Remembering ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Actor Dawn Wells and the Legacy She Hoped to Leave Behind

Dawn Wells, center, on the set of 'Gilligan's Island,' 1966. Wells died on December 30, 2020 from Covid-19 complications.
Dawn Wells, center, on the set of ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ 1966. Wells died on December 30, 2020 from Covid-19 complications. | CBS through Getty Images

Gilligan Island and classic television fans were shocked by the news today of the death of Dawn Wells, the island’s sweetest resident.

Wells, who played “girl next door” Mary Ann Summers, reportedly died of complications from Covid-19.

Here’s what the actor had to say about how she wanted her to be remembered.

Wells’ death was announced today

The actress was best known for her portrayal of Mary Ann on the classic television comedy Gilligan Island.

She played the whole, beautiful resident of the island with Gilligan (Bob Denver), the Captain (Alan Hale, Jr.), Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey (Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer), Ginger (Tina Louise) and Professor (Russell Johnson).

She died today at the age of 82 of reported complications from coronavirus (covid-19) in a supported living facility in California.

With Wells’ death, Tina Louise is the last live member of the show’s show.

The theme song of the show and how it changed thanks to Mary Ann and the Professor

Wells spoke to the American Television Archive in 2008 about the show’s original theme song that left naming her character, as well as the Professor’s song. Initially, they were just “and the rest,” but this was changed to include them, as she explained.

“Ginger was thrown first,” she said. ‘So,’ and the rest! ‘ Her agent agreed that she would be in the fifth position of the bill and left unattended. So, by the time the Professor and Mary Ann were fired, the hands of our representatives were tied, ”said Wells.

“After the first season,” she said, “they changed the title [song] and [show creator] Sherwood Schwartz took credit for it, [Gilligan actor] Bob Denver, and [director] John Rich took credit for it, saying ‘we put the two of you in front,’ but I don’t know who did it, really. ”

Wells dismissed rumors of a rivalry with actress ‘Ginger’

Fans of the show are still arguing over which island girl is better: Ginger or Mary Ann? The remote and sex character made famous by Tina Louise or the sweet down-to-home character of Mary Ann Summers?

As for Wells, there was no conflict between the two actors. For actress Mary Ann, Tina Louise was a generous advisor.

“I learned a lot from Tina,” Wells said. “I learned about camera angles, and about making. I learned a lot. Because I was modern. Tina knew, she knew. She knew what would make her look beautiful, what angles looked good on her. ”

How Wells wanted to be remembered

Dawn Wells in 2019

Wells spoke in 2008 about finding out the show ‘s global reach.

“I was in the Solomon Islands,” she said. “I went up to the Solomon Islands with five women, we were adventurers. No running water, no electricity, a canoe up to those islands where there were never white women.

‘And the chief’ s wife looked at me and said, ‘I know you. ‘I said,’ What? ‘ She said, ‘I went to a nursing school in the Solomon Islands capital and would come home to watch you on television. ‘Isn’t that amazing? ”

Asked how she would like to be remembered, Wells said, well and well into her positive years, “Kindness, good friend, happy, made a difference. ”

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