Wells portrayed the sweet, Kansas born-and-bred Mary Ann Summers on the iconic CBS sitcom. Mary Ann, along with several other passengers, was marooned on an island after a casual boat tour went south due to a storm. Hijinks ensued as the crew made their mark on their new island home.
The series ran for three seasons from 1964 to 1967, and made a major splash in pop culture. Several TV movies were made after the show ended, and the cast went on to make appearances on other shows like ALF and Roseanne in character.
"I don't get tired of it because I'm greeted with love everywhere I go," Wells told Penn Live of forever being known as the iconic sitcom character. "It's been a difficult time breaking the image acting-wise. You know, to go and play a real nasty girl. They always say, 'Mary Ann? Are you kidding?' To get past that is so silly because I'm not that person and that person [is] going to be on [television] the rest of my lifetime, most likely, but I'm greeted with love."
In addition to her time on Gilligan's Island, Wells appeared in the cult classic 1976 horror film The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Her most recent credits include an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful in 2016 and a voiceover role on The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants in 2019.
Wells also wanted to bring film to the masses. In 2004, she founded SpudFest Family Film and Music Festival, which took place annually for four years in Driggs, Idaho before being discontinued.
Wells, who does not have children, was briefly married to talent agent Larry Rosen from 1962 to 1967.
In 2018, Wells' friend Doug Kirpatrick set up a GoFundMe account for the star after he learned that she was struggling to pay medical and tax bills. The campaign raised over $198,000. The actress expressed her gratitude for those who donated on Facebook.
"I am amazed at the kindness and affection I have received from the current outpouring in regards to the Go Fund Me Page that is grabbing so much attention and want to address it. A dear dear friend of mine with a big heart was trying to help me with some common issues we all understand and some must face. He create that page with the love [and] emotion like someone protecting their child," she wrote. "In a recent conversation with him I remarked Where did the time go? I don't know how this happened. I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money. I'm grateful that God has given me so many friends and fans who care, or it would all be too ....overwhelming .....I am grateful to any of my fans who are willing to offer support. However, please know that my outlook is positive and I look forward to seeing you all in my travels."
Tina Louise, who portrayed Ginger Grant, is the only Gilligan's Island cast member still alive.