Dawn Wells, who played the sane Mary Ann among a group of castaways on the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died on Wednesday of causes related to COVID-19, said her publicist. She was 82 years old.
Wells died peacefully in a Los Angeles gated community, said publicist Harlan Boll.
“Dawn Wells has so much more to offer” than that Gilligan’s Island Character who brought her fame, Boll said in a statement.
In addition to TV, film, and stage actors, her other real-life roles included teachers and motivational speakers, Boll said.
Tina Louise, 86, who played movie star Ginger, is the last surviving member of a cast that included Bob Denver as the title character. Alan Hale Jr. as skipper; Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as wealthy passengers Thurston and Lovey Howell and Russell Johnson, known as professor.
Wells was born in Reno, Nevada and represented her state in Miss America in 1959 and quickly switched to an acting career. Her early TV roles came in shows like 77 Sunset Strip, loner and Gold mine.
Then came Gilligan’s Island, a goofy, good-natured show that became an improbable but ineradicable part of popular culture.
Wells ‘pretty but innocent Mary Ann complemented Louise’s worldly ginger and both became harmless’ 60s TV versions of sex symbols.
Wells’ closet contained a plaid dress and shorts that modestly covered her belly button. Both costumes were exhibited in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Museum.
This was followed by spin-offs of television films from the series, including 1978 Rescue of Gilligan’s IslandBut Wells also moved on to other guest TV roles and films, including the 2002 vacuum cleaner salesman comedy Super sucker with Jeff Daniels. She played on stage in dozens of plays including Chapter two and The strange couple.
Two years ago, a friend started a GoFundMe campaign to cover Wells medical and other expenses, despite protesting that she didn’t need the help. In the end, she acknowledged her need and accepted donations of more than $ 180,000.
Dawn is survived by her stepsister Weslee Wells.