Dawn Wells is best known for her role as Mary Ann on the hit 60's TV show Gilligan's Island.
In 1959, Wells was crowned Miss Nevada and represented her state in the Miss America 1960 pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey.]
In Hollywood, Wells made her debut on ABC's The Roaring 20s and was cast in episodes of such television series as 77 Sunset Strip, The Cheyenne Show, Maverick, and Bonanza, before she took the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. She reprised her character in the various Gilligan's Island reunion specials, including a reunion cartoon spin-off, Gilligan's Planet, and three reunion movies: Rescue from Gilligan's Island, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island.
She also appeared as a guest star on Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, 87th Precinct, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, Ripcord, The Everglades, The Detectives (1959 TV series), It's a Man's World, Laramie, Burke's Law, The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, The F.B.I., Vega$, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, ALF, Herman's Head, Three Sisters, Pastor Greg, and Roseanne.
Wells had small roles in the early 1960s films Palm Springs Weekend and The New Interns, and later starred with Michael Dante in the independent 1975 film Winterhawk, playing a Western settler kidnapped by a Native American chief. Her other films include The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Return to Boggy Creek, Lover's Knot, Soulmates, Forever For Now, and Super Sucker. In fall 2011, she began filming Hotel Arthritis, a comedy horror film released in 2012.
Following Gilligan's Island, Wells embarked on a theater career, appearing in nearly one hundred theatrical productions as of July 2009. She spent the majority of the 1970s and 1980s touring in musical theater productions. She also had a one-woman show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1985.
In 1993, Wells published Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook with co-writers Ken Beck and Jim Clark, including a foreword by Bob Denver.
In 2005, Wells consigned for sale her original gingham blouse and shorts ensemble from her signature role. A Beverly Hills auction house, Profiles in History, sold it for $20,700.
In 2008, Wells came to Los Angeles to join Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan's Island, for the celebration of Schwartz's entry into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Wells appeared on a celebrity episode of Food Network's Chopped, entitled "Celebrity Holiday Bash", which first aired December 1, 2013.
In 2014 Wells released What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life, which she co-wrote with Steve Stinson. The book was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Gilligan's Island.
Wells was close to Alan Hale, Jr., who played The Skipper in Gilligan's Island, even after the series completed its run. Before his death, Hale contributed a family recipe ("Kansas Chicken and Dumplings") to her 1993 cookbook, Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook. Hale, whose character was the inspiration behind such included concoctions as 'Skipper's Coconut Pie,' 'Skipper's Navy Bean Soup,' and 'Skipper's Goodbye Ribeye,' can be seen depicted as Skipper Jonas Grumby in numerous photographs throughout the book. She said in a 2014 interview with GoErie.com, about her memory with him, "Alan could not have been kinder to a young actress. He was a real peach." When he died in January 1990, she was the only cast member to attend his memorial.
Following the January 2014 death of Gilligan's Island co-star Russell Johnson, Wells and actress Tina Louise are the only surviving cast members of the original sitcom.
In May 2016, Wells was named Marketing Ambassador to MeTV Network. From a network press release: "Dawn Wells will serve as the MeTV Marketing Ambassador for the coming year, bringing her talent, warmth and generous spirit to a variety of MeTV appearances, performances and events. First up, Dawn will be the on-camera network hostess for The Summer of Me, MeTV’s annual programming event.