‘Gilligan’s Island’: Dawn Wells Explained Why Mary Ann Wasn’t the Most Popular Character

by Matthew Wilson
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Mary Ann may not have been the most popular character on “Gilligan’s Island.” But audiences absolutely adored the character.

In a 2016 interview, the late Dawn Wells discussed why she didn’t think her character was the most popular. For her, that would have been either Gilligan or the Skipper. After all, those two characters entertained audiences with their broad physical comedy. But Wells did think that Mary Ann was one of the most relatable castaways on the show.

“I really don’t think I was the most popular,” Well said in the interview. “I’m sure it would be Gilligan, maybe, or the Skipper. But, I think Mary Ann was relatable. And for you, as a young person growing up watching the show, Ginger was too much! You have to be pretty sophisticated. And Mrs. Howell could have been your grandmother.”

Dawn Wells on Mary Ann’s Character

Whether you were Team Ginger or Team Mary Ann, there’s no denying that Mary Ann was the more relatable of the two. She was also the more popular as well with Wells receiving more fan mail than her co-star Tina Louise. Audiences thought of Mary Ann as someone they might have met in real life for instance.

“I think you identified with me because I’d have been your buddy,” Wells said. “I’d have been your buddy if I had gone to school with you and you were a guy. I don’t mean to be too modest, but I don’t think it had anything to do with me.”

But Wells insisted that had nothing to do with her or her performance. The actor was very modest and humble when it came to her contributions to the show. Instead, she credited “Gilligan’s Island” creator Sherwood Schwartz with writing Mary Ann as a problem solver on the show. Mary Ann often preached an all-hands-on-deck way of approaching situations.

I just think Sherwood Schwartz put these seven people together and took seven personalities,” Wells said. “And I think Mary Ann was… I don’t think I carried the show, but she was the center of making everyone pitch in. Y’know, let’s not bully you, and let’s get the Skipper on a diet, and make Mister Howell be a little nicer to Mrs. Howell. And I don’t know that it was really in the writing. There were no messages. I think it was the relationships between us all. And there was no jealousy between Mary Ann and Ginger at all.”

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