‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Dawn Wells Had Unfortunate Financial Issues Later in Life, Lost Life Savings

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Previous to Gilligan’s Island star Dawn Wells death due to COVID-19, the actress had some rough years after the banking crisis hit her hard in 2008.

Many likely think that Hollywood stars are immune to financial problems as long as they take care of their money. However, that’s not always the case.

Unfortunately for Dawn Wells, much of her finances were tied up in the housing and banking crash in the late 2000s. By 2018, with the addition of numerous medical and tax bills, the actress had lost everything, including her life savings.

However, Wells’ longtime hairdresser and friend Doug Kirkpatrick set up a GoFundMe campaign for the star. Within only six weeks of the campaign’s creation, fans had raised almost $200,000 to help Wells get back on her feet. More than 5,200 people donated to the campaign raising $198,000, which exceeded their $194,000 goal.

“After 2008, like many of us, Dawn suffered through the banking crash and lost everything including her life savings in addition, to a life-threatening surgery which came close to killing her. Dawn was a victim of an unexpected accident that required hospitalization for two months and a very long time to rest and heal,” Kirkpatrick wrote on the GoFundMe page.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Actress Was Reluctant But Thankful For the Financial Help

Although the Gilligan’s Island star was thankful, it was also tough for her to accept that type of help. Wells was hesitant to accept the donations, according to Kirkpatrick. In fact, he said she was “mortified” by it originally.

“I’m not dead broke,” Wells said to Kirkpatrick, according to an Inside Edition interview. “… I can handle it, I can get a job and go to work. … I didn’t ask him to do that.”

Yet as the campaign got rolling, the funds raised showed just how much people cared for Wells. She attributes the outpouring of love and donations to her Gilligan’s Island character Mary Ann Summers.

“Thank you for caring,” Wells said. “… I’m appreciative.”

The actress shared further thanks on social media. The then 79-year-old expressed her appreciation further in a Facebook post.

“I don’t know how this happened,” she wrote on Facebook. “I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money. I’m grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care, or it would all be too …overwhelming. I am grateful to any of my fans who are willing to offer support.”

In addition, a representative for Wells shared that her team “[set] up a trust so there’s transparency. Anyone who wants to know where the money went can know. The trust will decide how much of it goes to medical bills, IRS, etc.”

The funds raised helped the Gilligan’s Island star pay off the majority of her $200,000 IRS debt. It also helped her move into an assisted living home. Fans of Gilligan’s Island truly came through for Wells in her time of need.