The day my job introduced me to Gilligan’s Island’s Dawn Wells

Marie Lowe By Marie Lowe, 30th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>TV

On June 12, 2004, while working at the Arkansas City Traveler newspaper in Arkansas City, Kansas, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Gilligan’s Island’s star Dawn Wells in Wichita, Kansas.

Why Wells was in Kansas

Wells and Gilligan's Island creator, Sherwood Schwartz's son Lloyd Schwartz were at Town East Mall that day judging people who were trying out for the TBS reality series, "The Real Gilligan's Island."

The casting call came to Kansas that day partly because the character Wells portrayed on the show, Mary Ann Summers, was a farm girl from Winfield, Kan.
Winfield is located about 60 miles north of the Oklahoma border and about 30 miles south of Wichita.

On that day Wells told me that Gilligan's Island is aired in 30 languages around the world.
"Everywhere I go someone knows me as Mary Ann," Wells said. "I think the shows popularity grows, new generations are coming up."

What is Gilligan's Island?

For those not familiar with the sitcom that began in 1964, it was the story of seven castaways stranded on an uncharted desert island.
The characters were the Skipper, played by Alan Hale; First mate Gilligan, played by Bob Denver; A rich couple named Thurston and Lovie Howell, played by Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer, Wells’ character Mary Ann; Actress Ginger Grant, played by Tina Louise and a professor named Roy Hinkly, played by Russell Johnson.
It was one of my favorite shows as a child as I grew up on reruns as the show lived and died before I was born.
It was a treat to meet Wells. I had her sign my Gilligan’s Island Nintendo game.

Wells spoke about her visit to Winfield, Kan.

Wells commented on the first time she visited her character's hometown of Winfield in 1993.
"It was a great event for me," she said. "At the football game they had the SS Minnow tip over and out came the castaways. They baked the largest coconut cream pie It was just a great time."

Wells is the founder of the Film Actor's Boot Camp (FABC) located in Driggs, Idaho. A non profit educational organization designed to give aspiring actors a place to learn the tricks of becoming a professional actor.
She said that the boot camp helps the community by creating jobs and it provides the opportunity for kids to learn trades such as running a camera or a boom.
Wells was also a promoter of Spud Fest, an annual celebration of independent family films and music that provides students the opportunity to submit their film creations.
The event was discontinued in 2008.

Other stories about Wells

After my meeting with Wells, I published my story at work. Sadly the story was republished with the added information about her 2008 arrest on a marijuana charge.
Today, I still find that story roaming the Internet and continue to try and have it removed.
Many of the photos I took are also illegally published.
Today, Wells and co-star Tina Louise, who played Ginger are the only living cast members of the show.
Wells is very active on Facebook and on her website
A local news site in my area did a story on her drug arrest and touched on her visit to Winfield. That story can be found at


Dawn Wells, Gilligans Island

Meet the author

author avatar Marie Lowe
I earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma.
My motto- Life is like a marathon, the closer you get to the end, the more it hurts.

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author avatar Retired
30th Mar 2015 (#)


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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
30th Mar 2015 (#)

Great article! Thanks for sharing it. I love Gilligan's Island.

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