He died Friday at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina of complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer, his agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
His wife, Dreama, and children Patrick, Megan, Emily and Colin were with Denver, who also had undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery earlier this year.
"He was my everything and I will love him forever," Dreama Denver said in a statement.
Denver's signature role was Gilligan, but when he took the role in 1964 he was already widely known to TV audiences for another iconic character, Maynard G. Krebs, the bearded beatnik friend of Dwayne Hickman's Dobie in the "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963.
Krebs, whose only desire was to play the bongos and hang out at coffee houses, would shriek every time the word "work" was mentioned in his presence.
Gilligan on the other hand was industrious but inept. And his character was as lovable as he was inept. Viewers embraced the skinny kid in the Buster Brown haircut and white sailor hat. So did the Minnow's skipper, Jonas Grumby, who was played by Alan Hale Jr., and who always referred to his first mate affectionately as "little buddy."
"As silly as it seems to all of us, it has made a difference in a lot of children's lives," Dawn Wells, who played castaway Mary Ann Summers, once said. "Gilligan is a buffoon that makes mistakes and I cannot tell you how many kids come up and say, `But you loved him anyway."'