Fan-favorite actress Dawn Wells, known for portraying Mary Ann on the iconic TV series Gilligan’s Island, died Wednesday due to complications from COVID-19, TMZ reported.
She was 82.
A beloved character
According to TMZ, the show about the group of passengers and the crew of a tour boat that shipwrecked on a deserted island aired for only three seasons, from 1964 to 1967, but became exceptionally popular later on in syndication.
Wells’ character in Gilligan’s Island was the stereotypically sweet girl-next-door, particularly in comparison to the program’s other major female lead, Ginger, a “sultry movie star” played by Tina Louise, according to TMZ.
TMZ reports that Louise “is now the sole surviving cast member.”
“I carried your picture”
Though best known for Gilligan’s Island, Wells also starred in more than 150 other TV series, movies, and broadway shows over the course of her acting career, according to Deadline.
She got her start in beauty pageants and was crowned Miss Nevada as part of the 1959 Miss America contest, TMZ reported. In addition to acting, Wells was also an author, a motivational speaker, and a teacher who helped young actors and actresses get their start in the film and TV industry.
Of her character in Gilligan‘s Island, Well said in 2017 that Mary Ann “pitched in and helped, never complained about anything and helped cook and clean,” according to Fox News.
“She was concerned about the other people on the island. No jealousy with Ginger…and she’s very in tune with Gilligan and his mistakes. I think she represents the core of what’s good,” Wells added before turning to the fans.
“I’ve had soldiers tell me, ‘I carried your picture in my helmet.’ I had families say, ‘The only way we ever got along was when we were watching your show.’ It had an impact that was far more than just 30 minutes,” she said, according to Fox.
A legend lost
According to TMZ, Wells was married to TV producer Larry Rosen for a brief five years before they divorced. She never remarried nor did she have any children, according to reports.
The star is survived by her stepsister Weslee Wells, according to Fox.