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Dawn Elberta Wells (born October 18, 1938) is an American actress known for playing Mary Ann Summers on the sitcom Gilligan's Island during its run from 1964 until 1967.

Early life

Wells was born in Reno, Nevadamarker. She attended Stephens College in Columbiamarker, Missourimarker, where she majored in chemistry. She transferred to the University of Washingtonmarker in Seattlemarker, where she graduated in 1960 with a degree in theater arts. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

In 1959, Wells was crowned Miss Nevada and represented her state in the 1960 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker.


After moving to Hollywoodmarker, she began appearing in guest roles in such television series as 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick on ABC, and Bonanza on NBC, before the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. She reprised her role in the various Gilligan's Island reunion specials.

Wells starred with Michael Dante in the independent movie Winterhawk (1975), playing a Western settler kidnapped by a Native-American chief. She continued guest starring in various television series.

Following Gilligan's Island, Wells embarked on a very successful theater career that is still going strong to this day. She has appeared in nearly 100 theatrical productions as of July 2009. She spent the majority of the 70's and 80's touring in musical theatre productions. She also had a one-woman show she performed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 1985.

In the 1990s, she became a spokesperson for Western Union, Cuisinart, Long John Silver's, Coca-Cola and 1-800-COLLECT.

In 1993, Wells published Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook with co-writers Ken Beck & Jim Clark, including a foreword by Bob Denver.

According to Forbes Collector, in April 2005, Wells consigned for sale her original gingham blouse and shorts ensemble from her signature role. A Beverly Hillsmarker auction house, Profiles in History, sold it for $20,700.

In 2008, Wells came to Los Angelesmarker to join Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan's Island for the celebration of Schwartz' entry into the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker.

Personal life

She was married to Larry Rosen (a talent agent) from 1962–1967.

Wells spent summers in her early years in the Teton Valleymarker of eastern Idahomarker, and relocated there in the 1990s.In Idaho, she runs a successful business, Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility. She is the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute. She organized Spud Fest, a regional annual family movie festival, and has been a spokesperson for Idaho Potatoes.

Partial filmography


  1. Good...Better...Best, Missy Sullivan, Forbes Collector, April 2005 Volume 3 Number 4 page 5, newsletter archive at Art Market Insider
  2. Dawn Well's interview from
  3. Driggs plans film school an April 2005 article from Headwaters News (a project of the University of Montana)
  4. Idaho Film and Television Institute site

External links

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