Dawn Wells, Mary Ann From ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Dead at 82
Another classic television star has passed, as Dawn Wells, best known as Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island, died Wednesday (Dec. 30) at the age of 82.
According to Deadline, the actress died in Los Angeles from complications caused by COVID-19.
Wells caught her first break in the entertainment industry after being named Miss Nevada in 1959 and competing in the 1960 Miss America pageant. In 1960, she also graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in theater arts and design. That background would serve her well as she began to audition for roles in Hollywood.
Her early credits included the TV series The Roaring 20s and the film The New Interns. She also landed guest spots on The Joey Bishop Show, Maverick and Bonanza before auditioning for the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, beating out 350 others for the coveted role. Gilligan's Island ran for 98 episodes between 1964-1967 and found a new generation of fans in syndication.
Wells wrote in her autobiography about her most famous role, "Every character on Gilligan's Island was given a broad 'stock' comedy role to fill — captain, mate, wealthy man, wealthy wife, professor, movie star — except me. She was given a name and location — Kansas farm girl. I had to fill in the blanks. So, from the get-go, the Mary Ann character was different. She wasn't a Hollywood creation. She was molded by me, from me."
The success of Gilligan's Island yielded an animated daytime series in the '70s and an '80s spinoff called Gilligan's Planet in the '80s, with Wells reprising her role for both series as well as a trio of reunion films.
Wells remained active in acting over the years appearing in over 150 series and several movies while also adding some Broadway credits as well.
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