Was Dawn Wells really the wholesome girl we thought she was?
Sweet, sweet Mary Ann
Dawn Wells was born in Reno, Nevada on October 18, 1938. He father was a real estate developer and her mother stayed at home and grew fruits and vegetables in their back yard. Dawn often helped her, along with riding horses. She originally wanted to be a ballerina but because of bad knees she had to revise her dream. She entered the Miss Nevada pageant and in 1959 was crowned. She went on to represent the state of Nevada in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1960. She accepted enrollment at Stephens College in Columbus Missouri to study medicine with an emphasis in chemistry. When she discovered the enjoyment of the Drama Club, she transferred to University of Washington in Seattle to pursue a degree in theater.
After moving to Hollywood to pursue her acting career, she had several guest appearances but her huge break was accepting the part of Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan's Island. It was a fact that the cast of Gilligan's Island never received residuals beyond the first four reruns of each episode. This was true except for Dawn Wells. At the time she accepted the part, Dawn Wells was married to an agent. Her husband/agent said that if the show became successful, Dawn would not benefit from receiving such a limited residual option. Expecting that the show would flop, the CBS executives humored Dawn Wells and her agent/husband and put a clause in her contract giving her long-term residuals should the show ever syndicate. As a result, Dawn has made millions of dollars as the years have gone by from syndication of Gilligan's Island.
Dawn Wells and Tina Louise have been asked frequently to appear together in television ad campaigns. However, the actresses have never really liked each other and have not spoken in years. Many of these offers have been declined. The most notable one was a commercial for Old Navy clothing which would have featured them as Mary Ann and Ginger still stuck on the island.
On October 18, 2007, while driving home from a birthday celebration, Dawn Wells was arrested by Idaho police for swerving across the roadway. She was in possession of marijuana, but a third party came forward admitting that the marijuana was theirs and that it was accidentally left behind when the vehicle was borrowed. Dawn Wells pled guilty to one count of reckless driving, was fined and served six months' of unsupervised probation. She claimed she had been reaching for heating controls. As a result of this charge, she lost a speaking engagement which upset her because of community involvement. However, this was not her first run-in with the law.
Back in 1998, Dawn Wells stopped answering phone calls when Bob Denver, the actor who played Gilligan, was arrested after receiving a marijuana delivery. Numerous sources have stated that Dawn Wells was the one who sent him the package and that she had been his long time supplier. She was not charged.
In Idaho, Dawn Wells runs a successful business, Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility. She also founded the Idaho Film and Television Institute, a not-for-profit educational organization with "a vision of education, technical training and economic development in Southeastern Idaho." Dawn Wells has been the spokesperson for Idaho Potatoes since 2004. Her Youtube video on how to peel a perfect potato has had over ten million views.
Mary Ann cooked all of the meals on the island. Her ability to provide a variety of sustenance was amazing. She was probably most famous for her coconut cream pies which Gilligan ate on virtually every show.
"The first thing I'll do when I get back home is bake an apple pie, milk the cow and feed the chickens." Mary Ann was modeled after Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She was sweet, innocent and naive; a country girl with pig tails and gingham. She even haled from Winfield Kansas where she worked as a clerk at the Winfield General Store.
She was alone on the "three-hour tour" that left her lost at sea with her fellow castaways. She was either in her late teens or early twenties, an age that was first pinpointed near the end of Season Two when she said, "Women and children first, so I get two votes." She talked about having a boyfriend named Horace Higgenbotham from Horners Corners, Kansas but confessed later that he really wasn't her boyfriend because he was a complete moronic tool, except she used the words "real creep". She mentioned her mother and father in passing only, but referenced an Aunt Martha and an Uncle George many times that led people to speculate that her parents were actually deceased and that she lived with this aunt and uncle which was another connection to The Wizard of Oz.
Mary Ann was incorruptible. She had a soft spot for Gilligan, was honest and down-to-earth. Even though she liked all of the castaways, she questioned Mr. Howell's greed and Ginger's morals. She was in indispensable character on the island. She was their conscience.
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