Iconic sitcom star Dawn Wells has sadly passed away due to complications relating to COVID-19. The beloved actress lost her battle with the virus on December 30, her publicist confirmed. She was 82. As fans mourn her loss, we’re looking back at her career highlights — here’s five things to know about Dawn.
1. She became a household name thanks to Gilligan’s Island. Dawn portrayed Mary Ann on the popular sitcom, which ran from 1964 to 1967. Her character was the wholesome “good girl” from the Midwest, juxtaposed against Tina Louise‘s glamorous movie star character Ginger. Tina issued a statement following the death of Dawn Wells. “I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me,” the actress said in a statement to HollywoodLife. “We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time. I hope that people will remember her the way that I do – always with a smile on her face,” Tina also added.
2. Dawn was crowned Miss Nevada. Prior to finding fame in Hollywood, she was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 and competed in the Miss America pageant in 1960.
3. She had a long career on stage. Dawn appeared in more than 60 plays throughout her career, performing works by the likes of Neil Simon and Noel Coward. Although she never performed on Broadway, she was seen on multiple national tours, including Chapter Two and They’re Playing Our Song.
4. Dawn recently opened up about filming ‘Gilligan’s Island’. She spoke to The Palm Beach Post in March 2020 about the beloved sitcom, and what it was like behind the scenes. “First, we all truly did get along off-screen. Alan Hale, who played the skipper, really was like the leader. And Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, was such a sweet and wonderful man — and was everybody’s ‘little buddy.’ Our producer, Sherwood Schwartz, cast the show brilliantly. He had a vision for these different characters to come together to form a misfit family.” She also described the show as timeless. “Think about it: Because we’re stranded on the island, there are no outside cues about fashion or technology. You can’t tell by cars or clothes ‘when’ we are.”
5. Dawn was married but never had children. She tied the knot with talent agent Larry Rosen in 1962. They divorced five years later in 1967 — she never remarried or had any children. “I always wanted to be a mother and have a big family,” she told The Palm Beach Post. “But I never found the right person.”