniks than the rest of us. He said he just played Maynard's part like a naïve version of himself. He did like jazz, so the jazz musicians of his day played a big part in the way he played the role. In fact, can you imagine a 1950's sitcom other than Dobie Gillis which had name-droppings of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk?
So, when Maynard wasn't listening to jazz, he was playing the bongos or scat singing. Some of his other favorite phrases, aside from the trademark "WORK?" were, "You rang?" and "Like, I'm getting all misty."
The Dobie Gillis show ended its run in 1962. Denver had put out an album by this time entitled, "Like, What?" It was such an honest sounding effort that no one was really sure if it was a put-on or an actual effort at jazz. Only a few hundred promotional copies were pressed and a mint copy these days is worth thousands of dollars.