Archie / Dobie Gillis

When I was a young 'un in the 1960s watching reruns of Dobie Gillis, I noticed the way the Archie characters matched up with it.

Archie — your regular guy teenager
Dobie Gillis — your regular guy hero

Jughead — asexual lazy goof; only passion is for food, always eating
Maynard G. Krebs — asexual lazy slob; only passion is for food, always eating

Betty — blonde love interest
Thalia — blond love interest

Veronica — brunette love interest; foil of Betty
Zelda — brunette love interest; foil of Thalia

Reggie — rich kid antagonist
Milton — rich kid antagonists

I pointed out this analysis to my Dad and he agreed with it. Then there was Maynard G. Krebs as the inspiration for Shaggy, which is another story.

I always thought Maynard G. Krebs was the original pothead…
He liked to play the bongos a bit too much…

His marihuana habit could not be shown directly, but was conveyed clearly enough as he always had the “munchies.” :wink:

Great stuff, Jomo; I never made that connection, and I’m an avid fan of both Arch and Dobie.

Dobie Gillis and The Monkees are two of the greatest studies in television irony ever.

I think you’ve got Betty and Veronica mixed up. Sure, the hair color is right, but Thalia is the rich, glamorous girl, whereas Zelda, like Betty, is the less spectacular one who is nonetheless a better person and a better match for our hero.


It’s interesting to remember that Max Shulman completely recast the Dobie Gillis story when he created the tv series. The orignal book The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a 1953 collection of short stories featuring a college student Dobie. (A movie, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis was made from it in 1953.) Shulman did a follow-up, I Was a Teen-Age Dwarf, in 1959. It’s been many, many years since i read these but I’m pretty sure that everything we know and love about the tv series were invented specifically for it.

A scholarly but readable article on the history of the show is available here.

I personally just can’t put too much belief in the Archie/Dobie connection. It smacks too much of one of those fake lists of pairs that you see in magazines occasionally.

As a kid I loved the tv series and I still do. It had about a million original aspects and didn’t resemble anything else on tv at the time. Zelda, if you’re out there, forget Dobie. I’m married but I’ll make room for you.

[Yes, I know in real life that Sheila James is a lesbian.]

She’s also a California State Senator:

Yes, I knew that. Yes, I’m really a fan.

From her web site:

So was she a good pick as the brainy Zelda or was she a good pick?

I’ve only seen it on Nick at Night, of course, but um, why did Dobie’s hair color go from black to blond?

I didn’t mix them up, the cross-comparison is inherent in the two sets of characters. I was going to point out how the blonde in one corresponded to the brunette in the other, and vice versa. But you explained it well, thanks.

What I want to know about Archie and Dobie is: Who cribbed from whom? Can these parallels be merely pure coincidence???

I think these are pretty much standard characters and you’re making too much out of them.

Archie = Jimmy Stewart
Jughead = Clarence (bumbling, etc, comic relief)

Two women - Donna Reed (brunette) and the blonde girl (I forget her name) whom Jimmy Stewart doesn’t go with but helps out. (This is a single movie, not a series, so the hero winds up with one of the women; in a series, there would be a ongoing competition.)

Rich opponent - The banker
Archie - Hero
Jughead = sidekick, comic relief

Two women, the brunette and the blonde (usually the blonde is the prostitute with heart of gold who dies in the end, but oh, well)

Villian - the rich cattle owner

Archie = Ralph
Jughead = Norton (comic relief side-kick)

Blonde = Alice
Brunette = Trixie

OK, no villain per se.
My point is that there are standard, stereotype situations.

The short story collection THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS was published in 1953, as our friend Harpo-in-Russian points out above…again, they were tales of a horny student at a large co-educational university, and had little to do with the teevee program. The Archie comics go back to the 1940s.

No, no, don’t give away my secret identity!


And sorry, again, because The Many Loves was actually published in 1951, not 1953, which was the date of the movie. My fingers get behind my mind at times. Or is it that my mind gets ahead of my fingers?

And I say again that the Archie comparisons are spurious. Zelda was not introduced as a recurring character until Thalia was off the show, so there never was a foursome and the two females were never foils of one another. To say that Maynard-the-jazz-buff’s only passion was for food is just silly. Dobie was superficially similar to Archie mostly because that’s the way teen culture was thought of in those pre-60s days but it’s all surface and nothing more.

From Forever Dobie by Dwayne Hickman.