LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) – Dawn Wells, an American actor and beauty queen best known for her portrayal of the winsome Mary Ann Summers on the CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died on December 30th. She was 82.
Wells passing was announced by her publicist who told the Hollywood Reporter that she died in Los Angeles from complications of COVID-19.
A native of Reno, Nevada, Wells attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in chemistry, but later transferred to University of Washington in Seattle, where she graduated with a degree in theater design.
In 1960, after she was named Miss Nevada, she represented her state in the Miss America Pageant but was bested by Ann Penelope Marston of Michigan.
She made her television debut in 1961 with a small part in the short-lived ABC television series The Roaring 20s, and leading to numerous small roles on other television series of the era.
In 1964, she landed what would become her signature role when she was cast as the Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island.
In the series, Wells was one of a group of misfit castaways trapped on a previously unknown Pacific island and served as the down-to-earth ‘girl next door’ foil to her roommate Ginger, a glamorous film star portrayed by Tina Louise.
Despite long-standing rumors that Wells was the only actor from Gilligan’s Island to receive residuals from the successful syndication of the show, she says that was untrue, and told the International Business Times in 2014 that she was paid $750 a week for her tenure on the series.
In addition to her work in television, Wells was also appeared in numerous small roles on the silver screen, starting in 1963 with Palm Springs Weekend, as well as The New Interns (1964) and Return to Boggy Creek (1977).
After Gilligan’s Island came to an end, Wells turned her attention to theater and toured extensively with productions such as Neil Simon’s Chapter Two and They’re Playing Our Song.
For several years, Wells operated a business, Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility, and contributed her time to the Denver Foundation, named for her Gilligan’s Island co-star Bob Denver.
Wells married Larry Rosen, a talent agent, in 1962, but the couple parted ways 5 years later.