Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan’s Island," dies at 82 of COVID-19 complications

Dawn Wells, best known for portraying the girl-next-door Kansas castaway Mary Ann Summers on the iconic 1960s CBS sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday of causes related to COVID-19. She was 82. 

“I am devastated today,” publicist, Harlan Boll wrote on Facebook, announcing the star’s death. She died “in no pain” at an assisted living facility in Los Angeles.  

With Wells’ death, Tina Louise is now the only surviving member of the regular cast of the hit show, which starred a group of seven tour-boat passengers stuck on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. The show ran from 1964-1967 and remains popular today, sparking several reunion specials. 

The other cast members included Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, Alan Hale Jr, who played the Skipper, Jim Backus and Natalie Shager, who played wealthy couple Thurston Howell III and Lovey Howell, Russell Johnson, who played Professor Roy Hinkley and Louise, who played a movie star named Ginger. 

Wells was born in Reno, Nevada on October 18, 1938. In 1959, she represented her home state in the Miss America pageant, and in 1960, she graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in theater arts and design. 

She appeared in shows such as “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Hawaiian Eye” before being cast as Mary Ann. According to Boll, she beat out 350 other actresses for the “role of a lifetime.” 

After “Gilligan’s Island,” Wells appeared in countless theater productions, published a cookbook and continued to appear on screen in shows like “Growing Pains,” “Roseanne” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” 

In his statement, Boll said that donations on behalf of Wells’ family can be made to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenessee, the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum or The Shambala Preserve in California. 


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