Who was Dawn Wells dating? The truth behind Bob Denver relationship rumors after her tragic Larry Rosen divorce

Dawn Wells was rumored to be dating Bob Denver, the actor who played Gillian on the CBS show

                            Who was Dawn Wells dating? The truth behind Bob Denver relationship rumors after her tragic Larry Rosen divorce
Dawn Wells and Bob Denver (Getty Images)

Remember the twinkle-eyed actress who played Mary Ann Summers on the CBS sitcom 'Gilligan's Island'? Dawn Wells, who was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 and represented her state in the Miss America 1960 pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, died on December 30 of Covid-19 complications in Los Angeles. She was 82.

She had sashayed her way into Hollywood with the movie 'The New Interns' and also became a part of shows like 'The Joey Bishop Show', '77 Sunset Strip', 'The Cheyenne Show', 'Maverick', and 'Bonanza'.  

On 'Gilligan's Island', her “good girl” character was seen as the girl-next-door to Tina Louise’s glamorous Ginger, often subjected to men's sidelong glances. Expressing her condolences for her former castmate, Louise said in a statement, “I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me. We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time. I hope that people will remember her the way that I do – always with a smile on her face.”

Actress Dawn Wells (Getty Images)

Who was Dawn Wells?

Born on October 18, 1938, as Dawn Elberta Wells, she was raised by her parents Joe Wesley and Evelyn Wells in Reno, Nevada. Her father was the owner of Wells Cargo, a local Reno shipping company. She studied at Reno High School and then attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in chemistry.

Wells then transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle and graduated with flying colors in 1960 with a degree in theater arts and design. Interestingly, she was also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority in those days. After being crowned Miss Nevada, she made a mark in the Hollywood industry and clinched some roles before being widely recognized as Mary Ann Summers on 'Gilligan's Island'.

She also starred in several reunion specials including three 'Gilligan's Island' reunion movies! Did you know her original gingham blouse and shorts ensemble from her signature role was sold by Beverly Hills auction house Profiles in History for $20,700 in 2005? Much later, she penned down snippets from her life in a 2014 book named 'What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life'.

Actress Dawn Wells (Getty Images)

Dating after that Larry Rosen divorce

On October 27, 1962, Dawn Wells tied the knot with Larry Rosen, a talent agent. They lived together for five years but had no children. In 1967, the two decided to call it quits. She never remarried. In an interview, she confessed, “I always wanted to be a mother and have a big family... But I never found the right person.”

She also said she was obsessed with fame. “I loved honing my craft so I did as many theatrical productions as I could.” However, her marriage to Rosen did give birth to an industry legend about her being the only cast member to receive residuals from the show's re-runs because Rosen had supposedly advised her to change a clause in her contract. This was denied by Wells several times as a myth.  

Actress Dawn Wells and Actor Bob Denver (Getty Images)

Who was Bob Denver?

Much later, she was rumored to be dating Bob Denver, the actor who played Gilligan on the CBS show. Denver died on September 2, 2005. Slipping secrets about her dating life, she revealed in a 2016 interview with Forbes, “Yes, of course. I’ve been dating one person for quite a while, but I am single.” She was also spotted with Bob's son Patrick Denver at certain events.

She added, "I got a divorce, my father died and the Gilligan’s Island series was canceled all within a month. I went straight to heroin. No [laughs], I just went to work. That’s life. I’m a pretty well-adjusted person. I didn’t start out wanting to be an actress. I wanted to be a ballerina, then a chemist. If I had to do it all over again, I’d go into genetic medicine.”

In the same interview, when asked why the original theme song mentioned all the cast members except her and the professor, she said, “I was pretty new and everyone else at that point had had a career. I think Bob Denver went to bat, told them it was silly, that there were only two other people on the island. I think he said, 'I’m not going on unless you change the billing.' We laughed when they did. Roy [Hinkley] and I would still exchange Christmas cards with the greeting, 'From The Rest'.”

Actress Dawn Wells and Patrick Denver (son of Bob Denver) attend a ceremony (Getty Images)

What did she love apart from acting?

In her free time, Wells was said to love to fly fishing, oil painting, ice skating, cooking and traveling. “I once got to travel around the world on the Concorde. My life has always been an adventure and I’m blessed that it still can be.”

Talking about her penchant to travel, she said, “Other cultures fascinate me. When I climbed in Rwanda to see the gorillas, I had my own little video camera. Some of the women had never seen a picture with their children and tears would run down their faces when I showed them. I danced with a Masai warrior. We are more alike than we are different. It’s just where we’re raised and what we’re doing.”

Throughout her life, she went through much financial turmoil. A GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $180,000 was set up by Kirkpatrick to pay for Wells’ “hospital costs” as well as penalties she owed the Internal Revenue Service. 

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