Rest in Peace Dawn Wells: Her best roles from ‘Gilligan’s Island’ to now
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fabulous career.
Actress Dawn Wells, best known for her work on Gilligan’s Island as Mary Ann, has tragically passed away at the age of eighty-two due to complications from COVID-19.
Perhaps one of the true OG “girl next door”, Dawn Wells carved herself a nice little career beyond the smash-hit series Gilligan’s Island, and we’re here to honor her Hollywood legacy as we look back on some of Wells’ more popular roles while we also mourn her passing.
Naturally, we find it only appropriate to first speak on the role that launched Dawn Wells’s career, and that was the role of the piggy-tailed sporting & gingham dress-wearing Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, a show that ran for three seasons from 1964 to 1967. She actually returned to play the character again in three made-for-TV movies later on with much of the original cast returning as well.
The character of Mary Ann provided the show with a refreshing personality, given the extreme nature of many of the other characters – whether we’re talking about Gilligan’s (Bob Denver) clumsiness or Thurston Howell’s (Jim Backus) snootiness. Mary Ann, who was one of three women on the island, felt the most human and made the show and its wacky narrative easier to connect with audiences.
Dawn Wells, who was perhaps so gorgeous that it would’ve been forgiven if Gilligan had assumed she was a mere mirage, made the show light with her subtle yet appropriate performance, as the annoying antics of Ginger (Tina Louise) or the other characters might’ve been too much for viewers at home.
This 1975 film told the story of an Indian chief who’s in dire need of a smallpox serum after half his tribe is wiped out, including his son.
Dawn Wells played the role of Clayanna, having been cast only a few years after Gilligan’s Island had ended.
The film, while receiving mixed reviews for its story, was praised for its sweeping cinematography & overall message. As well, Wells was given some praise for her performance, mostly being cited as a warm departure from her typical “goodie two shoes” roles she had been typecast in prior.
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants
In what would be her final role, Dawn Wells did the voice for the character Gumbalina Toothington in the 2019 episode “Captain Underpants and the Ghastly Danger of the Ghost Dentist”.
This animated series, which is narrated by Goonies & Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, was released on Netflix in 2018 and was met with rave reviews.
While it might’ve only been a nod to cast Dawn Wells in such a small role, there is something sentimental in knowing that she wanted to entertain a young generation in an iconic 70s role, only to give one final performance to a new generation involving an iconic paperback character.
Return to Boggy Creek
This 1977 Tom Moore film was a horror-adventure that actually starred Dawn Wells. It was the sequel to 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek and was actually met with three additional sequels.
Wells played Jolene, a mother of three children who find themselves lost in a swamp in the midst of a hurricane, just in time for the Bigfoot-like swamp creature to come to their rescue.
It was one of the few times Wells was cast as the star of a project, oftentimes being utilized as a supporting character or in many cases as her famed Gilligan’s Island character in popular television programs such as Family Feud, Baywatch, and Alf.
Can you think of any other amazing Dawn Wells performances or will you always think of her as Mary Ann? Let us know in the comments below.