Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Dawn (Wells)!

Mary Ann Summers

The Castaways

Ms Dawn

Happy birthday wishes go out today for one of my favorite actresses, and fantasy girl of approximately 3.3452785 billion men throughout the years (along with Ginger), Mary Ann Summers herself (I didn't know Mary Ann even had a last name before writing this), Ms. Dawn Wells.
Dawn Elberta Wells (nickname: Pooter (Pooter?)) was born in Reno, Nevada (her great-great-grandfather was a stagecoach driver during the 1849 California gold rush, and her dad once owned the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas), the fourth largest city in that state, former home to the Martis people (from 2000 BCE to 500 CE), and which is currently lauded for the quality of work from it's local police force.
She had a happy childhood, growing vegetables and fruits in her own garden and riding horses. She wanted to become a ballerina, but she had a knee problem which forbid realizing that dream. She attended Reno High School and was the class treasurer, President of the debate team, and an honor roll student (clearly a show off). Dawn later attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri to study chemistry and medicine as she first desired to become a physician. But while there she discovered the Drama Club, which changed the direction of her life.
Dawn transfered to the University of Washington, in Seattle, which was known for for their Theater Department, and she graduated with a Degree in Theater.
She was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959, as she was very pretty... for a girl, and later represented her state in the 1960 Miss America contest.
She moved to Hollywood, California, and had the foresight to marry a talent agent in 1962. She subsequently got roles on television shows like "77 Sunset Strip," "Maverick," and "Bonanza."
And in 1964 she was cast as Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" (why was it Gilligan's island? Did he own it? Did he have a deed? Had he in fact planned the shipwreck all along, and secretly controlled the fate of his fellow castaways who he toyed with at his leisure? Questions that need to be asked and which may never receive answers), a life changing event for her... and the entire cast actually.
The show ran for a total of 3 seasons and 98 episodes (from September 26, 1964, to September 4, 1967). Ratings were strong throughout it's original run, but the show gained in popularity through years of syndication, and has since attained the status of an American icon. The castaways, by the way, were left stranded on the island on the last show of the third and final season, as the show was expected to be renewed for a fourth season by CBS, but was canceled at the last minute, possibly due the it's time slot being moved around a good deal and the constant idiocy of television executives which exists to this day. It wouldn't be until 1978 that they would get off the darned island in the South Pacific, in "Rescue from Gilligan's Island," a two part television movie (minus Tina Louise as Ginger). Unfortunately, Gilligan, the Skipper, the Howells, the professor, Ginger (portrayed by Judith Baldwin) and Mary Ann got themselves stranded again on the very same island by the end of the film. It wouldn't be until the next year in "The Castaways on Gilligan's Island," that they'd get off that freaking island for good (actually they come back to work on the island which Mr. Howell turned into a resort). I won't even go onto "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island." As Monty Pyhthon's Graham Chapman would put it, "It's just too silly."
After the series ended* Dawn began a very successful career on stage, appearing in over 100 theatrical productions averaging two a year, and continues performing to this day. She has been a voice over actor, producer for television movies, and has appeared in countless commercials and talk shows. 1998, she founded the Dawn Wells' Film Actors Boot Camp in Driggs, Idaho, where she lives.
She has been a spokeswoman for Idaho Potatoes since 2004, and has demonstrated the art of peeling a potato on You Tube, which can be seen right here:
I have to admit that I did not know about that peeling technique. But there's a lot of things I don't know.
As you can see in the short video Dawn is comfortable being remembered primarily for her work on "Gilligan's Island.
"Mary Ann has been such a big part of my life these past 40 years, it's really impossible to get away from it. But why would I want to? Everywhere in the world that I go I am greeted with love. Some kids who watched the show back then are still watching, but with their grandchildren now. That is a really wonderful thing! As an actress I have succeeded, I created a character that meant something to some people and it has lasted. So I refuse to ignore it and run away from it."
She also likes to smoke a little pot once in a while.
Anyway everyone here at Joyce's Take wish her continued good health, success, and happiness and a very happy birthday.
Happy birthday Dawn!
* According to the IMDB, "It has long been stated that the entire cast of Gilligan's Island never received residuals beyond the first four reruns of each episode. This was true for the entire cast except Dawn Wells. When the show was picked up by CBS and Dawn was cast to replace Nancy McCarthy, she was married to her agent at the time. In her original contract she was to be paid $1200 per week plus the residual contract the 6 other castaways received. Her husband/agent said that should the show become successful Dawn would not benefit from receiving such a limited residual option. Believing the show would flop, the CBS executives humored Dawn and her husband and put a clause in her contract giving her long-term residuals should the show ever syndicate. As a result from that clause Dawn has made literally millions of dollars as the years have gone by from syndication of Gilligan's Island. This was never public knowledge. Dawn and series creator Sherwood Schwartz are the only individuals to profit long-term from the series."

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