GILLIGAN’S ISLAND Star Dawn Wells Dies at the Age of 82
By Movieguide® Staff
Dawn Wells, who starred as Mary Ann in the popular 1960s sitcom GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, died on Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles after complications related to Covid-19. She was 82.
Aside from Tina Louise, Wells was the last surviving member of the Sherwood Schwartz-created show’s regular cast.
“Dawn was an actress, producer, author, journalist, motivational speaker, teacher, humanitarian, spokesperson, and chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation — focusing on women and children in Northern Nevada and ran her Film Actors Boot Camp for 7 years in Idaho,” Wells’ publicist told NBC News.
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND did not see immediate success during its three-year run from 1964-67. However, after reruns hit local-station airwaves, the show became one of the biggest syndication hits of the late-’60 and 1970s.
Before Wells appeared on the sitcom, she represented Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant and appeared on several TV series.
Born on Oct. 18, 1938, in Reno, NV, Wells began guesting on such popular drama and Western series as Bonanza, Maverick, Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip and Wagon Train in the early 1960s. She continued to work consistently in more than a dozen guest roles before scoring the Mary Ann role. She appeared in a handful of smaller movies in the mid-’70s before doing the Gilligan’s Island toon series and movies, then went on to guest on such hits as Columbo, Roseanne, Baywatch, ALF and others.
She continued to work sporadically in TV through the 2010s.
In addition to acting, Wells was a producer, author, journalist, motivational speaker, teacher and chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation, focusing on women and children in Northern Nevada. She also ran her Film Actors Boot Camp for seven years in Idaho.
Wells is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells. No services are scheduled at this time.
Even in her last days, Wells remained optimistic and encouraged others to look on the bright side of life.
Movieguide® previously reported:
The 82-year-old is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers, from GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, which ran for three seasons from 1964 to 1967. The beloved show continues to air to this day in over 30 languages.
“At a time when it feels like everything is bad news, the good still outweighs the bad,” Wells told Fox News. “So even in tough times, we can and should be grateful for everything around us. I wake up and I am grateful to have another day. I am grateful to feel a seasonal cool morning through my patio door. I am grateful for those who take the time to say ‘hi’ if to simply show that you matter.”
“I am grateful for my life and career and the comforts it allows me at this time when the world wrestles with new challenges and uncertainties,” Wells shared. “I am grateful for our resilience as human beings and the God-given talents that lead to innovations for the better good.”