Dawn Wells

An accomplished American actress, Dawn Elberta Wells was born on October 18, 1938. She became well known for her role as Mary Ann Summers in the situational comedy “Gilligan’s Island.” She has also worked as a journalist, publicist, teacher, producer, author, and motivational speaker. Before beginning her acting career, this stunning and refined woman competed as Miss Nevada in the Miss America 1960 pageant. Her more than five decades in the glitz and entertainment industry included equally ebullient performances in a range of movies, T.V. shows, and stage musicals. We are really excited to celebrate her birthday!

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Dawn Elberta Wells

Birth date:

October 18, 1938

Death date:

December 30, 2020 (age 82)

Zodiac Sign:



5' 4"

Net Worth:

$50 thousand

Dawn's Social Media:


Evelyn (Steinbrenner) and Joe Wesley Wells welcomed Wells into the world on October 18, 1938, in Reno, Nevada. She first attended Reno High School, then she went to Stephens College in Columbia. She changed schools and enrolled at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she earned a degree in theater arts and design in 1960. On October 27, 1962, Wells married talent agent Larry Rosen. The couple split in 1967.

Wells won the title of Miss Nevada in 1959 and competed on behalf of her state in the Miss America 1960 competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She made her start in Hollywood on ‘The Roaring 20s’ on A.B.C., in the movie “New Interns,” and in episodes of “The Joey Bishop Show.” In 1964, she landed the starring role of Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.” Wells released “Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook” in 1993.

She was in supporting roles in “Palm Springs Weekend” and “The New Interns” in the early 1960s before collaborating with Michael Dante in “Winterhawk” in 1975. After “Gilligan’s Island,” Wells began a career in theater, and as of July 2009, she had participated in about a hundred theatrical shows. In 1985, she also had a solo performance at the M.G.M. Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Wells was appointed MeT.V. Network’s marketing ambassador in May 2016, just as the network started showing “Gilligan’s Island” reruns. She passed away because of unforeseen circumstances in Los Angeles on December 30, 2020, at 82.

Career timeline

The Miss America Pageant

Wells is crowned Miss Nevada and competes in the Miss America 1960 pageant as her state's representative.

The Acting Debut

Wells makes her screen debut on A.B.C.'s "The Roaring 20s."

The Major Acting Role

Wells lands the starring role of Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island."

The Book is Released

"Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook" is published by Wells.

Wells Becomes a MeTV Ambassador

Wells is appointed MeTV Network's marketing ambassador after the network started showing "Gilligan's Island" reruns.

Why We Love Dawn Wells

  1. She is multi-talented

    Dawn Wells was not only a fantastic actress, but she was also a producer. She was the co-producer of “Surviving Gilligan's Island,” one of C.B.S.'s top-icon-rated Movies of the Week, in which she also appeared.

  2. She is stylish

    Wells is remembered as a fashion icon. She has pulled off iconic looks that are still talked about to this day.

  3. She had iconic roles

    Wells provided the voices for both characters in the animated series after Tina Louise decided not to reprise her role as Ginger in "Gilligan's Planet." Except for Tina Louise, who was replaced by Wells, every performer from "Gilligan's Island" provided their voices for the animated series, which debuted in the 1980s.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. Wells beat 350 applicants for a role

    It's difficult to think of anybody else playing Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," yet she outperformed 350 other actresses in the audition process.

  2. She reprised her role in "Baywatch"

    Wells has played Mary Ann in T.V. movie sequels, including once in a 1992 episode of "Baywatch."

  3. Her father ran a Las Vegas hotel

    Despite coming from Kansas, her father was the owner of the storied Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas.

  4. She wanted to be a medical doctor

    Wells had even laid out plans to go to medical school but never did.

  5. She had to stand on apple boxes

    On the production of "Gilligan's Island," Wells claimed that for Tina Louise and her on-screen positioning to be ideal while filming, she had to stand atop apple crates.

Dawn Wells FAQs

Where is Mary Ann from “Gilligan's Island” buried?

At the Mountain View Cemetery in Reno, Nevada. Wells and her mother, Evelyn, will share a headstone.

Does Dawn Wells have a daughter?

No, Wells has no daughter. Despite their best efforts, Wells and Larry likely didn’t have enough time to spend together.

Why didn't Dawn Wells have kids?

Wells and her ex-husband lead busy lives and thus were probably not able to have children because of this.

Dawn Wells’s birthday dates

2024October 18Friday
2025October 18Saturday
2026October 18Sunday
2027October 18Monday
2028October 18Wednesday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.