Gilligan's Island Star Struggles Financially, So Fans Come to The Rescue and Raise Funds

Dawn Wells, the 79-year-old former actress best known from the 1960's television series 'Gilligan's Island', has been struggling both physically and financially. The star lost her money a few years ago, and has recently had risky surgery that requires she be hospitalized for two months.

A friend of hers turned to her fans for help and started an online fundraiser. Wells is touched by the response but some people are furious that she's using her fame to get money from people.

Wells became known all over the world when she played the part of 'Mary Ann', the midwestern girl-next-door with sex appeal, on the sitcom. 'Gilligan's Island' got decent ratings during its three-year run, though critics hated it.

After the episodes were colorized and went into syndication, it became a worldwide phenomenon, and even resulted in three television movies and a spin-off.

Wells said after that, she couldn't go anywhere without being recognized. She remembers going with friends to the Solomon Islands on vacation, and they canoed to an island that had no electricity or running water.

Even there, she was recognized by the wife of the island chief.

Now, Wells has been dealing with some serious problems. She had an accident that resulted in 'life-threatening surgery', according to her hairstylist, Dugg Kirkpatrick, on a GoFundMe page he set up for her.

He adds that the surgery nearly killed her, and that the 79-year-old Wells will need to spend the next two months in the hospital.

Unfortunately, Wells could not afford the medical bills. She lost her life savings in the 2008 banking crash. She also claims she and her castmates never got royalties for the show, so unlike some executives, the actors never got rich from the beloved sitcom.

"I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years," Wells said. "Now here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money."

The fundraiser managed to raise $136,000. After any costs and fees were paid, Wells ended up with $107,000 for her medical bills, care and IRS penalties.

"I have found an apartment for Dawn in a fab retirement village in Glendale Ca. Dawn is thrilled, humbled and flattered. Thank you thank thank you [sic] for this fresh start," said Kirkpatrick.

Wells was touched by the generosity of her fans. "I’m grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care, or it would all be too… overwhelming… I am grateful to any of my fans who are willing to offer support," she said. "However, please know that my outlook is positive and I look forward to seeing you all in my travels."

Many fans who remember Mary Ann fondly were happy to oblige. "Thank you for making puberty wonderful," said one.

"As a latch key kid, shows like Gilligan's Island gave me an escape and laughter. Hope that one day, too, I'd get off the island," said another.

"Your portrayal of Mary Anne is warm a part of so many people's personal lives. Now we can contribute and be a part of yours. Thanks and get well," said another.

Some people were a little annoyed with the fundraiser, claiming that celebrities shouldn't beg for money.

"Sorry no sympathy here. I’m sick of the well to do collecting funds because they are going through difficult times," said one person, who notes that his own fundraiser for a van to transport his disabled son raised only $700. "[W]e received $700 [but] the cash pours in for people that need attorney fees, IRS payments, vacations. Outrageous!![sic]"

"So sorry this is happening to you, but we all have this issue and we weren’t on TV. It’s just part of life… some of us are poor and have one income, sorry I can’t donate," said another.

Source: Daily Mail.
Photos: Greg2600/Flickr, GabboT/Wikimedia, CBS Television/Wikimedia, The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek/Wikimedia

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