Actress Dawn Wells, still best remembered for her character Mary Ann Summers on the iconic sitcom Gilligan’s Island, passed away on December 30, 2020. The 82-year-old actress passed from complications from coronavirus. Let’s remember her by taking a look back at her incredible life…
Dawn Wells: One Of Hollywood’s Great
Of course, nearly everyone remembers Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island. On the sitcom, the actress played Mary Ann Summers, a wholesome farm-girl from Kansas, appearing in almost all of the show’s hilarious 98 episodes. Like the show, Wells became an icon, starring in more than 150 TV shows and seven motion pictures! However, while you might think that she was some fancy millionaire, that’s not the case! “A misconception is that we must be wealthy, rolling in the dough, because we got residuals. We didn’t really get a dime,” Wells said. “I think my salary – of course, I was low on the totem pole, Ginger (Tina Louise) and Thurston (Jim Backus) got more – was $750 a week.”
Meanwhile, many do not know that Wells had many other talents as well. In her free time, she also published two books, gave motivational speeches, and even taught acting. A truly inspiring woman, Wells also gave back to the world, helping run the Terry Lee Wells Foundation, which helps underprivileged women and children in Nevada. She even helped animals! In 1995, Wells became an activist for The Elephant Sanctuary, one of the world’s largest elephant sanctuaries. Through it all, Wells always stayed connected to Hollywood. For a short while, the actress worked as a correspondent for Channel 9 in Sydney, Australia. There, she interviewed incredible stars like Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Julia Roberts, Ron Howard, and Richard Donner. In these interviews, she bonded with them, celebrity to celebrity.
At the end of the day, Dawn Wells’ career always came back to Gilligan’s Island. Thankfully, the actress never minded. She loved the role of Mary Ann, loved the show, and loved the fans. So, it should come as no surprise that actress Tina Louise, who portrayed Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island first commented on Wells’ passing. Sadly, Louise now remains the only member of the main cast still alive. “I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me. We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time,” she stated. “I want people to remember her as someone who always had a smile on her face. Nothing is more important than family and she was family. She will always be remembered.”
There were no services for the late star. Instead of flowers, the Wells’ representatives and family ask fans to donate to one of the actress’s supported organizations: The Elephant Sanctuary, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, or The Shambala Preserve. Rest in peace, Dawn Wells.