(LOS ANGELES) — Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers on the campy classic TV show Gilligan’s Island, has died from COVID-19, ABC News has confirmed.
Her rep noted the actress, motivational speaker and philanthropist “passed peacefully [Wednesday] morning, in no pain as a result of complications due to Covid at the age of 82.”
The brunette actress was the wholesome, “girl next door” castaway counterpart to Tina Louise’s Marilyn Monroe-clone movie star Ginger Grant on the series, which ran from 1964-1967 on CBS.
In a statement, Louise, now the only living Gilligan’s Island cast member, said, “I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me. We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time. I hope that people will remember her the way that I do – always with a smile on her face.”
Wells, a former Miss Nevada, made many stage and screen appearances after her pageant days, but it was her stint on the famously popular show — which saw seven castaways stranded on a deserted island after a three-hour boat tour gone awry — that cemented her pop culture status.
In fact, Wells’ rep noted in a statement, “Dawn’s gingham dress and famous belly button covering shorts worn on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ are currently on display in the lobby of The Hollywood Museum.”
Wells remained close with the character and its legacy. A constant at autograph signings at pop culture conventions, she published a self-help book in 2014 called What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life.
In it, Wells noted, “It’s not my ego talking, but Mary Ann wasn’t just a silly and sweet ingenue. She was bright, fair-minded and reasonable.”
She added, “Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s producer and creator, was smart enough to put her in short shorts so you wouldn’t think of her as your bossy sister.”
By Stephen Iervolino
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