Dawn Wells, best knows for playing the girl-next-door castaway Mary Ann on the iconic TV comedy series Gilligan’s Island, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles from complications due to Covid-19. She was 82.
Wells, who was Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant, beat out 350 actresses for the role of Mary Ann. She appeared in more than 150 series and several movies during her career as well as on Broadway.
“There hasn’t been a Mary Ann on the air for I don’t know how long,” she told the TV Academy Foundation in a 2008 sit-down for “The Interviews” video series. “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.”
Despite its longevity in syndication, Gilligan’s Island was only a moderate hit for CBS during its initial three-year run from 1964-67, airing on a different night and time each season. It premiered on Saturdays in September 1964 following The Jackie Gleason Show and finished tied for 18th in the three-network final season ratings.
Wells is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells. No services are scheduled at this time.