Gilligan’s Island Star Dawn Wells Dies Aged 82

Dawn Wells, the actress best known for playing Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” has died at the age of 82.

Wells died in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 30, of complications related to COVID-19, according to a spokesman for the actress.

She was crowned Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant and beat out 350 actresses for the role of Mary Ann Summers. She also appeared in more 150 series and several movies during her career as well as on Broadway.

A native of Reno, Nevada, Wells’ lengthy list of TV credits includes “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “Growing Pains” and “Vegas,” in addition to her role on “Gilligan’s Island” and its various spinoffs and follow-ups. Her film credits include “Winterhawk,” “Super Sucker” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”

She also wrote a 2014 memoir, “What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life,” that riffed on her sweet and lovable 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.”

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Tony Winterburn

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