“Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells finds herself among those sitcom actors who didn’t get a lot of money out of her TV work.
In a 2001 interview with Bankrate.com, Wells, who played Mary Ann on the CBS sitcom, talks about the money game in TV circa the mid-1960s.
When asked how much she was making on “Gilligan’s Island,” Wells laughs and says, “I don’t know, but it wasn’t anywhere near ($450,000 per episode reportedly for some shows in 2001). It was probably $1,000 or $2,000 a week. I don’t know for sure, but it wasn’t five figures.”
‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Realized Show Business As ‘Fickle’ For Her Life
Wells, who died on Dec. 30, 2020, at 82 years old, was asked about saving her money from “Gilligan’s Island.”
“I don’t know there was a whole lot to save, but I’m a businesswoman,” Wells says in the Bankrate.com interview. “I know this business is fickle, so I’ve tried very hard with investments. I’m not rich by any means. Had we had some of those residuals everybody had, sure. But I’ve managed to make a good living all my life and to provide for when I get old and I’m alone.”
“Gilligan’s Island” ran for three seasons on CBS between 1964-67. Besides Wells, two other actresses appear on the Sherwood Schwartz-created sitcom. Tina Louise plays movie star Ginger Grant and Natalie Schafer plays “Lovey” Howell, wife of Thurston Howell III [Jim Backus].
As for the men stranded on the island, besides Howell there was Gilligan, played by Bob Denver; Skipper, played by Alan Hale Jr.; and the Professor, played by Russell Johnson.
The only remaining original cast member alive today is Louise at 87 years old.
Wells Expressed Little Remorse For ‘Bonanza’ Star In Interview
Back in 2015, Dawn Wells had a few choice words for one-time “Bonanza” star Pernell Roberts. What in the world would get sweet Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” all riled up?
Roberts, who played Adam Cartwright on the popular NBC western, didn’t make it a secret that he disliked his time on the show.
When Wells was interviewed by Herbie J Pilato, she turned a little of her ire toward actors who spent time putting down comedies or dramas that helped them reach fame.
“Turn (the role) down then and give it to another actor,” Wells said. “I get really irritated. Pernell Roberts did ‘Bonanza’ and talked horribly about it for years. Well, let another actor do it. You’ve got crew and craft service and writers and everyone depending on that show.
“It’s not about you,” she said. “It’s not about the star of the show. It was the chemistry. He was lucky. Good actor. Don’t mean that. But don’t bad rap something that you’ve been gracious enough to be accepted (by the country) and popular enough that (the show) was a success.”
Well, we guess that settles that issue forever. But Wells would not back down from talking about those who were not grateful for their success.