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SPOTLIGHT ON...
        DAWN WELLS

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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 Gilligan's Island
 
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 IslandThe 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 ever). 
 
Mary Ann or Ginger?  Are you kidding?  Mary Ann  will always be my favorite island queen. 































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