Slideshow: In Memoriam Dawn Wells, Mary Ann of ‘Gilligan’s Island’

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Dawn Wells in a 2017 salute to her Gilligan’s Island past.

CHICAGO – To top off the end of 2020, it was announced on December 30th that Dawn Wells, best known for the girl-next-door role she had as Mary Ann on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” had passed away due to COVID complications. She was 82. Dawn Wells was also a friend of, and had posed for the camera of photographer Joe Arce on several occasions.

Wells was born in Nevada, and eventually represented that state in the Miss America pageant in 1960. She moved to Los Angeles from there and made her TV debut on ABC-TV’s “The Roaring 20s” (1960-61). After several TV guest roles, she landed the part of Mary Ann for “Gilligan’s Island” in 1964. The show – about a group of seven stranded castaways on a tropical island – ran for three seasons on CBS-TV, and then in perpetuity through rerun syndication.

Post Gilligan, she continued to appear in TV and film roles – most notably in the cult classic “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” (1976) – and a series of Gilligan reunion TV movies in the 1970s. She never shied away from her Mary Ann persona, and even reveled in the eternal question of “Mary Ann versus Ginger” (on Gilligan’s Island, Ginger was the sexy movie star) as a barometer for female personalities.

Photographer Joe Arce shot photos of Dawn Wells in 2010, 2017 and 2019 at the “Hollywood Show” autograph and memorabilia convention. Click “Next” and “Previous” to scan through the slideshow or jump directly to individual photos with the captioned links below. All photos © Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for, except fourth photo CBS-TV.

  1. DAWNW1: Dawn Wells in a 2017 salute to her Gilligan’s Island past.
  2. DAWNW2: Dawn Wells at the 2017 Hollywood Show.
  3. DAWNW3: Dawn Wells, Chicago, 2010.
  4. DAWNW4: Dawn Wells on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ in a 1964 publicity picture (CBS-TV).
  5. DAWNW5: Mary Ann or Ginger? Wells with adult film star Ginger Lynn Allen, 2010.
  6. DAWNW6: Dawn Wells, Shirley Jones and Loretta Swit in Chicago, 2019.

Click on PAGE TWO for a 2010 Dawn Wells interview with Patrick McDonald of

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