Russell Johnson: Dawn Wells Recalls 50 Years After ‘Gilligan’s Island’

January 25, 2014 Updated: January 25, 2014

Last week, Russell Johnson of “Gilligan’s Island” died at age 89.

Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers, recalled the lasting impact the show left on her.

“We have never been off the air since 1964, 30 languages all over the world. Who would have thought it? They thought we wouldn’t last 10 minutes. But you know, you can’t tell when it was filmed. There’s no clothes, or cars that date it,” she told the CBC.

“So a new crop of kids, who are eight or nine years old, think it’s happening for the first time. I’ve never seen it in another language, I would love to. I don’t know how they do the voices or what they do with the song,” she added.

Wells said that after 50 years, people still want autographs.

“I’m blessed. I could have done a million shows that nobody would know who I am. But I can’t go to Beijing or the Soloman Islands without ‘Mary Anne, Mary Anne’. It’s fascinating,” she said.

Adding further, she said that she gets recognized “quite a bit.”

“A few the other characters were recast later, but the professor, the movie star, and me were original. I was just the girl from Kansas. Everyone else had a title, but what was I? Was I a secretary, a school teacher? So I think a lot of who I am, I brought to the character and I’ve been raised like a Mary Anne. My mother raised me with the Mary Anne values, so it’s pretty close to who I am,” she said.

A week ago, she wrote a Facebook about Johnson’s passing.

“Russell’s passing and your responses here on facebook are a reminder of how we touch each others lives and how special our moments are together,” she wrote. “I am moved by all your comments and apologize in advance for not responding to individual messages I am receiving during this time.”

She added: “This is a time of reflection for me. To acknowledge and celebrate the life of a dynamic person that was always full of life and a person of strong character and integrity.A kindred spirit. I smile thinking that he ended up living on an island himself.”

A day earlier, she wrote that Johnson was a “true gentleman, a good father, [and] a great friend,” adding: “I love him and shall miss him. My heart goes out to Connie and his daughter Kim.”

He played science teacher Roy Hinkley, who was known to his fellow castaways as The Professor.

In a 2004 interview, Johnson analyzed the show’s lasting appeal.

“Parents are happy to have their children watch it,” he said. “No one gets hurt. No murders. No car crashes. Just good, plain, silly fun — that’s the charm.”

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