Remembering the girl next door from ‘Gilligan’s Island’

Check in with Mary Ann and the others on "Gilligan's Island"

“Gilligan’s Island” on MeTV on Sunday afternoons

Do a web search on “youthful exuberance” and you’ll likely find a photo of Dawn Wells.

Dawn Wells

Yes, the actress who will forever be remembered as wholesome Midwestern castaway Mary Ann Summers in the 1964-67 CBS sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” is locked in our collective consciousness as someone blessed with eternal youth, which made her death last month at age 82 from COVID-19 all the more shocking

As Mary Ann, she evoked a perky, down-to-earth charm and was certainly more approachable than the more glamorous movie star Ginger Grant (Tina Louise). And she was also quite handy as she could cook, garden and do an assortment of other tasks. No wonder the Professor (Russell Johnson) and Gilligan (Bob Denver) gravitated to her.

And Wells embraced the persona. A fixture at autograph signings, she relished being recognized in public as the character and even penned the 2014 book “What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life” to coincide with the series’ 50th anniversary.

Fans who want to check in with Mary Ann and the others can dial up “Gilligan’s Island” on MeTV on Sunday afternoons.

Other Retro Rewinds:

“Bewitched” (Antenna TV, weekdays):

Elizabeth Montgomery made her mark on TV history in this 1964-72 ABC comedy in which she starred as Samantha, a witch who marries mortal ad executive Darrin (Dick York) and tries to assimilate into his world by concealing her considerable powers, much to the consternation of her mother (Agnes Moorhead) and her magical family. The series weathered numerous cast changes over the years, most notably Dick Sargent replacing York due to health problems, but it still managed to get plenty of love from viewers and Emmy voters.

“Get Smart” (Decades, weeknights):

From the fertile minds of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry came this secret agent parody that cast Don Adams as Agent 86, who with partner Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) worked to thwart threats to the nation and to the world for CONTROL, which were usually perpetrated by KAOS. Brooks called it “an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy” and fans whole-heartedly embraced it.

“My Favorite Martian” (Cozi TV, Sundays):

On the subject of beings with unusual powers, we present for your consideration “Uncle” Martin. As played by character actor Ray Walston, he’s a 450-year-old Martian anthropologist who crash-lands his spaceship in Southern California and is taken in by young reporter Tim O’Hara (Bill Bixby). Like Jeannie, he has unusual powers – telepathy, invisibility and the ability to levitate objects, to name a few – but he refuses to reveal his true identity to anyone except Tim, lest he cause a panic.

“Hazel” (Antenna TV, weekdays):

Oscar-winning actress Shirley Booth had the title role in this comedy that followed the adventures of a live-in maid and the family she worked for, the Baxters. Her frequent contest of wills with the man of the house, “Mr. B” (Don DeFore), was usually at the center of the storylines.

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