The Tragic Death Of Gilligan's Island Star Dawn Wells

Dawn Wells, best known for playing Mary Ann Summers on the iconic CBS sitcom Gilligan's Island, died Dec. 30, 2020. She was 82. The star's publicist confirmed her death, revealing the actor passed away in Los Angeles of causes related to COVID-19, according to Variety

Other than Tina Louise (who played Ginger), Wells was "the last surviving member" of the original Gilligan's Island cast, a show about seven men and women who get stranded on a deserted island after a violent storm, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I went in and tested with I don't know how many girls," she told Smashing Interviews Magazine in 2019 about landing the breakout role of Mary Ann. There were quite a few. It was the people ... we all grew up together. All the ingénues were auditioning, and I got it. But you would go on so many auditions, and you never knew what you were going to get." After the show came to an end in 1967, Wells reprised her role for multiple Gilligan's Island TV movies, as well as spin-off series titled Gilligan's Planet. She also appeared in other TV series, including 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, and The Joey Bishop Show, per IMDB.

So how did Hollywood react to Wells' death? Keep on reading for the tributes.

Celebrities honor Dawn Wells' legacy

Following Dawn Wells' death, Hollywood quickly shared tributes in her honor on social media to remember the legend that gave us Mary Ann Summers. Celebrities, including Jon Cryer and William Shatner, paid their respects via Twitter. The Two and a Half Men star wrote, "It was such a thrill for me to meet Dawn Wells when she came to see Two and a Half Men. She could not have been more lovely and gracious. I'm so grateful that I got to enjoy the work she loved doing." Shatner added, "Condolences to the family of Dawn Wells. Very sad." Glee star Jane Lynch also tweeted, "Oh, this so sad. Bon voyage, Mary Ann." 

According to The Wrap, Wells beat out "350 other actresses for the part" of the all-American Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. The part became an iconic career-defining role for the actress and one fans will surely never forget.

Fans remember Dawn Wells' big heart

Fellow Hollywood celebrities weren't the only ones who were quick to share their grief over Dawn Wells' death in December 2020. Fans of the former Gilligan's Island star also took to social media to post about their memories of the adored actor. "Sad to hear of the news of Dawn Wells' passing due to [COVID-19] complications. She was truly an icon and a very genuine person IRL. Her cheerful disposition will always be missed," one Twitter user wrote. Another fan who had obviously been fond of Wells tweeted, "So sad. I loved watching Gilligan's Island when I was a kid. She was really fun and kind in her interviews."

Wells' lovely ways were backed up by someone else who had met her more than once and wanted to share their experiences with the star. "Just chatted with her earlier this year," they tweeted. "Reconnected years after meeting in person at a telethon in Vancouver at which I was on a local media panel. She couldn't have been sweeter."

Indeed, many people seemed to agree that Wells "was a positive spirit in the show biz world," as reporter George Pennacchio tweeted, and that was because of more than just appearing as the beloved Mary Ann.

Dawn Wells was more than just Mary Ann

Although Dawn Wells was forever fond of Mary Ann Summers, she didn't want to be boxed in by role. "The first thing you want to do is break that character and go do something else," she admitted to Smashing Interviews Magazine about leaving the role.

Following Wells' time as Mary Ann, she did just that by nabbing other roles on shows like The Love Boat, ALF, Growing Pains, The Bold and the Beautiful, and even Baywatch among others, per IMDb. She also popped up in movies like 1975's Winterhawk, 1976's The Town That Dreaded Sundown, and 2012's Silent But Deadly. Beyond that, Variety noted that she "had a long career on stage" and "appear[ed on] national tours" for many popular plays. Her final gig appears to have been taking on voicework as Gumbalina Toothington in The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants children's series. When Wells wasn't working, she worked on behalf of charities like the Terry Lee Wells Foundation, which "focus[es] on women and children in Northern Nevada," according to Variety. She also "received the Elephant Sanctuary Trumpeting Award for her work with the Elephant Sanctuary." 

Hollywood may have lost a star when Wells passed away, but the world lost a true treasure.