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Dawn Wells

Dawn Wells (1938–2020), “Gilligan’s Island” star

by Kirk Fox

Dawn Wells played the down-to-earth farm girl Mary Ann on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.”

  • Died: Wednesday, December 30, 2020 (Who else died on December 30?)
  • Details of death: Died at the age of 82 in Los Angeles from complications related to COVID-19.
  • We invite you to share condolences for Dawn Wells in our Guest Book.

“Gilligan’s Island” star

Dawn Wells was beloved by generations of fans for her role as the farm girl Mary Ann on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.” Mary Ann was a counterpoint to the glamorous Hollywood star Ginger, played by Tina Louise, who is now the last surviving cast member. The silly sitcom about a group of tourists stranded on a desert island was very popular during its original run and for years after in syndication. Wells reprised the role of Mary Ann in the three reunion TV-movies that aired years later. She started out mostly in guest roles on TV shows such as “Bonanza” and appeared on “Alf” and “Roseanne” after “Gilligan’s Island.”

Wells on her Mary Ann character

“Mary Ann wasn’t just a silly and sweet ingenue… She was bright, fair-minded and reasonable, and I like to think that’s what I brought to her. She was a little more of a Goody Two-shoes than I am.” —Wells in her 2014 book, “What Would Mary Ann Do: A Guide to Life”

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Mary Ann compared to Ginger

“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.” —2008 interview with the Television Academy Foundation

Tributes to Dawn Wells

Full Obituary: Hollywood Reporter

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