Gilligan's Island actress Dawn Wells dies of Covid complications

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Dawn Wells (centre) played Mary Ann, the wholesome girl next door, on Gilligan's Island

American actress Dawn Wells has died of causes related to Covid-19 at the age of 82.

Wells, who portrayed Mary Ann Summers in the classic sitcom Gilligan's Island, passed away peacefully in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, her publicist Harlan Boll said.

The iconic show ran for 98 episodes from 1964 to 1967.

"There is so much more to Dawn Wells" than the character that brought her fame, Mr Boll said in a statement.

Wells represented her state of Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant before becoming a household name on Gilligan's Island, which was based around three women and four men stranded on a desert island.

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The iconic show ran for 98 episodes from 1964 to 1967

At the time of the Vietnam War, many saw the light-hearted show as welcome respite.

Wells appeared in many other TV shows and films, including 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, and Bonanza.

But it is for Gilligan's Island that Wells will be remembered and her following remained faithful decades on, with her Facebook boasting over 540,000 followers.

Many have been paying tribute on social media.

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In a foreword for her 2014 memoir, Russell Johnson, who played the professor on the show, captured the character of Mary Ann as played by Wells.

"We love Mary Ann because she is the future, the hope of our world," he wrote.

"The youngest of the castaways, Mary Ann has her entire life in front of her. Watching her unfailing good cheer, her optimism is never in question. We love her because we need her emotional support and her belief that all will turn out well," he said.

"We love Mary Ann because of Dawn Wells."