Sidebar Menu

Sunday, Apr 2021

<div>Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' dies of COVID-19 at 82</div>
ART

Dawn Wells, who starred as girl-next-door Mary Ann in the 1960s hit TV show "Gilligan's Island," died of complications from COVID-19. She was 82.

Actress Dawn Wells, the former beauty queen who became America’s sweetheart playing the sweet castaway Mary Ann on the TV series “Gilligan’s Island,” has died. She was 82.

Wells died Wednesday of complications from COVID-19, her publicist Harlan Boll said in a statement to The Times.

“America’s favorite castaway, Dawn Wells, passed peacefully this morning, in no pain as a result of complications due to Covid,” Boll said.

The Reno native, who competed as Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant, became synonymous with the castaway during the CBS sitcom’s run between 1964 and 1967. She also appeared in “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Hawaiian Eye.”

Advertisement

Lifestyle

I invited Mary Ann to a Gilligan-themed tiki party — and she showed up

Lifestyle

I invited Mary Ann to a Gilligan-themed tiki party — and she showed up

A half century after Mary Ann got off the island, we’re taking her back. Dawn Wells joins us for a Gilligan-themed tiki party in Echo Park.

Mary Ann was modeled after Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” a Kansas farm girl with pigtails and gingham dresses. She reportedly beat out 350 prospective actress, including Raquel Welch, for the role. CBS paid her $700 a week when she started.

Playing the bright, fair-minded and reasonable castaway, she was often foiled against the harebrained antics of the show’s other characters.

Dawn Wells at her Valley Village home, left, and as a member of “Gilligan’s Island.” (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; CBS-TV) Advertisement

“It’s amazing to see what the 45-year-old man who is now raising children is saying to me,” Wells told The Times in 2014. “You were my fantasy. You were the girl I would take to the prom. You were the girl who understood my problems.’”

Despite her popularity — and the infamous competition with “the movie star” castaway, Ginger — her character, and the coconut-loving Professor, didn’t originally appear in the show’s catchy theme song until her costar Tina Louise (Ginger Grant) insisted on it.

I am devastated today. Truly, at the top of the list of hardest things to do is announce the passing of a friend or...

Posted by B Harlan Boll on Wednesday, December 30, 2020

“Dawn would say that Mary Ann fits today just as she fit three generations ago, because she is timeless,” Boll said. “In a world where the industry and society has been celebrating their ‘Bad girls,’ Mary Ann continues to be, for many, the breathe [sic] of fresh air as the ‘Good Girl.’”

Advertisement

Wells’ gingham dress and famous belly button-covering shorts from the series are currently on display in the lobby of the Hollywood Museum, Boll said.

Movies

Classic Hollywood: The world according to Dawn Wells, a.k.a. ‘Gilligan Island’s’ Mary Ann

Movies

Classic Hollywood: The world according to Dawn Wells, a.k.a. ‘Gilligan Island’s’ Mary Ann

Ever since the premiere of the CBS sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” 50 years ago, people have been asking the burning question: Ginger or Mary Ann?

More recently, Wells played Annie Hughes in the web series “Life Interrupted” and the web series shorts “She’s Still on That Freaking Island” with Terry Ray. She voiced Gumbalina Toothington in the animated series “The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants.”

No services are scheduled at this time, and in lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum or the Shambala Preserve.

Back To Top