Dawn Wells Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (29)  | Personal Quotes (13)  | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Reno, Nevada, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications from COVID-19)
Birth NameDawn Elberta Wells
Nickname Pooter
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A wholesome beauty with comedic appeal, Dawn Elberta Wells was born on October 18, 1938 in Reno, Nevada. Wells' childhood was a happy and healthy one. She and her mother grew their own fruits and vegetables in their gardens and Dawn rode horses. In her high school years, she was the class treasurer, President of the debate team and an honor rolls student. Dawn was on her way to becoming a ballerina, but bad knees prevented her from realizing the dream. She was Miss Nevada in 1959 and went on to the 1960 Miss America Pageant. Dawn had wanted to be a doctor, and enrolled in the elite Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri to study medicine, but then she discovered the Drama Club. She then transferred to the University of Washington, which was known for their Theatre Department, and she graduated with a Degree in Theatre.

Dawn moved to Hollywood and was cast as Mary Ann Summers on CBS's Gilligan's Island (1964). The rest is history. However, there was much more to Dawn than her simple Mary Ann character. Wells refused to be an unemployed actor after the show ended and was never out of work since the show decades ago. She performed in over 66 theatrical productions, including the National Touring Company of "They're Playing Our Song!" She did countless voice-overs, commercials and talk shows. She worked for the Australian news show "Midday" and interviewed such talents as Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy and Tom Hanks, to name a few. Dawn has also had great success as a producer and has a number of television movies to her credit. After years of touring and performing in dramas, comedies, and musical theatre, Dawn slowed down a bit. In 1998, she founded the Dawn Wells' Film Actors Boot Camp in Driggs, Idaho. The camp is for the already trained actor looking to make the transition from the amateur to the professional actor.

Wells ran the camp for many years. She has been in a popular commercial for Western Union, capitalizing on her Mary Ann character. In 2003, Dawn did tours of the plays "Love Letters" with Adam West and Eve Ensler's Award Winning "The Vagina Monologues." In early 2004, Dawn established and founded The Spud Film Institute in Idaho and Wyoming, and held the first ever Spud Drive in Film and Music Festival in the summer of 2004. She was also the artistic director of the festival. If that is not enough, Ms. Wells also had her own clothing line for the physically challenged called "Wishing Wells Collections" and she recently launched her own skin care line, Classic Beauty. Dawn Wells continued to contribute to the business she loved so much and constantly gave back to the acting community. She mentored young actors and traveled to colleges all across the United States to teach Master Classes. She served as Artist in Residence at several Universities. Dawn was in constant demand for personal appearances and speaking engagements, yet never forgot to give back to the Artistic community. She will surely be remembered for all her good work. Wells passed away on December 30, 2020. She was 82. You can get information about all of Dawn's organizations at her website, dawn-wells.com.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ken Severson and One of Dawn's Students

Spouse (1)

Larry Rosen (27 October 1962 - 1967) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (5)

Spokeswoman for Idaho Potatoes
Her pigtails and gingham dress as Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island (1964)
Natural brunette hair
Large brown eyes
Attractive figure

Trivia (29)

Her alma mater, Stephens College in Columbia, MO, is a college for women. Joan Crawford was expelled there in the early 1920s.
She received an Associate degree from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, and later a Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 1960.
Miss Nevada 1959; she participated in Miss America 1960.
She co-produced and starred on a television show called Dawn Wells: Reel Adventures (1997).
Her great-great-grandfather was a stagecoach driver during the 1849 California gold rush.
Her father once owned the Las Vegas Thunderbird Hotel.
Owns her own company, Wishing Wells, which makes clothing for people with disabilities.
Colleen Haskell, from Survivor (2000) was often compared to Wells' character Mary Ann Summers from Gilligan's Island (1964).
She and Russell Johnson are best known for their roles on the series Gilligan's Island (1964), but they are also well known for being infamously referred to as "and the rest" in the series' original theme song. The phrase was later replaced by "the Professor and Mary Ann" after protests from the actors.
Runs a "boot camp" for wannabe actors at her ranch in Idaho.
Is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
The band Squirtgun has a song called "Mary Ann", which is about the character she played on Gilligan's Island (1964). She appeared in the music video for the song.
Ex-husband Larry Rosen was an agent.
She and fellow Gilligan's Island (1964) cast member Tina Louise have both been asked to appear together in numerous television ad campaigns over the years. However, the two actresses have never liked each other and have not spoken in years. They have turned down many of these offers. The most notable one was a commercial for Old Navy clothing stores, which would feature them as Mary Ann Summers and Ginger Grant, still stuck on the island.
Despite playing a supporting role to Tina Louise on Gilligan's Island (1964) (and to Bob Denver and Jim Backus), her character Mary Ann Summers was consistently the most popular among viewers, which also contributed to the tension between she and Louise.
Was set to play the role of Nora in the Disney film Pete's Dragon (1977). She bowed out just before filming began and was replaced by Helen Reddy. Her co-star from Gilligan's Island (1964), Jim Backus, makes a cameo in the film as the Mayor.
Has appeared in nearly 100 theatrical productions since 1967, averaging two plays a year.
Auditioned for the role of Lois Lane in Superman (1978), but lost to Margot Kidder.
Has been a spokeswoman for Idaho Potatoes since 2004. A publicity video released by the Idaho Potato Commission, which features Wells demonstrating the perfect way to peel an Idaho potato, was posted on YouTube. It went viral and has over 10 million views.
As of January 2009 she was dividing her time between her home in Los Angeles and her ranch in Idaho. She also serves, along with fitness celebrity Denise Austin, as a spokeswoman for Idaho Potatoes.
Has played the same character (Mary Ann Summers) on seven different series: Gilligan's Island (1964), The New Adventures of Gilligan (1974), Gilligan's Planet (1982), ALF (1986), Baywatch (1989), Herman's Head (1991) and Meego (1997).
As of July 2009, she had sold her Idaho and Los Angeles homes to take up residence full-time in Palm Springs, CA.
As of November 2005 she was producing television in Los Angeles, CA.
As of July 2004 she was serving as founder and Artistic Director of the Spud Drive in Film and Music Festival, in Driggs, ID, and Jackson Hole, WY.
Was the only Gilligan's Island (1964) cast member to attend Alan Hale Jr.'s funeral in 1990.
Just before Alan Hale Jr.'s death, he contributed a family recipe ("Kansas Chicken and Dumplings") to her 1993 cookbook, "Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook". Hale, whose character was the inspiration behind such included concoctions as, "Skipper's Coconut Pie", "Skipper's Navy Bean Soup" and "Skipper's Goodbye Ribeye", can be seen depicted as Skipper Jonas Grumby, in numerous photographs throughout the book.
Former President of the Idaho Film & Television Institute.
Referenced in the film Danny Collins (2015).
She was the daughter of Evelyn (Steinbrenner) and Joseph Wesley Wells. Her mother was of half German and half Italian descent.

Personal Quotes (13)

Acting is my first love.
[in 2004, on her Gilligan's Island (1964) co-star Tina Louise] I saw Tina recently and she is so thin! I mean, I give her credit for staying in shape, but the woman needs to eat some lunch!
Just because a woman is over 50 does not mean she no longer has anything to offer. If anything, we have so much more to offer! We have lived life, we get better with age. I do my best work now in my 60s. Sure, I could retire; but what would I do? Play Bingo? I think not!
Mary Ann has been such a big part of my life these past 40 years, it's really impossible to get away from it. But why would I want to? Everywhere in the world that I go, I am greeted with love. Some kids who watched the show back then are still watching, but with their grandchildren now. That is a really wonderful thing! As an actress, I have succeeded, I created a character that meant something to some people and it has lasted. So I refuse to ignore it and run away from it.
The industry has changed somewhat over the years. I think the opportunity of being who you are is a little easier. You don't have to fit into the mold of the beautiful sexpot or the beautiful leading lady. Your essence of your personality is more of a key.
I hate to admit that because it brings false hopes to the poor kids thinking of going into the business, but I came here [Los Angeles] and got an agent within six weeks and got my first job within six weeks.
It bothers me at times when people say, "Oh, her career went nowhere after Gilligan's Island (1964)." In actual fact, doing more film and TV was not my interest. My theater career has flourished and I cherish that. As an actor, I have always believed theater is the true art form. I have played in nearly 100 productions in my career, with roles ranging from Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to doing "Menopause: The Musical". In film or TV, I would never have been given the opportunity to play such a range of characters.
[on her supposed arrest for marijuana possession in 2007] I think it is so hysterical that people went nuts over it. I am what, now, 102 years old? I get booked for the first time in my life and suddenly I am a drug-using bum? I have told people the facts, but facts don't interest people or the media. They only trust headlines. The only reason I even cared was because it negatively affected my film festival and film school and my sponsors were concerned. If I did not own a not-for-profit school, I would be on Saturday Night Live (1975) making fun of it!
[on "The Vagina Monologues"] I wrote the producers and said I'd like to do it. And they said "Are you out of your mind? Mary Ann?".
[on the death of Jim Backus in 1989] We got letters like it was my family. Flowers were sent to our house.
I don't think you as an actor would accept a job on a series hoping it will be a failure. If you accept that role, you accept the responsibility.
I have been a working actress for nearly 50 years. In those 50 years, my only source of income has been from my acting career. Not many actors can say that! I feel very lucky that I have been able to earn a very comfortable living my entire adult life from this work that I love so much. But what I tell younger actors all the time is that you have to think of yourself as a brand. Much of the money that I make has been from being a spokeswoman. I have made millions of dollars by doing commercials, endorsing products and producing. If you want to be wealthy in this business, you have to do more than Shakespeare!
[about her relationship with Alan Hale Jr.] [He] embodied the teddy-bearish Skipper, was a wonderful man. I never saw him angry.

Salary (2)

Gilligan's Island (1964) $1,600 a week
Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978) $60,000

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