Who doesn’t know the Mary Ann Summers from Gilligan’s Island? Dawn Elberta Wells/Dawn Wells the famous American actress who played Mary Summers tragically passed away in December 2020.
Summers was diagnosed with Covid-19. The 82-year-old couldn’t make a recovery and her case continued to deteriorate. Shortly afterward Dawn Wells died in California on 30 December 2020.
To pay tribute to her amazing acting skills, the MeTV network premiered the most memorable episodes of Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island. The 3-hour marathon is anticipated by millions of people around the world.
The Weigel Broadcasting Vice Chairman, Neal Sabin was all praises for the late actress and expressed his grief over losing her to the coronavirus pandemic. “We will miss her, but her work on Gilligan’s Island will live forever,” said Neal in his statement.
Interestingly after the 3-hour marathon has already spiked the google searches for “Dawn Wells”. Wells has been trending on the internet for a while now.
Although the spike in google searches could easily be attributed to her sad demise, something tells us it’s more about the hype created by the 3-hour marathon. “The best of Mary Ann episodes” is all set to air this Sunday (10th of January 2021) from 2 pm to 5 pm (ET).
In her remembrance, we have rounded up 9 facts about the Gilligan’s Island star that you should definitely know about!
- Her Wardrobe Was Censored on Gilligan’s Island
Although Gilligan’s Island was a popular show in its time, the wardrobe was still kept modest. Speaking with PEOPLE back in 2018, Dawn revealed that there was a whole lot of planning before her outfits. Her outfits had to be fashionable yet there were certain limits (read: many limits) to what she could wear.
“Even back then, sex sells,” Dawn told PEOPLE. In a scene from Gilligan’s Island, she was supposed to bear her incredibly toned midriff to the camera. In order to achieve that, she tied her gingham shirt into a knot.
However, that meant that her belly button was visible, which was apparently scandalous back then. Wells revealed, “my shorts were pulled up to cover my navel.”
For someone with such a toned stomach, it was a shame Dawn Wells had to cover it. It’s a good thing we can now wear whatever we want.
2. She worked as a Producer
Yep, that’s right. Dawn Wells was not just a phenomenal actress, she was a producer too.
She co-produced Surviving Gilligan’s Island,” which was one of the highest-rated Movie of the Week by CBS. Dawn also starred in that movie. It seems that she was quite the multi-tasker. Apart from Gilligan’s Island, Dawn also was also co-executive producer of Return to the Batcave. The movie was another featured movie from CBS “Movie of the Week. Shot in the 60s, the movie was based on the Batman TV series
3. Dawn Wells was an author too
You would think that being an actor, producer and human rights activist would have been a lot to juggle, but Dawn Wells took the time to write a book too.
She published two books with titles including her most popular character, Mary Ann. Her book “Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook” was not your average cookbook. It was loaded with entertaining snippets from Dawn’s life as well as nostalgic photography from her life as Mary Ann.
In 2014, Dawn published another book “What Would Mary Ann Do? A guide to Life”. The book much like its title expresses the tale of a beloved character from Gilligan’s Island that still somehow seems to resonate with people.
The autobiography follows the life of Dawn Wells and reveals some of the most surprising aspects of her life including her struggle to be cast as Mary Ann. Dawn revealed that she had to beat 350 other girls in the audition to win the role.
The book has a bit of everything: inspiration, humor, struggle, and a healthy bit of nostalgia. If you ever feel like you are stuck in the wrong generation, do give this book a try. It contains all the necessary life lessons for people who still prefer the old school, simpler times
4. There is a book about Dawn Wells by author Janet Harvey
If there is anything cooler than an autobiography, it is a biography. It just shows how much people wanted to know about you. How someone cared enough to write a book based on your life.
Although the idea shouldn’t be surprising considering how Mary Ann was a beloved character. In fact, Gilligan’s Island was so popular that it continued to dominate television for many years to come.
Janet Harvey’s book Dawn Wells 49 Success Facts – Everything you need to know about Dawn Wells is still a beloved read for many.
The E-book is available on many websites online and we are fairly certain that you could find it in leading bookstores in your area too. The book contains all the details of Dawn’s acting career including her role in Gilligan’s Island
5. She initially planned to go to medical school.
Although it is somewhat a well-known fact that Dawn Wells participated in the Miss America beauty pageant in 1960, there is another surprising fact about Dawn Wells: she initially wanted to be a ballerina. And then, a little more seriously, she wanted to be a doctor.
She even enrolled in the elite Stephens College in Columbia for a career in medicine. However, after attending the prestigious institution, she soon discovered the drama club which sparked her interest. Later she transferred to the University of Washington to pursue their much sought-after degree in theater.
6. Ginger or Mary Ann? Dawn Wells has played both!
Probably the most popular question related to any TV show back in the 60s was: Ginger or Mary Ann?
How about both for Dawn Wells?
When Tina Louise did not resume her role of Ginger in Gilligan’s Planet, Mary Ann voiced both characters in the animated series.
The animated series was released in the 1980s and contained the voice talents of all the actors from Gilligan’s Island except for Tina Louise, which as we have mentioned before was replaced by Dawn Wells.
Although the characters were antagonistic, Dawn did a wonderful job with the voiceovers, giving each character a distinct personality, even in the animated series.
7. She is the creator of Wishing Wells Collection- a clothing line.
Apart from her celebrity status, Dawn Wells has a special place in her heart for her efforts for the differently-abled. She launched her own clothing line, “Wishing Wells Collection”.
The collection featured clothing for people with limited mobility with easy velcro closures for easy wear. This was a significant step in normalizing the differently-abled and helping them adjust to a new lifestyle.
In addition to this, Dawn also helped Denver Foundation’s Christmas Wish Celebrity Auction in arranging funds for the disadvantaged and disabled in West Virginia.
She was one of the limited celebrities to appear and her appearance helped the auction achieve their target significantly
8. She admitted that there were a lot of clothing restrictions on Gilligan’s Island
As we have mentioned before, Gilligan’s Island was one of the most beloved TV shows of all time. The goofy characters were funny yet somehow relatable even to this day.
However, it is safe to conclude that the 70s wasn’t the easiest time when it came to freedom of dressing. Dawn Wells revealed that there was a lot of pressure for the dressing to be kept modest, yet somehow still fashionable to draw an audience.
Dawn revealed to PEOPLE that “the censors would come to filmings to ensure that the wardrobes were decent.”
However, there were some double standards by the censors too. “there were these men — the censors were all men at the time — and they were looking at my torso!” Dawn shared with a laugh.
9. Dawn kept some of her clothes from the show as souvenirs
Being the most memorable aspect of her life, Dawn remembered Gilligan’s Island very fondly. She stated that people often misunderstood the show and dismissed it as slapstick comedy when it was so much about diversity. Seven people from different parts of the world joined by the same circumstances but creating the best of it.
When the show was canceled, Dawn was allowed to keep some souvenirs to remember her time on the show. Of course, she chose some of her outfits from the show which she eventually outgrew. She remarked that Barbara Eden could still fit in her clothes, but not Dawn.
Here was our list of top 9 facts you didn’t knew about the star. Which fact you found most astounding, let us know in the comments section.