Dawn Wells, who played Kansas-born farm girl Mary Ann Summers on the classic TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died on Wednesday of complications related to COVID-19. She was 82.
Prior to her three-season existence as one of Gilligan’s hapless castaways, Wells guested on numerous TV series including Maverick, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip and Hawaiian Eye.
Gilligan’s Island premiered on CBS in September 1964, and ran through April 1967. Wells also appeared in the follow-up TV-movies Rescue from Gilligan’s Island (1978) and The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island (1979), the latter of which saw Gilligan & Co. get re-stranded on the same island, get rescued, and then turn the isle into a vacation destination.
As noted in TVLine’s guide to the Best TV Theme Songs of the 1950s/1960s, “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” (written by series creator Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle) underwent a slight yet meaningful tweak after Season 1, when series lead Bob Denver (who passed away in 2005) insisted that the lyrics replace the dismissive “…and the rest” with “…the Professor and Mary Ann,” so as to give proper billing to the characters played by Russell Johnson and Wells.
Following her assorted island misadventures, Wells guested on series such as Bonanza, Vega$, a special Roseanne episode that paid tribute to Sherwood Schwartz, and The Bold and the Beautiful.