One “Gilligan’s Island” star shared a special connection with The Professor actor Russell Johnson while on the set of the classic TV show.
Mary Ann actor Dawn Wells and Johnson joined the show around the same time. Due to a contract clause with Tina Louise, who played Ginger, neither Wells nor Johnson were credited in the show’s theme song. Both Johnson and Wells fell under the category “and the rest” in the theme. It made things a little icy between Wells and Louise. But it also led to the actor and Johnson forming their own inside jokes.
They felt connected by this grouping and became close friends while on the set of the show. It brought much laughter between Wells and Johnson. In a 2016 interview, the late actor discussed her friendships on the set.
“I think we did, too. We always laughed in that first year about ‘…and the rest,'” Wells said in the interview. “We’d send each other cards saying ‘Love, the Rest’ for Christmas and birthdays, stuff like that.”
Dawn Wells and Her Co-Stars
But Wells wasn’t only friends with Johnson. She became good friends with most of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast as well. For instance, Bob Denver extended Wells a rare invite to his home. He was very selective about the company he allowed over.
“Bob (Denver) was very private. Very private. He had a lot of children, and he’d come in looking exhausted,” Wells said. “There was a childlike soul in Bob. I was one of the few people he allowed in his home. Um, allowed is not the right word. Alan (Hale) was the same size as my dad. So, every time Alan hugged me, he picked me up half off the floor. So there was this big robust, jovial human being there. And he was a good cook.”
In fact, one of the few people Wells wasn’t close with was Jim Backus, who played Mr. Howell on the show. Wells didn’t comment on her on-set relationship with Louise. But she did describe Backus and Louise as being close.
“And Natalie (Schafer) and I were very close, especially in later years,” Wells said. “I was the least close, probably, to Jim (Backus). I think Jim and Tina were very close, I think they both had that kind of movie star/Hollywood life, which I never did. But Natalie didn’t have any children, and towards the end, she confided a lot of things to me. We really were a tight-knit cast, though, and I think that shows. I think the charm of the show was that you could kind of tell we all liked each other.”