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Dawn Wells

'Gilligan's Island' Star Dawn Wells Passes Away At Age 82

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By Carol Cassada

Actress Dawn Wells, best remembered for her role as Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82.

Wells' death was due to issues related to COVID, but the star had been in ailing health for some time.

In 2018, a nasty fall required medical treatment, which caused a strain on the actress' finances.

A GoFundMe page was set up by Wells' friend, and fans flocked to help their beloved star.

Upon learning of the fundraiser, Wells said she was grateful for everyone's support.

Humble Beginnings 

Dawn Wells early career
Freeman and Best - Wikipedia

Wells was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. After graduating from high school, she would attend college in Missouri before transferring to the University of Washington, where she earned a degree in theater arts.

In 1959, Wells became part of the beauty pageant world, and was crowned Miss Nevada.

By 1960, Hollywood came calling and Wells set out on her acting journey. She landed guest spots on television such as "The Roaring 20s" and "77 Sunset Strip."

While she worked steadily, it wouldn't be until 1964 when she received her biggest role.

'Gilligan's Island' Darling

Dawn Wells Gilligans Island
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In 1964, Wells was cast as farm girl Mary Ann Summers on the CBS comedy "Gilligan's Island."

Wells beat out Pat Priest and Raquel Welch to win the role of the adorable farm girl.

The Sherwood Schwartz sitcom followed seven castaways on a deserted island. The characters came from various backgrounds, and every week viewers tuned in to watch the group adjust to life on the island, while also coming up with a plan to be rescued.

All the characters were loved by fans, and Mary Ann became a favorite due to her girl next door looks and her domestic side.

For three seasons the show aired and was popular with viewers, but in 1967, CBS canceled the sitcom.

Loved Mary Ann Role

Dawn Wells Mary Ann
The Hollywood Reporter - Twitter

Mary Ann would be Wells' signature role, one that the actress cherished.

Well would reprise her role as Mary Ann in various "Gilligan's Island" movies and reunion special. 

In 1993, she released a cookbook titles "Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook," which featured dishes inspired by the series, including Mary Ann's famous coconut cream pie.

Wells has spoken fondly about her time on the show, including the bond she shared with her cast mates. When asked about the show's popularity, Wells believed that the timelessness of the series is what made it a classic.

Life After Gilligan's Island

Dawn Wells Gilligans Island career
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Although, she was mostly recognized for her role as Mary Ann, Wells continued to work steadily following the show's cancellation.

She went on to have guest-starring roles on "The Wild Wild West" and "Bonanza." She also landed roles in small films such as "Return To Boggy Creek" and "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."

Aside from film and television, Wells also worked in various theater productions throughout the 70s' and 80s.'

When she wasn't acting, Wells spent her time helping numerous charities, including the Denver Foundation, created by the family of her late "Gilligan's Island" co-star Bob Denver.

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