Dawn Wells sadly passed away at the end of 2020. She will forever be remembered for her starring role in Gilligan’s Island. During the mid-1960s, she was a heartthrob of America for a reason.
But, in her later years, America seemed to do her wrong. In late 2018, rumors began flying around that she was living in a retirement home. Reports surfaced that it was because of financial issues, and consequently, fans raised a lot of money for her. But she was upset by the false reports of her retirement status. The Gilligan’s Island start was also upset about the reports that she has moved into an assisted living facility.
In an interview from April 2019, the star of Gilligan’s Island gave her thoughts on the assisted living rumors. During the interview, the interview said, “You’re now happy in a retirement home.” Wells gawked at the statement.
“No! I’m not in a retirement home,” the Gilligan’s Island star said vehemently. So, the reporter asked, “Why do people keep saying you’re in a retirement home?”
Wells responded, “I don’t know. Well, right now, because of my knee, I’m where somebody can kind of take care of me. But, I’m not retired by any means at all.”
Dawn Wells Talked About the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Payment Issues
Even though Dawn Wells starred in Gilligan’s Island from 1964 to 1967, she didn’t make a ton of money. There were some issues surrounding how much she and the other actors were paid.
Wells has said that she was never hurting for money but that she didn’t get rich because of the show. In her later years, she struggled financially. Even though she wasn’t broke, fans raised almost $180,000 for the Gilligan’s Island star.
Regardless, the show has been in syndication since it ended. This is one of the many reasons it is still so popular. But, in an interview, she said that the cast of the show only made about $5,000 per week in today’s money.
At one point, rumors swirled that she was a millionaire because of Gilligan’s Island. That was based on the expected residual checks Wells should have gotten. But, Snopes did some fact-checking on this and discovered that the millionaire idea was a myth.
Dawn Wells and Others Did Not Make a Lot of Money From the Show’s Re-Runs
“A misconception is that we must be wealthy, rolling in the dough, because we got residuals. We didn’t really get a dime. I think my salary — of course, I was low on the totem pole, Ginger [Tina Louise] and Thurston [Jim Backus] got more — was $750 a week. Sherwood Schwartz, our producer, reportedly made $90 million on the reruns alone!” Gilligan’s Island star actress said in an interview in 2016.
In fact, many of the show’s cast didn’t make very much money from re-runs at all.
“Not a dime. I was just talking to Bob Denver’s wife recently, and she said, ‘It just makes me so angry.’ We’ve never been off the air, and in how many languages around the world. And we haven’t had one nickel from it! Sherwood Schwartz, I was told, made $90 million on the reruns of Gilligan’s Island alone. He could have split it between the seven of us, maybe given us a million, but nope,” Wells said in the interview.