Heidi is the only juvenile character in the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy. The little Swiss girl originally created by Johanna Spyri has watched a lot of reruns on #YouTube since being transported to contemporary New York City. She has become fond of the silly 1960’s sitcom #Gilligan’sIsland. With her own nature being sunny and open, Heidi found a kindred spirit in Mary Ann Summers, the unassuming character played by Dawn Wells. A country girl marooned with nothing to wear but cut-offs and gingham blouses, Mary Ann makes the best of a bad situation by baking coconut pies and mooning over the Professor, even though he never seems to notice her. Mary Ann, though upstaged in nearly every scene by the spicy Ginger Grant, had her share of offscreen fans; the “real” Mary Ann, Dawn Wells, once reported that she and Ginger (portrayed by #TinaLouise) would receive letters from the same men–the ones written to Ginger would be full of lewd suggestions, while the ones to Mary Ann contained invitations to family dinners, dates to go bowling, even marriage proposals.
Dawn Well herself, 82 when she died of #Covid19 complications, last week, was known for being as genuine as the castaway she portrayed. In 2014 she even wrote a self-help book entitled What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life. Though Mary Ann was by far her most famous role Dawn also appeared on Growing Pains, Baywatch and the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She got her start in entertainment as Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss American pageant.
In spite of Mary Ann always projecting bright wholesome optimist, it is the jaded Ginger (Tina Louise) who remains the last surviving cast member of Gilligan’s Island.