I follow the news closely, but on the whole I’d rather watch reruns of Gulligan’s Island than the PBS Newshour. Sometimes it is better to be stuck on an isolated, desert island where everyone has enough space, there is food for everyone, and clean water is plentiful. It is a much cheerier locale without Internet or telephone connections than the dismal, unchanging island and inhabitants advanced in William Goldman’s Lord of the Flies, an episodic novel much like a TV show.
It is important and improbable to appreciate Gulligan’s Island. On the week before Christmas who would have thought that Mary Ann’s photograph wold be printed on the first page of Not Born Yesterday – News for Smart & Savvy Adults. Mary Ann looks terrific. Anyone who is eighteen years or older should stand and salute.
The interview with Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann (have you ever noticed no woman is named Dusk) gives some personal details. Dawn Wells was athletic but had bad knees (not evident on the show). Her youthful activities were jettisoned except canoeing and archery (neither evident on the show or she alone would have rowed to other islands and gotten help). When growing up she wanted to be a pediatric surgeon (not useful on the show). She went to college and onto the University of Washington where she became a theatre major (which is what a lot of people in Hollywood do).
Dawn Wells has now co-authored a book What Would Mary Ann Do? A Life Guide. I hope its tales and advice comes from the real life experiences of Dawn Wells, and not from the TV show. In the interview Dawn Wells is frank about the show: “If you’re a ten year old kid watching…, there’s not much to date it ‘ a desert island is a desert island.'”
I’m happy to learn that the rivalry between Ginger (Tina Louise) and Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) was only fable; Natalie Schaffer, Lovey Howell, was a real human being. Dawn Wells has credits in 150 TV shows and films and 60 theatrical productions since her Mary Ann role.
It is a Hollywood storied career with a book along the way – be positive, have friends, keep and generate new interests. That is good advice for every member of the human race. And for Dawn Wells, Mary Ann could have done much worse.