Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers? Ohio State vs. Michigan? Ali vs. Frazier? None of those rivalries have anything on Mary Ann vs. Ginger, the two main female characters of the 1960s sitcom hit Gilligan’s Island.
But while the rivalry will march on, there will now forever be a sadness about it, as Dawn Wells, made famous for her striking girl-next-door looks in her portrayal of Mary Ann Summers, has died of complications reportedly related to COVID-19. She was 82.
Wells was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, before attending Stephens College (Mo.), where she majored in chemistry. She was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 and represented her state in the 1960 Miss America pageant.
That helped her gain notice in Hollywood, and after taking several smaller roles, she became part of the original Gilligan’s Island cast in September 1964, catapulting her to international fame. She beat out 350 other actresses for the role.
“Though she appeared in numerous TV shows, movies and plays, her role as Mary Ann was her most enduring, leading to gigs such as ‘castaway correspondent’ for Australia’s Channel 9 and spokeswoman for the MeTV network. She wrote the book ‘A Guide to Life: What Would Mary Ann Do?’ in honor of the 50th anniversary of ‘Gilligan’s Island,'” Variety reported.