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Dawn Wells (1938-2020)


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I wasn't quite born yet during Gilligan's Island's initial run, but like millions of people my age I watched every episode multiple times each in syndication (well, the color episodes anyway. I refused to watch anything in black and white as a child except for The Three Stooges and Leave It to Beaver). I was so young, it was before I even began to think of Mary Ann and Ginger as hot. I just responded to how sweet Mary Ann was. I very excitedly watched that made for TV movie where they finally got off the island (temporarily).

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I had the pleasure of meeting Dawn at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Maryland a few years back.   She was charming.  One thing I remember is our discussion about her co-star, Alan Hale, Jr. , and the fact that he had appeared in a few film noirs - usually as the heavy, of course.,  She thought I was confusing Alan Jr with his father,  Alan Sr., who of course is a regular on the movies shown on TCM.    Another sad passing ...  

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I've seen every episode of Gilligan's Island multiple times.  And while a little bit can go a long way sometimes, I always loved Mary Ann.  She, along with The Professor, kept the show grounded--though neither Mary Ann nor The Professor were above getting involved in some wacky schemes now and then.  Mary Ann was so pretty and just seemed so nice.  She was a nice balance to the more overtly sexual Ginger or the dingy Mrs. Howell.  

One of my favorite Mary Ann moments is when she, Ginger, and Mrs. Howell dress up as "The Honeybees" to try and convince The Mosquitos (the band who happened upon the uncharted desert isle and planned to stay at least a month to escape their rabid fans) to want to leave the island early.  The Mosquitos end up bailing without the castaways, because The Honeybees are so good that The Mosquitos worry about competition.

I also love the episode where Gilligan finds the radioactive seeds and the castaways grow these insane vegetables.  The supposed health benefit from each different variety of vegetable is heightened.  The spinach gives Gilligan superhuman strength, the sugar beets give Mrs. Howell tons of energy, and the carrots give Mary Ann insanely good eyesight.  She can spot ships that are miles away from the lagoon.

Another Mary Ann episode I love is when she gets hit on the head and is knocked out.  When she awakens, she thinks she's Ginger and takes on all of Ginger's characteristics.  Then, Mary Ann (still thinking she's Ginger) "restyles" all of Ginger's gowns when she tries them on an realizes they're all about a half a foot too long (obviously they fit well on the very tall Ginger).   Ginger's wardrobe of long evening gowns have been turned into a new wardrobe of knee-length gowns. 

RIP Dawn Wells.

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Statement from Tina Louise:

“I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me. 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.”

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Dawn's two hour interview with the Television Academy is worth watching.

"There hasn't been a Mary Ann on the air for I don't know how long.  There hasn't been a good girl over 14, and Mary Ann was very much that. The Mary Ann-Ginger issue is always there. You had to be a real man to understand Ginger, and Mary Ann would've gone to the prom with you and been your best friend. A lot of guys would come up to me and say I married a Mary Ann. She had the values."

https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/interviews/dawn-wells

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23 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Dawn's two hour interview with the Television Academy is worth watching.

"There hasn't been a Mary Ann on the air for I don't know how long.  There hasn't been a good girl over 14, and Mary Ann was very much that. The Mary Ann-Ginger issue is always there. You had to be a real man to understand Ginger, and Mary Ann would've gone to the prom with you and been your best friend. A lot of guys would come up to me and say I married a Mary Ann. She had the values."

https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/interviews/dawn-wells

Interestingly, the year after Ms Wells said this, "a good girl over 14" did appear on the air; the teenage daughter Sue Heck in the ABC sitcom "The Middle." (2009-2018)

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Just now, sagebrush said:

Interestingly, the year after Ms Wells said this, "a good girl over 14" did appear on the air; the teenage daughter Sue Heck in the ABC sitcom "The Middle." (2009-2018)

I wonder if she was referring to the Miley Cyrus type girls, who were trying to be sexually provocative at an early age.

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In the interview I posted, she talks about getting pulled over by a cop in Idaho and arrested for having marijuana in the vehicle. But apparently it was a rental (a van I think she said) and she claimed that someone who had used the vehicle before her had left the drugs in it.

Not sure if I believed that but the way she tells the story, it's kind of interesting...and she said the tabloids raked her over the coals for it, because sweet innocent Maryann getting arrested for drugs was newsworthy. On a serious note, she said that arrest had a consequence since it tarnished her reputation for awhile. She did a lot of public speaking events and would talk to young girls who looked up to her as a positive role model.

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17 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

In the interview I posted, she talks about getting pulled over by a cop in Idaho and arrested for having marijuana in the vehicle. But apparently it was a rental (a van I think she said) and she claimed that someone who had used the vehicle before her had left the drugs in it.

Not sure if I believed that but the way she tells the story, it's kind of interesting...and she said the tabloids raked her over the coals for it, because sweet innocent Maryann getting arrested for drugs was newsworthy. On a serious note, she said that arrest had a consequence since it tarnished her reputation for awhile. She did a lot of public speaking events and would talk to young girls who looked up to her as a positive role model.

Yes.  Of course they would do that. Seeing her do promos on MeTv - I had no idea she was in her eighties. She looked wonderful. Vivacious still. 

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1 hour ago, speedracer5 said:

I've seen every episode of Gilligan's Island multiple times.  And while a little bit can go a long way sometimes, I always loved Mary Ann.  She, along with The Professor, kept the show grounded--though neither Mary Ann nor The Professor were above getting involved in some wacky schemes now and then.  Mary Ann was so pretty and just seemed so nice.  She was a nice balance to the more overtly sexual Ginger or the dingy Mrs. Howell.  

One of my favorite Mary Ann moments is when she, Ginger, and Mrs. Howell dress up as "The Honeybees" to try and convince The Mosquitos (the band who happened upon the uncharted desert isle and planned to stay at least a month to escape their rabid fans) to want to leave the island early.  The Mosquitos end up bailing without the castaways, because The Honeybees are so good that The Mosquitos worry about competition.

I also love the episode where Gilligan finds the radioactive seeds and the castaways grow these insane vegetables.  The supposed health benefit from each different variety of vegetable is heightened.  The green beans give Gilligan superhuman strength, the sugar beets give Mrs. Howell tons of energy, and the carrots give Mary Ann insanely good eyesight.  She can spot ships that are miles away from the lagoon.

Another Mary Ann episode I love is when she gets hit on the head and is knocked out.  When she awakens, she thinks she's Ginger and takes on all of Ginger's characteristics.  Then, Mary Ann (still thinking she's Ginger) "restyles" all of Ginger's gowns when she tries them on an realizes they're all about a half a foot too long (obviously they fit well on the very tall Ginger).   Ginger's wardrobe of long evening gowns have been turned into a new wardrobe of knee-length gowns. 

RIP Dawn Wells.

That's funny !!  Looks like Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) was doing his best impression of tv host Ed Sullivan, while  "The Mosquitos" were "aping" -- yes, the pun was intended - another popular tv rock and roll band that was on television contemporaneous with Gilligan's Island:  The Monkeys -   

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I liked the episode in "Gilligan's Island" when Mary Ann gets conked on the head and thinks she's Ginger.  Later, when the Professor tries to hypnotize Mary Ann to get her back to normal, Gilligan, who was eavesdropping on the session, becomes hypnotized himself.  Later, it causes Mr. Howell to quip, "We've got 3 Mary Anns, but we're fresh out of Gingers and Gilligans."!

Most of us who were fans of the show can quote a lot of funny dialogue between characters, despite the corniness of it.  It was a nice diversion from the rigors of daily life.

There are several interviews on YouTube with Dawn Wells about how she got involved in show business, her experiences on the set of "Gilligan's Island", and how she came to run for Miss Nevada when she was a student at the University of Washington.

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