Dawn Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday of causes related to COVID-19, her publicist said. She was 82.
Dawn Wells died peacefully at a living facility in Los Angeles, publicist Harlan Boll said.
“There is so much more to Dawn Wells” than the “Gilligan’s Island” character that brought her fame, Boll said in a statement.
Besides TV, film and stage acting credits, her other real-life roles included teacher and motivational speaker, Boll said. She was also a humanitarian and author.
Born in Reno, Nevada, Wells represented her state in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. She appeared on more than 150 TV shows, including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick” and “Bonanza.”
Then came “Gilligan’s Island,” a goofy, good-natured show that became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture.
Dawn Wells considered the character of Mary Ann to be timeless, and she may be right. “Gilligan’s Island” debuted in 1964, and it’s been on the air ever since. She said she loved playing Mary Ann.
“You’re loved. Mary Ann was loved. She would have been your best friend, she would have been your sister, she would have been your bride, and I think that’s quite a character to portray,” Wells said in a September 2019 interview.