Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Dawn Wells’ Net Worth: How Much Did She Make as Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island’?

Dawn Wells’ Net Worth: How Much Did She Make as Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island’?

Actress Dawn Wells played out her signature role as Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island for a long time, so what was her net worth? Wells died in 2020 reportedly from COVID-19. She was 82 years old. For her career, Wells did different things in the show business realm. Later in life, Wells gave back to society through her efforts in helping different organizations.

Her net worth at the time of her death in 2020 totaled $50,000. Wells had reportedly been dealing with financial issues dating back to the 2008 recession. Also, a friend started a GoFundMe page for Wells. She reportedly was involved in an accident that left her in need of major surgery. The GoFundMe was looking for $200,000 to help with tax issues and her surgeries.

By this time, Wells reportedly was living in an assisted living community and lost her home.

In 1964, Dawn Wells, who had some guest-starring roles in a few television shows, caught her big break. She was spotted by someone who led her to the attention of Gilligan’s Island producer Sherwood Schwartz. Well, that year Wells joined six other actors on this pretty wild sitcom.

Dawn Wells Had Paltry Salary on ‘Gilligan’s Island’

Wells worked alongside Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., Russell Johnson, Jim Backus, and Natalie Schaefer. Gilligan’s Island filmed its first season in black-and-white, then shifted to color for the next two seasons.

What’s interesting to note is just how much Wells was paid for working on Gilligan’s Island. Wells was paid $750 per week. It equates these days to making $7,300 in current dollar figures. Well, Gilligan’s Island did 36 episodes in Season 1, 32 in Season 2, and 30 in Season 3, according to Celebrity Net Worth. This ends up being around $30,000 annually. Put in today’s dollar amounts, it equates to $300,000.

Also, forget about residuals for Wells and the rest of the cast. They didn’t have sweetheart deals lined up to help them at all. Wells did say in an interview many years later that Schwartz reportedly made $90 million off of the syndication for Gilligan’s Island.

She was born in Reno, Nevada, in 1938. Wells’ father owned a local construction company. After high school, Wells went off to Stephens College in Missouri. She majored in chemistry there but transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle. Wells graduated with a degree in theater and art design in 1960.

Wells Captures Miss Nevada Crown

In 1959, though, Wells won the Miss Nevada Pageant. Then, she appeared in the Miss America Pageant in 1960 in Atlantic City, N.J. She was then off to Hollywood. Among the TV shows Wells appeared in pre-Gilligan included Wagon Train, The Cheyenne Show, Maverick 77 Sunset Strip, and Tales of Wells Fargo. Other shows were Hawaiian Eye, Bonanza, Lawman, and Ripcord.

After Gilligan’s Island ended, Wells appeared in spinoff television movies based on the old show. She also provided her voice for a cartoon related to Gilligan’s Island. In the 1970s and 1980s, Wells focused a lot of her time on being involved in theater productions across the United States.

Wells also published a cookbook, featuring her Mary Ann character on the front cover. When Schwartz received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wells probably was the only cast member from Gilligan’s Island to show up. She always appeared glad to represent her old show when in the public eye.