Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on the TV series Gilligan’s Island, died on Tuesday. She was 82 years old. According to her publicist, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Wells died in Los Angeles due to complications of COVID-19.
Wells played Mary Ann for the entire run of Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967 on CBS). She gained a lot of popularity for her girl-next-door look and continued to gain fans over the decades due to the show continuing to air via syndication. The other cast members on the show were Gilligan (Bob Denver); the Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.); millionaire Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) and his wife, Lovey (Natalie Schafer); the Professor (Russell Johnson); and Hollywood starlet Ginger Grant (Trina Louise), who is now the last surviving member of the regular cast.
“There hasn’t been a Mary Ann on the air for I don’t know how long,” Wells said in a 2008 interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “There hasn’t been a good girl over 14, and Mary Ann was very much that. The Mary Ann-Ginger issue is always there. You had to be a real man to understand Ginger, and Mary Ann would’ve gone to the prom with you and been your best friend. A lot of guys would come up to me and say, ‘I married a Mary Ann.’ She had the values.”
After Gilligan’s Island, Wells continued to work in Hollywood, appearing in shows such as Bonanza, Alf, Rosanne and Baywatch. She also appeared in a few Gilligan’s Island TV movies including Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. According to her IMDB page, Wells’ last credit appearance came in 2019 when she voiced Gumbalina Toothington in The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. Her last live appearance was in 2018, as she played herself in Kaplan’s Korner.
In that same year, Wells took a fall and announced she was having difficulty paying for the rehab she needed. A friend created a GoFundMe page for her and raised $197,000 in a month. “I am amazed at the kindness and affection I have received,” she told Fox News at the time. “I don’t know how this happened. 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.”