Beloved actress and former beauty queen Dawn Wells died this week. Wells was adored for taking on the role of the sweet and somewhat naive, girl-next-door Mary Ann Summers on the iconic CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island.
According to her representative, she passed away on Wednesday in California at the age of 82. Her cause of death was related to COVID-19.
Tina Louise, who played the sensual flame-haired Hollywood starlet Ginger Grant with the sultry voice, is the last remaining cast member of the series, and she has decided to pay tribute to Wells.
Louise also took the opportunity to clear up many rumors surrounding the iconic comedy which aired from 1964 to 1967 (amid the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement) and that still continues to warm hearts decades later.
The show centered around a group of castaways aboard the shipwrecked SS Minnow who went for a delightful three-hour tour that turned into a nightmare after they run into a typhoon and are shipwrecked on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Other characters included the gullible yet loveable Gilligan (Bob Denver), the pragmatic Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) along with the annoying millionaire Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) and his wife, Lovey (Natalie Schafer).
There was also the elegant and quick-thinking Professor (Russell Johnson). Talking to the New York Post from New York, Tina Louise said that she has wonderful memories of Dawn Wells and added: “I’m very sad. Dawn was a very wonderful person. I want people to remember her as someone who always had a smile on her face. Nothing is more important than family, and she was family. She will always be remembered.”
She went to explain how she is doing her best to stay healthy.
Tina Louise, who declined to reveal her age, according to research she is 86, explained: “Nobody wants to get that kind of news — especially that way, with this horrible disease. I’m doing my exercise and having a vegetarian lunch today,” she said, adding somberly, “Everything’s complicated now.”
In 1978, Louise shocked many by declining to appear in the TV movie Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, she also refused to reprise her role in the 2001’s Surviving Gilligan’s Island.
It was rumored that she disliked the character — which is why she stayed away from the revivals.
She shared her truth by saying: “Never true — I loved doing my part, especially after they really started writing for my character, originally billed as a ‘Marilyn Monroe’ type of character. A different director took over and really started to write for my character. I really loved my character.”
She addressed the chatter about the cast not getting along by revealing: “There’s a character for every person. Everyone can identify with a different person. We were always a family. She had enormous fans. Dawn was wonderful in her part.”
As for her not getting along with Wells, she said it was not true. She was invited to Wells’s house in 1966 and learned to prepare a potato soufflé, and it has become a holiday tradition for her and her family.
She concluded by: “I had just gotten married, and it was Thanksgiving. I didn’t know how to cook particularly. She invited me to her house with her mom. It became something I did every year at Thanksgiving. I never forgot that.”
The program is truly iconic.