Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” has been hired by MeTV, the Chicago-based network for classic TV, as its first “marketing ambassador.”
In addition to serving as on-camera host for “The Summer of Me,” the network’s upcoming primetime lineup, Wells will appear in commercials and print ads, participate in special events and make personal appearances around the country to promote MeTV, according to an announcement Wednesday by Weigel Broadcasting, the network’s parent company.
“Dawn Wells is the perfect ambassador for MeTV’s family-friendly lineup,” Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, said in a statement. “Dawn is wonderful, warm and fun to spend time with — just like MeTV. We welcome her to our family and look forward to sharing new adventures with one of TV’s most loved characters.”
Starting May 30, “Gilligan’s Island” replaces “Laverne & Shirley” at 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on MeTV’s schedule. Wells played a perky girl-next-door character among a group of castaways from a sightseeing boat marooned on an uncharted island.
“The show literally went to the ends of the earth to avoid reality in a premise that seemed to overwhelm the writers with its limitations,” noted authors Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik in Watching TV: Eight Decades of American Television. “Overall, the show resembled nothing so much as a kiddie cartoon and it seemed designed to capture the interest of young children by presenting cardboard adults who acted like children in grownup bodies.”
Despite its critics, “Gilligan’s Island” aired for three seasons on CBS from 1964 to 1967, and grew in popularity during its long run in syndication.
Wells first turned up on MeTV last year when she appeared in promos for the network and hosted a three-hour marathon of her favorite “Gilligan’s Island” episodes.
“It’s questionable today what some TV shows provide for our impressionable kids,” Wells said in a statement Wednesday. “I’m proud to be the MeTV ambassador. MeTV is a network which airs classic family TV shows the entire family can watch together.”
In 2005, TV Guide ranked Wells No. 50 on its list of “The 50 Sexiest Stars of All Time.”