‘Gilligan’s Island’: Dawn Wells Told Incredible Story That Shows How Globally Popular Show Was

by Matthew Wilson

Sometimes a celebrity just gets recognized anywhere. “Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells once discussed how popular the show was. In fact, Wells could hardly go anywhere without one of her countless fans recognizing her. This includes an island in the middle of the ocean.

In a 2016 interview, Wells discussed an incredible story of how far “Gilligan’s Island” popularity stretched. The show only aired three seasons back in the 1960s. But given its unique premise, there was nothing else quite like it on TV at the time. The show established its mark in pop culture and developed lifelong friends.

“You know, it translates easily, into all these other languages,” Wells said during the interview.”Because you don’t really have to understand any PLOT particularly. And I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognized. My favorite story… I’m in the Solomon Islands… (she says something about a knee replacement) I’m not an athlete but, I’m an adventurer.”

Dawn Wells Was Recognized on an Island

Perhaps she missed the island-themed show because Dawn Wells decided to take a vacation to some islands herself. Instead of being surrounded by a colorful gang of castaways, Wells went with some of her friends. The group decided to go see a local village.

“[I] went with some of my Stephens College friends to Rwanda, we climbed up to see the gorillas,” Wells said. “And I went with five other Stephens women to the Solomon Islands, where no white women have ever been. There was no running water, and no electricity. We had a photographer who had married a Solomon Island girl, so he said, ‘I’ll take you around.’ And, as we canoed up to an island, the chief – his family had been chief for nine generations.”

The village was primitive by modern standards. So, the last thing Dawn Wells expected was for someone to recognize her from “Gilligan’s Island.” But life is funny sometimes that way.

“And they were all in huts, up on stilts. No running water, no electricity,” Wells continued. “And he had a little greeting for us. So these young kids did a little dance and as we canoed up to the island, the chief’s wife looked at me and said ‘I know you.’ And I went ‘WHAT? What are you talking about?’ She said ‘I was on the island of Honiara (capital of the Solomon Islands), in 1979, going to nursing school. And I used to come home and watch you in black and white.’ In the middle of the Pacific Ocean!”

Wells couldn’t escape the popularity of the show even in the middle of what she thought was nowhere. “Gilligan’s Island” truly had fans all across the world.