Dawn Wells, who played the role of Mary Ann in the 1960s sitcom "Gilligan's Island," is thanking fans who have supported a friend's crowdfunding effort to help the 79-year-old actress pay staggering medical and tax bills.
"Wow! I am amazed at the kindness and affection I have received," Wells posted on Facebook Wednesday, following the generous response to a GoFundMe page initiated Aug. 27 by Emmy-nominated hairstylist Dugg Kirkpatrick. As of Thursday night, it had topped $98,000 toward its $180,000 goal.
"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," the actress wrote, adding that, "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."
A person named Tina Louise who responded in the comments section is a Nashville-based drag performer and not Wells' "Gilligan's Island" co-star, the only other surviving member of a cast that had included Bob Denver and Jim Backus.
Kirkpatrick, whose credits include "The Nanny," "Glee," "Masters of Sex" and other series, wrote on the crowdfunding page that in 2008, "Dawn suffered through the banking crash and lost everything including her life savings." He said she also underwent "a life-threatening surgery which came close to killing her. Dawn was a victim of an unexpected accident that required hospitalization for two months and a very long time to rest and heal." Kirkpatrick said Wells "needs $194,000 to alleviate penalties by the IRS . . . and to pay her hospital costs."
He told TMZ.com that Wells had broken her knee this year while recovering from a surgery that had developed complications.
Wells’ recent screen work has included an episode of the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 2016, and the actress has made autograph appearances at comics conventions and elsewhere.
In 2014, Wells was living in Idaho, where she was a representative for Idaho Potatoes and founded the nonprofit Idaho Film and Television Institute. She also ran the now-defunct Wishing Wells Collections, a clothing line for the disabled. Wells now lives in Hollywood, California, according to her Twitter profile, and Kirkpatrick said in a crowdfunding update, "I have found an apartment for Dawn in a fab retirement village in Glendale Ca."