Mary Ann From 'Gilligan's Island,' Dawn Wells, Has Died From COVID-19 : NPR
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 4 weeks ago • 23 comments
By: NPR. org
December 30, 20203:28 PM ET
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Actress and TV movie producer Dawn Wells, who became internationally famous as the stranded girl-next-door on the mid-1960s TV sitcom Gilligan's Island , died Wednesday of complications related to the coronavirus. She was 82 years old. Wells' publicist, B. Harlan Boll, announced her death on social media.
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 Well's signature success in Gilligan's Island — which ran on prime time for only three years on CBS, but endlessly for decades in syndication — 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.
But after Gilligan's Island , Wells was always the wholesome Mary Ann. 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." She did not make reference to her own health.