Oct. 18th, 1938
Reno, Nevada, USA
Dawn Wells' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1976 - The Town That Dreaded Sundown
1964 - The New Interns
1963 - Palm Springs Weekend
Guest TV Roles
Elaine 'Elly' Stratton
A wholesome beauty from Reno, Nevada, Wells was on her way to becoming a ballerina, but bad knees prevented her from realizing the dream. Despite this, she did become Miss Nevada and was in the 1960 Miss America pageant. Wells majored in drama during her collegiate years (she was originally going to study chemistry) and after graduation moved to Hollywood and got parts in several popular TV shows. Wells got the part of Mary Ann Summers in "Gilligan's Island" (1964), after CBS decided not to go with Nancy McCarthy (who played Bunny, the forerunner to Mary Ann).
After "Gilligan" ended it's three-year tour, Wells found work in the theatre and a few movies, but mostly talk shows that emphasized reunion themes. Lately she has been in a popular commercial for Western Union, capitalizing on her Mary Ann character.
- It has long been stated that the entire cast of Gilligan's Island never received residuals beyond the first four reruns of each episode. This was true for the entire cast except Dawn Wells. When the show was picked up by CBS and Dawn was cast to replace Nancy McCarthy, she was married to her agent at the time. In her original contract she was to be paid $1200 per week plus the residual contract the 6 other castaways received. Her husband/agent said that should the show become successful Dawn would not benefit from receiving such a limited residual option. Believing the show would flop, the CBS executives humored Dawn and her husband and put a clause in her contract giving her long-term residuals should the show ever syndicate. As a result from that clause Dawn has made literally millions of dollars as the years have gone by from syndication of Gilligan's Island. This was never public knowledge. Dawn and series creator Sherwood Schwartz are the only individuals to profit long-term from the series.
- She and fellow _"Gilligan's Island" (1964)_ (qv) cast member 'Tina Louise' (qv) have both been asked to appear together in numerous television ad campaigns over the years. However, the two actresses have never liked each other and have not spoken in years. They have turned down many of these offers. The most notable one was a commercial for Old Navy clothing stores, which would feature them as Mary Ann and Ginger, still stuck on the island.
- Her great-great-grandfather was a stagecoach driver during the 1849 California gold rush.
- She co-produced and starred on a television show called _"Dawn Wells: Reel Adventures" (1997)_ (qv).
- Owns her own company, Wishing Wells, which makes clothing for people with disabilities.
- Her alma mater, Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, a college for women. 'Joan Crawford (I)' (qv) was expelled from Stephens in the early 1920s.
- She earned an A.A. at the two year college, Stephens College, Missouri, and later a B.A. at the University of Washington in 1960.
- 'Colleen Haskell' (qv), from _"Survivor" (2000)_ (qv) was often compared to Wells' character Mary Ann from _"Gilligan's Island" (1964)_ (qv).