The word "cute" is always used with actress Dawn Wells, who played the role of sweet lil' Mary Ann on the
60's sit-com Gilligan's Island. However, I think all the fellas' will agree with me in saying that Dawn
was beyond cute, baby was straight "FINE." I mean, come on, this was a former beauty queen (Dawn was Miss Nevada
of 1959). While her Mary Ann character wasn't written as glamorous(co-star Tina Louise got
the glamor girl role of Ginger Grant), Dawn's natural beauty made her a presence that could not be ignored.
With a performing arts degree from the University of Washington (smart too), Dawn made the trek
to Hollywood to become an actress. Initially, she would find the going tough, earning only small parts in several
films and TV shows. However, in 1964, Dawn's luck would finally change. Chosen from among
thousands of actresses (including Raquel Welch), Dawn was given the part of Mary Ann Summers, in a new television comedy called
As the show's theme song tells us, seven unlucky people, on a three hour cruise from Hawaii, are
caught in a storm and shipwrecked on an uncharted island somewhere in the pacific. Gilligan's Island was
screwball comedy at it's best, or worst, which is how the critics initially saw it, mercilessly crucifying
the show in the press. Fortunately for Dawn and the rest of her cast, the show somehow caught the
fancy of the general television public. We loved the silly shenanagans of the castaways, and Gilligan's
Island baffled the critics by consistantly landing in the Neilsen top ten.
Dawn and the cast enjoyed a successful three year run. However, when the show's ratings began
to drop, CBS unceremoniously yanked Gilligan's Island. The beloved castaways were left
stranded on the island, without even the satisfaction of a final episode rescue.
But Gilligan's Island proved to be a sit-com Phoenix. The show was resurrected
in syndication, and became even more successful in it's afterlife, becoming one of the most popular television series
in syndication history. It's characters; Gilligan, The Skipper, The Howells, Ginger, The Professor and of
course, Mary Ann, have gone on to become American pop culture icons.
Sadly, Dawn's post acting career, didn't parallel the success of Gilligan's Island. Horribly
typecast, she would only find work in several low budget films thereafter. However, much like her
Mary Ann character, Dawn didn't allow herself to become a victim of her typecasting. In the seventies, she joyfully
returned to the part of Mary Ann for three Gilligan's Island television movies (in which they were finally rescued
from that damn island). She has gone on to become a published author, acted on the stage, and made numerous
cameos on television shows.
Today, Dawn Wells tours the world as an ambassador of her famous show, meeting her fans,
which number in the thousands(I was lucky enough to meet Dawn, and may I add, she is still as gorgeous and as sweet as
Mary Ann or Ginger? Are you kidding? Mary Ann will always be my favorite