Some very sad news is coming in today as veteran actress Dawn Wells has reportedly passed away. Wells, best known for playing the castaway Mary Ann on the classic comedy series Gilligan's Island, died on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles due to complications from Covid-19. She was 82 years old.
Dawn Elberta Wells was born on Oct. 18, 1938, in Reno, Nevada. Destined for success, she was crowned Miss Nevada in the Miss America 1960 pageant in 1959. The following year, she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in theater arts and design before setting out for Hollywood to embark on what would become a successful acting career.
By 1961, Wells was appearing on television shows like Wagon Train, Maverick, and 77 Sunset Strip. Just a few years later, she snagged a main role as Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, a role that she picked up after beating out 350 other actresses. Wells would reprise the role in various Gilligan's Island reunion specials along with the animated series spin-off and three reunion movies.
In the '70s, Wells appeared in the Western Winterhawk and the classic horror movies The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Return to Boggy Creek. In the ensuing decades, she would make special appearances on popular TV shows like Growing Pains, ALF, Baywatch, and Roseanne. Wells also appeared on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful in 2016, and her final role was as the voice of Gumbalina Toothington in the animated Netflix series The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants.
Along with her acting career, Wells is known for her charity work. For a period of several years, she made clothing for people with limited mobility through her business Wishing Wells Collections. She also supported the Denver Foundation, another charity launched by Bob Denver's widow, by personally appearing at the organization's Christmas Wish Celebrity Auction to help raise funds for the disabled and disadvantaged in West Virginia.
Wells was married once in her life, to wedding talent agent Larry Rosen in 1962. The couple divorced in 1967 without having any children, and in a 2016 interview with Forbes, Wells expressed that not having kids was her biggest regret, though she says she didn't regret much else.
"We all make mistakes," Wells said at the time. "And then we climb the next mountain and go on. There's no such thing as the perfect life. I come from a divorced home, but both my parents liked each other. I was born and raised in Reno, NV - prostitution, divorce, gambling - but I was Ms. Nevada. I have a well-rounded life. I travel a lot. I like giving back. I'm a good friend."
Wells is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells, and our thoughts go out to Weslee and everyone else mourning the late TV star's passing. At this time, no memorial services are scheduled for the actress. In any case, as a legend of the screen, Wells will always be remembered for the legacy she left behind, never to be forgotten. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from Deadline.