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GILLIGAN'S ISLAND Star Dawn Wells Dies at 82

There is so much more to Dawn Wells than Mary Ann of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND.

GILLIGAN'S ISLAND Star Dawn Wells Dies at 82

America's favorite castaway, Dawn Wells, passed peacefully this morning, in no pain as a result of complications due to Covid at the age of 82.

There is so much more to Dawn Wells than Mary Ann of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (the longest running sitcom still showing worldwide in over 30 languages!).

A native of Reno, Ms. Wells represented Nevada in the MISS AMERICA pageant in 1959. She found success in Hollywood immediately afterward, appearing in such shows as 77 SUNSET STRIP, MAVERICK, BONANZA, THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW and HAWAIIAN EYE. She was later cast in the role of a lifetime as Mary Ann in GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, beating out 350 other actresses.

Dawn was an actress, producer, author, journalist, motivational speaker, teacher, humanitarian, spokesperson, and chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation -- focusing on women and children in Northern Nevada and ran her Film Actors Boot Camp for 7 years in Idaho.

She has starred in over 150 TV shows, and 7 motion pictures, and has starred in 60+ theatrical productions across the country and on The Great White Way.

Dawn appeared and starred in TV shows, including WILD WILD WEST, THE F.B.I., VEGA$, GROWING PAINS, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and BAYWATCH (as Mary Ann Summers). Most recently Dawn starred in her award winning role of Annie Hughes in the webseries LIFE INTERRUPTED and the web series shorts SHE'S STILL ON THAT FREAKING ISLAND with Terry Ray, as well as THE VOICE of Gumbalina Toothington in animated series THE EPIC TALES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS.

Dawn appeared in 7 motion pictures, including WINTERHAWK (which she also narrated), THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (with Andrew Prine), SUPER SUCKER (with Jeff Daniels), THE NEW INTERNS, IT'S OUR TIME, and SILENT BUT DEADLY.

She has starred in 60+ theatrical productions from Noel Coward to Neil Simon, as well as the National Tours of CHAPTER TWO and THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG. Favorite productions include FATAL ATTRACTION with Ken Howard, THE ODD COUPLE with Marcia Wallace, THE ALLERGIST'S WIFE, STEEL MAGNOLIAS (Ouiser), THE WOMEN, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES and on tour as Gingy in LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE (by Nora and Delia Ephron).

She was the "castaway correspondent" for Channel 9 (Sydney, Australia) interviewing such actors and directors as Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Julia Roberts, Rene Russo, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, and Richard Donner and presented Sandra Bullock with a Coconut Cream Pie, as the two women both knew what it's like to be stranded, for the premiere of GRAVITY.

As a producer, she brought two Movies of the Week to CBS: SURVIVING GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, and RETURN TO THE BAT CAVE, with Adam West. In addition, DAWN WELLS REEL ADVENTURES, shot in late 90's, had just been picked up by Amazon Prime as well as executive producing AMERICAN CHRISTMAS in 2019. Dawn has been seen regularly as a spokes woman on the MeTV network, which is re-airing "Gilligan's Island," and recently recorded MeTV Promos for their Saturday Morning lineup.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the unexpected hit series "Gilligan's Island." Dawn released "A Guide To Life: What Would Mary Ann Do?" through Taylor Trade Publishing and Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. Dawn wrote about the meaning of the Mary Ann character and observes the cultural shifts that have occurred since she was on the island. From the get-go, the Mary Ann character was different. She wasn't a Hollywood creation. She was molded by Dawn, from Dawn. The Character that was originally listed as "And the rest" on the credits became the fan favorite, garnering more fan mail that even the title character.

With over 540,000 fans on her FaceBook page and fan clubs across the U.S., her following has remained faithful. Dawn would say that Mary Ann fits today just as she fit three generations ago, because she is timeless. In a world where the industry and society has been celebrating their "Bad girls," Mary Ann continues to be, for many, the breathe of fresh air as the "Good Girl."

Dawn's gingham dress and famous belly button covering shorts worn on "Gilligan's Island" are currently on dipslay in the lobby of The Hollywood Museum.

Dawn received the Elephant Sanctuary Trumpeting Award for her efforts to support The Elephant Sanctuary, founded in 1995 and is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for African and Asian elephants.

Dawn is survived by her step sister, Weslee Wells. No services are scheduled at this time and in lieu of flowers, donations are requested to either The Elephant Sanctuary ( in Hohenwald TN, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum ( or The Shambala Preserve ( in CA.

Photo Credit: Dawn Wells Archives

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