Dawn Wells, who played the beloved girl-next-door Mary Ann Summers on “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles after battling COVID-19. She was 82.
Her publicist, Harlan Boll, announced her death, according to Variety.
A Reno, Nevada, native, Wells was Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant before she was cast in “Gilligan’s Island” in 1964. The Sherwood Schwartz-helmed sitcom ran on CBS until 1967 and included several TV movies and spinoff series.
She also wrote a 2014 memoir, “What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life,” that riffed on her sweet and lovable character. Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on the show, captured the soul of Mary Ann in the foreword of the book.
“We love Mary Ann because she is the future, the hope of our world,” he wrote. “The youngest of the castaways, Mary Ann has her entire life in front of her. Watching her unfailing good cheer, her optimism is never in question. We love her because we need her emotional support and her belief that all will turn out well … We love Mary Ann because of Dawn Wells.”
The cast of “Gilligan’s Island”: Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer and Alan Hale Jr.Courtesy Everett Collection
Tina Louise, who played Ginger, is the last living member of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast. She is 86.
Wells also appeared in “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
In 2018, Wells took a tumble and found herself inundated with medical and tax bills. A friend created a GoFundMe account for the actress, USA Today reported at the time, though she denied being “dead broke.” She ended up getting nearly $200,000 in donations, taking to Facebook to thank fans.
“Where did the time go? I don’t know how this happened,” she wrote. “I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money. I’m grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care, or it would all be too … overwhelming … I am grateful to any of my fans who are willing to offer support.”