‘Gilligan’s Island’: Dawn Wells Cleared Up Rumors About Tina Louise

Gilligan’s Island is one of the most iconic TV shows of all time with one of the most memorable theme songs of all time. It is one of the most beloved sitcoms, and many have grown up on its reruns and watch it on streaming services. The characters are unforgettable Gilligan, The Professor, Ginger, and Mary Anne. Dawn Wells and Tina Louise (Mary Anne and Ginger) were portrayed as fierce rivals in the tabloids. But what was it like behind the scenes, and did the actors get long?

(L-R) Tina Louise, Dawn Wells, and Natalie Schaefer on 'Gilligan's Island' smiling
(L-R) Tina Louise, Dawn Wells, and Natalie Schaefer on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ | Getty Images

The history of Gilligan’s Island:

The show ran from 1964-1967 and was a surprise hit. For the first two seasons, it was consistently in the top 20 shows. The show was canceled in 1967. What remained, however, were its beloved characters. Bob Denver was the titular Gilligan, lovable but always inept. Alan Hale Jr. was The Skipper, grumpy but as close to a leader as the island had. As the Professor, Russell Johnson was always coming up with a new invention but never got them off the island. Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as The Howells, the wealthy couple. Tina Louise played Ginger “the movie star,” and Dawn Wells played Mary Anne, “the girl next door.” Sherwood Schwartz thought of his show not just as a comedy but a highly political microcosm of society. But much of the attention was on the relationship between Louise and Wells.

Who were Dawn Wells and Tina Louise?

RELATED: ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Creator Explained How the Show Was Political

Tina Louise was a successful actor who had been in the movies Day of the Outlaw and the Italian film The Siege of Syracuse, according to IMDb. She returned to the US to study under Lee Strasberg, who, according to The Actor’s Studio, is one of the most prestigious acting teachers of all time. She guest-starred on the TV show The Real McCoys and starred in the Broadway show Fade Out-Fade In before leaving it to star in Gilligan’s Island. Tina Louise’s manager sold her the show as an actor marooned on the island with many wacky characters. She joined the cast thinking she’d be the star and was reportedly resentful when she wasn’t, according to Collider.

Dawn Wells’s fame started in beauty pageants and she was named Miss Nevada in 1959. After that, she appeared on several TV shows such as 77 Sunset Strip and Bonanza before joining Gilligan’s Island, according to IMDb. Dawn Wells did not expect much of the show, and yet, it became a massive hit.

Did Dawn Wells and Tina Louise get along?

Tina Louise reportedly hated her time on the show and kept to herself on set, typically not interacting with the cast and crew much. Since she was reportedly not exceptionally friendly on-set with any of the actors, but the tabloids mainly focused on Wells and Louise’s relationship. People were already asking if they were a “Ginger” type or a “Mary Anne” type, so it was natural to latch onto this rivalry, and common knowledge cast them as fierce rivals.

The truth is that Wells saw Louise as a big movie star. According to Collider, Wells didn’t even appear in the credits until the second season. They couldn’t be rivals as neither woman saw the other as in the same world. Wells was in awe of Louise’s star power, and Louise saw herself as a star. According to Forbes, however, they weren’t enemies, and at one point, Wells even showed Louise how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. They simply ran in different circles.

Gilligan’s Island was a surprise hit. Critics hated it, but people loved it, and the actors were recognized wherever they went. Tina Louise was from a famous acting school and had left success to be on a TV show where she wasn’t the star. However, she wasn’t in an active feud with anyone on the cast, least of all Dawn Wells.