Wells as Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island in 1964
|Born||Dawn Elberta Wells
October 18, 1938
Reno, Nevada, U.S.
|Occupation||Film and television actress|
|Spouse(s)||Larry Rosen (1962-1967; divorced)|
Dawn Elberta Wells (born October 18, 1938) is an American actress who is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on the classic CBS sitcom Gilligan's Island. She and Tina Louise are the last surviving cast members from that series, not counting the three original actors for The Professor, Ginger and Mary Ann in the unaired pilot.
Wells was born in Reno, Nevada, where she attended Reno High School. She later attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in chemistry. She transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle, where she graduated in 1960 with a degree in theater arts and design. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
In Hollywood, Wells made her debut on ABC's The Roaring 20s and was cast in episodes of such television series as 77 Sunset Strip, The Cheyenne Show, Maverick, and Bonanza, before she took the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. She reprised her character in the various Gilligan's Island reunion specials, including a reunion cartoon spin-off, Gilligan's Planet, and three reunion movies, Rescue from Gilligan's Island, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island.
She also appeared as a guest star on Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, 87th Precinct, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, Ripcord, The Everglades, The Detectives (1959 TV series), It's a Man's World, Laramie, Burke's Law, The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, The F.B.I., Vega$, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, ALF, Herman's Head, Three Sisters, Pastor Greg, and Roseanne.
Wells had small roles in the early 1960s films Palm Springs Weekend and The New Interns, and later starred with Michael Dante in the independent 1975 film, Winterhawk, playing a Western settler kidnapped by a Native American chief. Other films include The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Return to Boggy Creek, Lover's Knot, Soulmates, Forever For Now, and Super Sucker. In the fall of 2011, she began filming Hotel Arthritis, a comedy horror film released in 2012.
Following Gilligan's Island, Wells embarked on a successful theater career, appearing in nearly one hundred theatrical productions as of July 2009. She spent the majority of the 1970s and 1980s touring in musical theatre productions. She also had a one-woman show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1985.
In 1993, Wells published Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook with co-writers Ken Beck and Jim Clark, including a foreword by Bob Denver.
In 2013, Wells also made a number of personal appearances involving food and beverage including one with whiskey personality Tom Fischer at the Kentucky State BBQ Festival in Danville, Kentucky. During her appearance, Wells referred to her forthcoming book, Mary Ann's Good Girls Guide to Life. The book was released in September 2014 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Gilligan's Island.
In 2015, Wells did commercial and hosting spots for "The Summer of Me," on classic TV show network Me-TV.
Wells was close to Alan Hale Jr., who played The Skipper in Gilligan's Island, even after the series completed its run. Before his death, Hale contributed a family recipe ("Kansas Chicken and Dumplings") to her 1993 cookbook, Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook. Hale, whose character was the inspiration behind such included concoctions as, 'Skipper's Coconut Pie,' 'Skipper's Navy Bean Soup,' and 'Skipper's Goodbye Ribeye,' can be seen depicted as Skipper Jonas Grumby, in numerous photographs throughout the book. She said in a 2014 interview with GoErie.com, about her memory with him, "Alan could not have been kinder to a young actress. He was a real peach." When he died in January 1990, she was the only cast member to attend his memorial.
She married Larry Rosen, a talent agent, in 1962. The couple had no children and were divorced in 1967.
In Idaho, Wells runs a successful business, Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility. She is the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute, a not-for-profit (501c3) educational organization with "a vision of education, technical training and economic development in Southeastern Idaho." She organized SpudFest, a regional annual family movie festival, and has been a spokeswoman for Idaho Potatoes.
Wells continues to lend her support to the Denver Foundation, a charity chaired by Dreama Denver, widow of Wells' Gilligan’s Island co-star Bob Denver. In November 2009, she appeared at the Denver Foundation's Christmas Wish Celebrity Auction, helping to raise funds for the disabled and disadvantaged in West Virginia.
Reckless driving incident
While driving home from her birthday party celebration on October 18, 2007, Wells was observed swerving across the roadway, was found in possession of marijuana and was arrested by Idaho police. A third party, who had been in possession of Wells' car that day and had left the joints behind, came forward and claimed full responsibility for the marijuana. Wells pled guilty to one count of reckless driving, was fined and served six months' unsupervised probation.
In a statement, Wells admitted swerving, saying she was reaching for her car heater controls. Wells lost a speaking engagement because of the incident. After the fact, she made light of the situation, saying "I think it is so hysterical that people went nuts over it. I am what, now, 102 years old? I get booked for the first time in my life and suddenly I am a drug-using bum? I have told people the facts, but facts don't interest people or the media. They only trust headlines. The only reason I even cared was because it negatively affected my film festival and film school, and my sponsors were concerned. If I did not own a not-for-profit school, I would be on Saturday Night Live making fun of it!"
Partial TV and filmography
- 1961: The Everglades ‒ played Piney
- 1961: The Cheyenne Show ‒ "Lone Patrol" ‒ played Sarah Claypool
- 1961: Maverick ‒ "The Deadly Image" ‒ played Caprice Rambeau
- 1962: Bonanza ‒ "The Way Station" ‒ played Marty Johnson
- 1962: It's a Man's World ‒ "The Bravest Man in Cordella" and "Chicago Gains a Number" ‒ played Molly
- 1963: Palm Springs Weekend
- 1964: The New Interns
- 1964: The Joey Bishop Show - "Joey and Roberta Sherwood Play a Benefit" - played Marylin, Larry's (Corbett Monica) date
- 1964-1967: Gilligan's Island
- 1967: The Invaders - "Dark Outpost"
- 1968: Bonanza ‒ "The Burning Sky" ‒ played Moon Holt
- 1975: Winterhawk
- 1976: The Town That Dreaded Sundown
- 1977: Return to Boggy Creek
- 1978: Rescue from Gilligan's Island
- 1979: The Castaways on Gilligan's Island
- 1981: "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island"
- 1982-1983: Gilligan's Planet ‒ performed the voices of Mary Ann and Ginger
- 1983: High School U.S.A.
- 1987: ALF ‒ "Somewhere Over the Rerun" ‒ played Mary Ann
- 1989: The Princess and the Dwarf
- 1992: Soulmates
- 1994: Space Ghost Coast to Coast ‒ one episode ‒ played herself
- 1996: Lover's Knot
- 2000: The Man Show ‒ episode 206, played herself
- 2001: Surviving Gilligan's Island ‒ made-for-television movie ‒ played herself
- 2002: Super Sucker
- 2004: Forever for Now
- 2005: Cyber Meltdown
- 2005: Girlfriends as herself
- 2012: Hotel Arthritis
- Potempa, Phillip. "FROM the FARM: Leftover turkey perfect for 'Gilligan's Island' casserole". nwi.com. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- Goldberg, Delen (January 12, 2012). "10 past Nevada pageant winners who have gained notoriety". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
- "Dawn Wells at KY State BBQ Festival;". BourbonBlog.com. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- "Dawn Wells Interview;". BourbonBlog.com. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- "The world according to Dawn Wells, a.k.a. 'Gilligan Island's' Mary Ann". Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Dawn Wells Interview". gilligansisle.com. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
- Wells, Dawn (2006). "Wishing Wells Collections". dawn-wells.com. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
- "Idaho Film and Television Institute". idahofilminstitute.org. Archived from the original on April 6, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
- "Peeling Idaho Potatoes". idahopotato.com. Idaho Potato Commission. 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
- "Bob Denver website". bobdenver.com. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
- "Mary Ann--More Like Mary Jane!!". TMZ. Time Warner. 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "Mary Ann of 'Gilligan's Island' Caught With Marijuana in Car". Fox News. Fox Entertainment Group. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "It Wasn't Mary Ann's Mary Jane!". TMZ. Time Warner. 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- ""Gilligan's Island" Good Girl In Hot Water". CBS News. March 11, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- "Statement of Facts from Dawn". Dawn Wells. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- "'Gilligan's Island' star Dawn Wells won't be Girl Scouts speaker after arrest". Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group. March 14, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 202. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9.
- Official website
- Dawn Wells at the Internet Movie Database
- Dawn Wells at AllMovie
- Dawn Wells interview video at the Archive of American Television