Dawn Wells, who famously played Mary Ann Summers on the hit show Gilligan’s Island, has died. She was 82.
She died in Los Angeles of COVID-19-related causes Wednesday morning, according to her publicist.
The actress starred as the unapologetic “good girl” who was stranded on an island with six other castaways. “Gilligan’s Island” ran from 1964 to 1967 – for three seasons – and yet it has never gone off the air. It continues to be screened across the world in over 30 languages.
Wells, a Reno native, represented Nevada in the Miss America pageant in 1959 before taking on the iconic role. For the role of Mary Ann, she beat out 350 other actors, including Raquel Welch.
She wrote a 2014 memoir, “What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life,” that riffed on her sweet and loveable character. Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on the show, captured the soul of Mary Ann in the foreword of the book.
“We love Mary Ann because she is the future, the hope of our world,” he wrote. “The youngest of the castaways, Mary Ann has her entire life in front of her. Watching her unfailing good cheer, her optimism is never in question. We love her because we need her emotional support and her belief that all will turn out well … We love Mary Ann because of Dawn Wells.”
Tina Louise, who played Ginger, is now the only surviving member of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast. She is 86.
Wells also appeared in “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
In 2018, Wells took a tumble and found herself inundated with medical and tax bills. A friend created a GoFundMe account for the actress, USA Today reported at the time, though she denied being “dead broke.” She ended up getting nearly $200,000 in donations, taking to Facebook to thank fans.
“Where did the time go? I don’t know how this happened,” she wrote. “I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money. Im grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care, or it would all be too …. overwhelming …..I am grateful to any of my fans who are willing to offer support.”
– With Fox News and New York Post