Actor Dawn Wells who played the wide-eyed girl next door, Mary Ann Summers from the television series Gilligan’s Island died from complications due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to her publicist.
Wells was one of the last remaining cast members from the beloved 1960’s series. She was 82 years old. Wells also leaves behind a net worth of $50,000 as the actor experienced financial difficulties later in life.
Mounting medical bills drained Wells’ nest egg and a friend launched a GoFundMe in 2018 to help her regain her financial footing. The fundraiser generated more than $200,000 and Wells was grateful for the support.
Wells suffered a serious knee injury and underwent surgery that she described as “life-threatening,” according to Insider.
Dawn Wells found it difficult to accept financial help
Wells’ rep at the time said she was embarrassed that she needed financial help. “She is dealing with the embarrassment of the situation and the GoFundMe, but is overwhelmingly grateful for the love and support she is receiving,” her rep told Fox News. “She will make her financial/official announcement on Friday night to the media and those attending the Silver Spur Awards.” Wells was being honored that night, which was her first public appearance “since this ordeal started.”
“The stories are very touching and, perhaps even more than the money raised, has been of tremendous comfort to know that she is not alone — that there are others who understand her situation, how the best plans can go awry,” the rep added.
“Although Dawn won’t deny that she is indeed having a rough time, she has been keeping her wits about herself and like so many others is doing her best to overcome difficult times,” her rep said.
Dawn Wells worked steadily through 2019
Wells’ financial nightmare began when she lost her savings during the 2008 Great Recession, according to Insider. She continued to work steadily, landing job after job following Gilligan’s Island. She pulled double duty in the ’60s also starring in Bonanza while on Gilligan’s Island.
Wells also appeared in the myriad of Gilligan’s Island spin-offs. This included Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island, and short-lived series reboot, Gilligan’s Planet.
She also had guest-starring roles in a slew of popular series. The Love Boat, Vega$, and Fantasy Island were just a few famed series she appeared in from the ’80s. Wells rekindled her role as Mary Ann Summers in an episode of Baywatch in 1991, plus Herman’s Head.
Wells last appeared in series, Kaplan’s Korner in 2018 and did voiceover work in The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants in 2019.
“A misconception is that we must be wealthy, rolling in the dough, because we got residuals. We didn’t really get a dime,” she told Forbes in 2016. “I think my salary — of course, I was low on the totem pole, Ginger (Tina Louise) and Thurston (Jim Backus) got more — was $750 a week. Sherwood Schwartz, our producer, reportedly made $90 million on the reruns alone!”