A fireball of multifaceted talents and acting versatility, Dawn Wells has finally surrendered her life before the villainy of COVID-19! Known for her lovable castaway role as Mary Ann Summers on “Gilligan’s Island,” died in Los Angeles on Wednesday from Covid-19 complications, her publicist Harlan Boll confirmed to CNN. She was 82.
Being an Actress and TV movie producer Dawn Wells was a native of Reno, Nev., and started out as a beauty queen. In 1959, as Miss Nevada, she competed in the Miss America pageant. It was her ticket into show business; soon after, she had minor roles in such shows as 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Bonanza and The Joey Bishop Show. In 1964, Wells became the wide-eyed, pigtailed Mary Ann — a sharp contrast to another female castaway, the sexpot movie actress Ginger (played by Tina Louise). The Ginger-vs.-Mary Ann rivalry was a very mid-1960s, straight male fantasy of feminine ideals.
After the grand success of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ which got premiered for about a decade, she later appeared on such shows as Vega$, Growing Pains, The Bold and the Beautiful and Baywatch — on which her character was once again named Mary Ann. She also voiced Gumbalina Toothington on the children’s show The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants and, as a producer, brought movies to CVS, Showtime and Amazon.
The Beauty Queen Dawn Wells dies at 82
She established an institute for up-and-coming filmmakers in Idaho … it’s called the Spud Film Institute. There was actually a big debate among fans of ‘Gilligan’s’ during the run of the show — namely, who’s sexier — the wholesome Mary Ann or the sultry movie star, Ginger.
Wells titled her 2014 self-help book (written with Steve Stinson) ‘What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life’.
On Christmas Eve, Wells posted a holiday message and short video to her Facebook page. She wrote, “Keep you heart light and share a few laughs and conversation with someone near and far… Please find joy amidst the pandemic and be cognizant of our overwhelmed first responders. Let’s not let our actions make a bigger burden for them. I am thankful and in awe of the dedication of our health care professionals.”
Dawn was married once in the ’60s to Larry Rosen. They divorced after 5 years.
Her death has in fact shook the entire Industry. RIP Dawn Wells! May her soul rest in peace.