Dawn Wells, Gilligan's Island Star, Dies at 82 Due to COVID-Related Causes
The actress played Mary Ann Summers on the family comedy from 1964-67
Dawn Wells has died at age 82.
Wells' publicist said that the actress died of causes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
A rep for Wells did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Tina Louise, who played Ginger, is the last surviving major cast member of Gilligan's Island. The show also starred Bob Denver (Gilligan) Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley) and Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper).
Following the success of the family comedy, Wells reprised her character in the TV movies Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979) and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981).
"Mary Ann wasn't just a silly and sweet ingenue," the actress wrote in her book, What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life, according to THR. "She was bright, fair-minded and reasonable, and I like to think that's what I brought to her. She was a little more of a Goody Two-shoes than I am."
Before and after Gilligan's Island, Wells appeared on countless television programs, including Bonanza, The Love Boat, Gilligan's Planet, Growing Pains, Baywatch, Columbo and Roseanne, among many others.
Wells was born in Reno, Nevada, on Oct. 18, 1938 to a real estate developer father and a homemaker mother. Despite her parents divorcing when she was 4, "I did not grow up in a broken home," wrote Wells in her book, THR reports. "I was raised by a very good mother and a great dad."
Decades later, Wells was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 at age 20 and competed in the Miss America pageant the following year. In 1960, she graduated from the University of Washington with a drama degree.
She went on to marry talent agent Larry Rosen in 1962, but they divorced five years later in 1967.
Most recently, Wells' good friend Dugg Kirkpatrick launched a fundraiser in 2018 with a goal of almost $200,000 to help the actress pay off medical bills. (The fundraiser raised $205,510.)
“She did not know that I was setting it up,” Kirkpatrick exclusively told PEOPLE of Wells. “She was very upset with me, probably still is a little upset with me because she’s a little bit embarrassed. But being her dearest friend, I know that this is the best thing. Today she seems to be more on board with it because she’s seeing all the positive things people are saying.”
According to the fundraiser description, Wells had been struggling to make ends meet since the 2008 financial crisis. She allegedly suffered “an unexpected accident that required hospitalization for two months” and needed the funds to “alleviate penalties by the IRS” and cover her hospital costs.
“Dawn is so flattered that her fans have come to her rescue — shocked and amazed, actually,” said Kirkpatrick. “She loves them and always has. She’s proved that over the years. She’s even flown people to her ranch (where she was working) in Idaho for movie screening because they couldn’t afford it. She’s been very generous to many people for many years.”
Kirkpatrick also told TMZ at the time that Wells had no family to support her and had already lost her home.
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