Child actress Sheila Kuehl was a memorable classic sitcoms character, playing the quirky but brainy wanna-be girlfriend of Dobie Gillis from the classic sitcom THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS(which ran from 1959 until 1963). You’d be very surprised where Sheila Kuehl is today. She has had a successful career these days in California politics, even becoming the first openly Gay state senator, running as a Democrat, in the state as well as being elected a member of the Los Angeles County Board Of Supervisors. In real life the actress was just as brainy as her character on Dobie Gillis, becoming a lawyer among other achievements.
The actress was raised in a household with a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, but claimed to have spent much more time in her spiritual and religious life on Friday evening temple worship than in Sunday mass. This Jewish identity seemed to come in handy in her race for the district 3 supervisor election. Since 1974, the seat was referred to as the “Jewish seat” for the county board, where a coalition of Jewish and Black voters have consistently elected a Jew to the post starting back with the election of Ed Edelman.
Kuehl’s character on Dobie Gillis was always a little bit “tomboyish” to say the least, which Kuehl to this day likes to joke about as being “too butch” of a character. Yet, Kuehl must take a lot of credit for her memorable character that still remains popular to this day in the popular teenager sitcom that also featured Dwayne Hickman as Dobie Gillis well as Bob Denver as his beatnik pal, Maynard G. Krebs. Bob Denver’s character was indeed memorable as well, and his goofy persona no doubt only helped him to nail down his role as Gilligan on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND a little later.
Sadly, Sheila Kuehl, now 74, is one of the few surviving cast characters from the classic sitcom. Dwayne Hickman is now 81. Bob Denver passed away back in 2005 at the age of 70. Frank Faylen who played the long-suffering small grocery store owner father of Dobie Gillis died in 1985 at the age of 79. Florida Friebus who played the supportive mother of Dobie Gillis died at age of 78 back in 1988.
Sheila Kuehl brought us many laughs with her quirky Zelda character, making so many fans of the classic comedy so grateful to her excellent talents as a child actress in the memorable series. Thank you Sheila!