Dawn Wells, Who Played Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Dies of COVID at 82

Wells died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles of complications related to COVID-19

Dawn Wells
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Dawn Wells, the actress best known for playing Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” has died at the age of 82.

Wells passed away in Los Angeles on Wednesday of complications related to COVID-19, according to a representative for the actress.

A native of Reno, Nev., Wells’ lengthy list of TV credits includes “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “Growing Pains” and “Vegas,” in addition to her role on “Gilligan’s Island” and its various spinoffs and follow-ups. Her film credits include “Winterhawk,” “Super Sucker” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”

Wells got her start in Hollywood after being crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 and representing the state in the Miss America pageant the following year. Her on-screen debut was a guest role in the 1960s ABC series “The Roaring ’20s.”

She landed the career-defining role of Mary Ann in 1964, beating out 350 other actresses for the part. “Gilligan’s Island” ran for 98 episodes and three seasons on CBS, with Wells co-starring alongside Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise and Russell Johnson. Wells, along with the rest of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast sans Louise, returned for a number of spin-off projects after the series’ conclusion, including the animated “Gilligan’s Planet” series and the 1978 made-for-TV movie “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island.”

In 2014, she co-authored the book “What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life” with Steve Stinson.

Wells is survived by her step-sister, Weslee Wells.


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