Dawn Wells' Net Worth: The Gilligan's Island Star Had Less Money Than You Think

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Gilligan's Island star Dawn Wells passed away on Dec. 30, 2020, due to COVID-19 complications. She was 82. Wells became known as the girl next door after playing the goody-goody character of Mary Ann on the hit '60's sitcom. She was the last remaining original star of the show, per The New York Times.

Wells had an impressive list of TV gigs on her résumé aside from Gilligan's Island, including roles on 77 Sunset Strip, Growing Pains and Bonanza, plus parts in movies like Winterhawk, Super Sucker and The Town that Dreaded Sundown. However, it was Gilligan's Island that she was most famous for, and while actors often attempt to move away from their identity-defining roles, Wells had no problem being associated with her character and signed up for the three made-for-TV spinoffs that followed the show's run, which ended in 1967. "The core of Mary Ann is really me. I mean, I built her from scratch ... if you play a character long enough on stage or screen, I think your true self shows through," she said in her book What Would Mary Ann Do? (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

While Gilligan's Island gave Dawn Wells a lifetime of fans and happy memories, what it didn't give her is a lifetime of financial stability. While she was once a household name at the top of Hollywood, the Gilligan's Island star had less money than you think.

Dawn Wells may have died in debt if it weren't for her fans

Hollywood just didn't pay like it does now for its leading men and women when Dawn Wells was in her heyday. The public discovered that when Wells was hit with some bad luck and financial troubles that led to a concerned friend creating a GoFundMe page for the former star. According to the page, created by Well's longtime hairdresser in 2018, Wells lost her life's savings during the 2008 economic crash and was further burdened by a horrific accident that caused hospitalization and months of recovery, plus huge medical bills, per USA Today.

The campaign ultimately raised $205,000, which both shocked Wells and left her feeling super grateful. In an interview with Inside Edition at the time, she admitted that, aft first, she was reluctant to accept any donations. "I am not dead broke," Wells told the show. "I can get a job and go to work. ... I didn't ask him to do that." However, she later thanked fans in a post on her Facebook page, saying she was "amazed at the kindness and affection" she received. "Here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money. Im [sic] grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care," she continued. 

After all her financial woes, Celebrity Net Worth reported that the actress was worth just $50,000 at the time of her death. Per The Hollywood Reporter, donations in Wells' name "can be made to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum or The Shambala Preserve outside Los Angeles."