By Sean Vichinsky
Dawn Wells, better known as Mary Ann Summers of Gilligan’s Island fame, took time out of her day on Tuesday afternoon to speak with MIPA student journalists in the Entertainment Coverage class. The students in Mr. Flanagan’s course all stepped up with multiple unique questions for Wells.
Cass Tech senior Ikeya Lake asked Wells if her landmark role on Gilligan’s Island impacted her life overall.
“Absolutely,” Wells replied. “I can’t go anywhere in the world without being identified as Mary Ann.”
Wells added that such a level of stardom, even more than fifty years after her big break as Mary Ann, came with a price tag.
“You really become a role model to behave,” she said. “Once you get into the acting industry, it’s not about the acting. It’s about the image you’re portraying.”
Katie Johnson, a high schooler from Ohio, inquired about Wells’ thoughts on being objectified during her time on the show. Previous discussion had been made on the topic of her wardrobe, thus prompting the question.
“I don’t think we knew what ‘objectified’ was. I was glad to be a part of American culture in a healthy way,” Wells said.
As the students spoke with Ms. Wells, she shared personal stories of her time on the Gilligan’s Island set as well as her life after being on the show. She recounted, with particular detail, how a night manager from a hotel would send her love letters during her stay at his hotel.
“Once the phone calls came in at 3 A.M., I ripped the phone from the wall!” Wells said, laughing.
As a key topic during MIPA’s Summer Workshop was the issue of prescription drug abuse, a student made a point to ask Wells about the secret of her success when it came to staying away from drug abuse.
“I never faced that temptation,” Wells said, despite testifying growing up around an influence of alcohol. “What’s better is to find out who you are, and who you are comes from your talent.”