“Gilligan’s Island” is one of the best sitcoms to hit the airwaves. The show set the example of what a cast of seemingly unrelated characters could achieve. Their differences provided both chemistry and comedy on the island. At the same time, that cast of characters became iconic.
Dawn Wells‘ Mary Ann and Tina Louise’s Ginger were fan favorites on “Gilligan’s Island.” However, the creation of those roles came down to hair color. Wells opened up about this in an interview with “People” shortly before her death.
Dawn Wells was the second actress to fill the role of Mary Ann. Another actress played her role in the pilot but didn’t work out. So, dozens of actresses auditioned for the part.
However, the final casting hinged upon who played Ginger. “Gilligan’s Island” showrunners wanted the characters to be instantly recognizable in black and white.
How “Gilligan’s Island” Roles Were Influenced by Hair Color
Ginger was a red-haired secretary in the pilot episode of “Gilligan’s Island.” but that changed before the series premiere. They decided to make her a movie star and had the image of Marilyn Monroe in mind, according to Wells.
So, they were leaning toward casting a blonde for the role. However, Tina Louise auditioned for the role and knocked it out of the park.
So, when the then-redheaded Tina Louise landed the role of Ginger, they knew that they needed a brunette for the role of Mary Ann. This was one of the major deciding factors when they chose who would get the “Gilligan’s Island” role.
About landing her role on the now-iconic show, Dawn Wells said, “The show was black and white at the time, and Ginger had light red hair, so a brunette would stand out more in black and white film. And that’s how they ended up with little ol’ me!”
Dawn Wells Discusses Her Time on the Hit Show
In the beginning, no one thought “Gilligan’s Island” showed much promise. It was very different than anything else on TV and many thought it just wouldn’t last.
However, the show ran for three seasons. The series also inspired three feature-length films, a board game, a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and even a reality show.
When discussing her time on “Gilligan’s Island,” Dawn Wells said she loved going to work on the set and enjoyed being Mary Ann. At the same time, the cast shared a strong bond. In fact, Wells told “People” that they were like a family.