LOS ANGELES  — Dawn Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday of causes related to COVID-19, her publicist said. She was 82.

Wells died peacefully at a living facility in Los Angeles, publicist Harlan Boll said.

“There is so much more to Dawn Wells” than the “Gilligan’s Island” character that brought her fame, Boll said in a statement.

The cast of “Gilligan’s Island,” from left, Russell Johnson, as the professor; Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III; Natalie Schafer, as Mrs. Howell III; Alan Hale Jr., as the skipper; Bob Denver, as Gilligan; Judith Baldwin replacing original cast member Tina Louise, as Ginger, and Dawn Wells, as Mary Ann, posing during filming of a two-hour reunion show, “The Return from Gilligan’s Island,” in 1978. Associated Press

Besides TV, film and stage acting credits, her other real-life roles included teacher and motivational speaker, Boll said.

Born in Reno, Nevada, Wells represented her state in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. Her early TV roles came on shows including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick” and “Bonanza.”

Then came “Gilligan’s Island,” a goofy, good-natured show that became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture.


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