Dawn Wells

Active - 1964 - 2018  |   Born - Oct 18, 1938 in Reno, Nevada, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Nathan Southern

To an entire generation of viewers, actress Dawn Wells will forever be associated with her recurring portrayal of Mary Ann Summers, the sugar-sweet and open-faced country lass shipwrecked on a desert isle with one of the zaniest television ensembles of the '60s, on the sitcom Gilligan's Island (1964-1967). That part lasted for the entire three-season run of the program, and represented Wells' first career breakthrough (she had previously essayed a number of guest appearances on shows including 77 Sunset Strip, 87th Precinct, and Hawaiian Eye). Following Gilligan, Wells accepted parts in a string of B-movies such as Winterhawk (1975), The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), and Return to Boggy Creek (1977), and joined most of the Gilligan series cast for several reunion movies and specials, but devoted much of her time to founding and running the Wishing Wells Collection, a clothing line designed especially for the elderly and disabled.

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Factsheet

  • Great-great grandfather was a stagecoach driver during the Gold Rush of 1849; father once owned the Las Vegas Thunderbird Hotel.
  • Planned on becoming a ballerina, but bad knees prevented her from following her aspirations. 
  • Competed in the Miss America Pageant in 1960, after having been named Miss Nevada in 1959.
  • Performed in more than 65 theatrical productions, including a national touring company production of They're Playing Our Song!
  • Served as coproducer and star of the series Dawn Wells: Reel Adventures.
  • In 1998, launched the Dawn Wells' Film Actors Boot Camp in Driggs, Idaho; it's geared toward those with a solid acting background looking to transition from the amateur to professional world.
  • Owns her own clothing company, Wishing Wells Collections, which caters to the elderly and to people who are physically challenged.
  • Is the founder and artistic director of the Spud Drive-in Film and Music Festival, in both Driggs, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 
  • Served as President of the Idaho Film and Television Institute.