Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Life and Times of Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island)

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Gilligan's Island star, Dawn Wells, who portrayed  Mary Ann Summers in the 1960s serries.  On December 30, 2020, Dawn died of causes related to COVID-19.  She was 82 years old.  

Tina Louise, 87, who played movie star Ginger Grant, on the show, is the only surviving member of the cast, which also included Bob Denver as the title character, Alan Hale Jr. as the Skipper, Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as millionaire couple Thurston and Lovey Howell and Russell Johnson as the Professor.  

Dawn Elberta Wells was born on October 18, 1938 in Reno, Nevada, U.S.A.  Dawn's dream was to become a ballerina.  However, bad knees prevented her from realizing her original goal.  So, she decided to study medicine instead.  In 1956, Dawn enrolled in Stephens College, a private women's college  in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in chemistry.  After realizing that she had a greater interest in the drama club, Dawn transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle, which was known for its theatre department.  She graduated in 1960 with a degree in theatre and design.

In 1959, Dawn was crowned Miss Nevada.  She represented her home state in the 1960 Miss America pageant, which helped launch her Hollywood career.  After moving to Los Angeles, Dawn made her TV acting debut in The Roaring 20s, an ABC drama series.  In the 1960s, she appeared in episodes of numerous TV series, including several Westerns,  She guest-starred on Maverick (1961), Wagon Train (1961), 77 Sunset Strip (four episodes in 1961),, Bonanza (1962, 1968), The Joey Bishop Show (1962, 1964), Hawaiian Eye (1962) and The F.B.I. (1969).

Dawn's big break came when she was cast as the wholesome Mary Ann Summers, one of the seven castaways on the sitcom Gilligan's Island.  Gilligan's Island ran on CBS from 1964 to 1967.  It was created by Sherwood Schwartz, who also created The Brady Bunch.  Dawin appeared in 98 of Gilligan's Island's  99 episodes.  She did not appear in the pilot episode, "Marooned," which was filmed in November of 1963, but was not shown on television until almost 30 years later, on October 16, 1992.

Dawn's character, Mary Ann, was sweet and thoughtful, the girl next door.  In contrast, Tina Louise's character, Ginger, was exotic and glamorous.  

Below is a 1964 photo of Dawn Wells as MaryAnn in Gilligan's Island.

After Gilligan's Island, Dawn concentrated on a theatre career.  As of July 2009, she had appeared in almost a hundred stage productions, including Neil Simon's Chapter Two and the musical version of Neil Simon's book They're Playing Our Song, with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Carol Bayer Sager.

Due to her theatrical tours, Dawn's accepted fewer television roles during the 1970s and 1980s.  In the 1970s, She appeared as Mary Ann Summers in two Gilligan's Island TV movies: Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978) and The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979).  She also appeared in a 1978 episode of the crime/drama series, Vega$, entitled "Serve, Volley and Kill" (Season 1, Episode 11, Air Date: December 20, 1978).

In the 1980s, Dawn guest-starred in a two-part episode of The Love Boat (1980) , a 1981 episode of Fantasy Island a 1983 episode of Matt Houston and two 1987 episodes of Growing Pains.  She also reprised her Mary Ann role in a 1981 TV movie called The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island and portrayed Miss Lorilee Lee in High School U.S.A., a 1983 TV movie.

In the 1990s, Dawn appeared as Mary Ann Summers in an episode of Baywatch (1992) and she guest-starred in an episode of Columbo (1993).  She also appeared as Mary Ann as part of a Gilligan's Island fantasy in a 1995 episode of Roseanne entitled "Sherwood Schwartz - A Loving Tribute" (Season 7, Episode 25, Air Date: May 24, 1995).

In the 2000s, Dawn continued to make TV acting appearances.  In 2001, she guest-starred in an episode of Three Sisters, a comedy about a man whose two sisters-law move in with him and his wife.  In 2007, Dawn played Kathryn in two episodes of the comedy series Pastor Greg

Dawn portrayed Annie Hughes in the 2017 television move Life Interrupted, a comedy about a man named Mason Bell, played by Mason Reese.  Mason lives in a studio apartment above a New York City bar, which he owns with his ex-wife.

In 2016, Dawn made a special guest appearance on the  CBS daytime drama, The Bold and the Beautiful.  She portrayed Alice, a wealthy friend of the soap opera's longtime lead character, Eric Forrester, played by John McCook.

In 2018, Dawn made guest-starred on a short-lived TV comedy called Kaplan's Corner, about a group of struggling actors who inherit an employment agency.  Dawn played herself in an episode of the series entitled "Marvin's Ghost" (Season 1, Episode 3, Air Date: October 19, 2018).  

In 2018, Dawn found herself in serious financial trouble due to the medical costs she had incurred from a fall.  A GoFundMe page was set up to help her raise money to deal with her financial woes.  She told Fox News about following comment to a dear friend of hers, who created the page: "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."  

In June of 2020, Dawn's manager divulged in court court documents that the actress was suffering from dementia.  The following December, he died in Los Angeles of causes related to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping California.  Dawn is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells.

In a statement to CNN, Tina Louise paid tribute to her former castmate with these words: 

"I was saddened to hear of Dawn's death.  I will always remember her kindness to me."  

"We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles during this difficult time.  I hope that people will remember her as I do - always with a smile on her face."


On October 27, 1962, Dawn Wells married talent agent Larry Rosen.  The couple divorced in 1967.  They did not have any children.  Dawn never remarried.

* In 1985, Dawn performed in a one-woman show at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas

* In 1999, Dawn appeared in a television commercial for Western Union.

* In May of 2016, Dawn became Marketing Ambassador for the MeTV network, which had started showing reruns of Gilligan's Island.

* The week before her death on December 30, 2020, Dawn recorded a Happy New Year video, which she intended to release on the holiday.

* In addition to being an actress, Dawn Wells was a producer, author and motivational speaker.  She was spokesperson and chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation, founded in 1999 by her cousin, Terry Lee Wells.  The organization serves underprivileged women and children in northern Nevada.  Dawm also ran a film actors boot camp in Driggs, Idaho for many years.  She founded The Dawn Wells'  Film Actors Boot Camp in 1998.  It was designed for already trained actors who are transitioning from amateurs to professionals.  

* On the 50th anniversary of Gilligan's Island, Dawn released A Guide to Life: What Would Mary Ann Do?, in which she analyzed her Mary Ann character and the cultural changes that have occurred since she was on the island.

* Mary Ann's gingham dress and her shorts were exhibited in the lobby of the Hollywood Museum.

SOURCES:  CNN obituary, "Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' dies of Covid-19 complications at 82," by Lisa Respers France, December 30, 2020; Fox News website, "'Gilligan's Island' star Dawn Wells says 'she is grateful' for 'friends and fans who care' while suffering financially," by Stephanie Nolasco, September 7, 2018;  Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Database) 


- Joanne

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Keeping Up With Susan Saint James


"This lovable, large-eyed brunette was a surefire audience pleaser playing somewhat kooky, mildly klutzy and generally free-spirited types on TV, and in the occasional film, since the mid-1960s.  The typical Saint James character was a beautiful innocent who would boldly stumble in where more sober types feared to tread."

- Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Biography 

Susan Saint James is best known for her role as Sally McMillan in the television detective series McMillan & Wife, alongside Rock Hudson.  She is also recognized for her role as Peggy Maxwell in The Name of the Game and Kate McArdle in the sitcom Kate & Allie.

Susan was born Susan Jane Miller in Los Angeles, California on August 14, 1946 to a Connecticut family.  She is the daughter of Charles Daniel Miller (1915-1993), a businessman, and Constance (Geiger) Miller (1915-2011), a teacher.  Susan was raised in Rockford, Illinois, where she began modelling in her teens.  She attended the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois, a private Catholic girls' high school north of Chicago, and later studied at the Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) in New London, Connecticut.

After moving to California, Susan launched her television acting career with a role in the 1966 TV movie Fame is the Name of the Game, starring Tony Framciosa.  This lea to her first television series, The Name of the Game, which debuted in 1968 and was based on the TV movie.

Susan also guest-starred in two 1960s episodes of the detective series Ironside, starring Raymond Burr.  The first episode, "Girl in the Night" (Season 1, Episode 14), aired on December 21, 1967.  The second episode, "Something for Nothing" (Season 1, Episode 22), aired on February 22, 1968.

In 1967, Susan Saint James had a minor role in the pilot for It Takes a Thief.  When It Takes a Thief became a successful crime-caper series (starring Robert Wagner as the suave Alexander Mundy), Susan was cast in the recurring role of Charlene "Charlie" Brown, .Mundy's fellow thief and sometime love interest.  She appeared as Charlene Brown in four episodes from 1968 until 1970. In the early 1970s, she went on to make guest appearances in episodes of McCloud  (1970) and Alias Smith and Jones (1971).

From 1968 to 1971, Susan portrayed editorial assistant Peggy Maxwell in the adventure series The Name of the Game.  The Name of the Game was a groundbreaking series, staring Tony Framciosa, Robert Sack and Gene Barry.  The show was innovative in that it featured independent episodes tied together by one common theme, Howard Publications, the publishing empire of Glen Howard (Gene Barry).  Susan's character, Peggy, provided a common link between the lead characters.  She won an Emmy Award for her role.

Below is a 1969 photo of Susan as research assistant Peggy Maxwell in The Name of the Game.

When The Name of the Game ended, Susan took on her next important role, that of Sally McMillan, the young, crime-fighting wife of San Francisco police commissioner Stuart "Mac" McMillan, played by Rock Hudson.  McMillan & Wife (known as McMillan from 1976 to 1977) aired on NBC from 1971 to 1977.  Although Hudson was old enough to be Susan's father, audiences liked the easy chemistry between them.  

Susan won four Emmy nominations for her role as Sally.  However, due to a contract dispute, Susan left McMillan & Wife in 1976.  The show underwent a major retooling during its sixth and final season and was renamed McMillan.  Susan's character, Sally McMillan, was killed in a plane crash, along with the couple's never-seen son, Mac.

Below is a photo of Susan Saint James and Rock Hudson in their McMillan & Wife days.

After leaving McMillan & Wife, Susan appeared in numerous TV movies including Scott Free (1976), Desperate Women (1978), Night Cries (1978), The Girls in the Office (1979), Sex and the Single Parent (1979), S.O.S. Titanic (1979), The Kid from Nowhere (1982), I Take These Men (1983) and After George (1983).  In the 1980s, Susan made had guest roles on M*A*S*H (1980) and Tattingers's (1989).

From 1984 until 1989, Susan starred in the hit CBS series Kate Allie.  She played free-spirited Kate McArdle in this comedy about two divorced mothers and their children who share an apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village.  Jane Curtin co-starred as Kate's friend, Allie Lowell.

Susan appeared in a 1996 episode of The Drew Carey Show entitled "Drew and Kate and Kate's Mom" (Season 1, Episode 20, Air Date: February 27, 1996).  She portrayed Lynn O'Brien, the mother of Kate O'Brein, who was played by Susan's real life niece Christa Miller.

In the 21st century, Susan continued to appear occasionally in television acting roles.  She guest-starred as defence attorney Monica Bradshaw in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  The episode is entitled "Gone" (Season 7, Episode 16, Air Date; February 28, 2006).  Susan also played Joy McAfferty in a 2011 episode of the comedy/drama Suits entitled "Bail Out (Season 1, Episode 5 (Air Date: July 21, 2011).  Most recently, she had a recurring role as an old woman on some 2020 episodes of Upload, an afterlife comedy/science fiction series on Amazon.

Susan Saint James has been married three times, divorced twice, and has given birth to five children.  On July 8, 1967, at the age of 20, she wed writer-director Richard Neubert.  The marriage only lasted until September of 1968,  In 1971, Susan married for a second time, to Thomas Lucas, a makeup artist.  The couple had a daughter, Sunshine Lucas (born May 6, 1972) and a son, Harmony Lucas (born November 10, 1974).  They divorced in 1977.

On November 21, 1981, Susan wed her third husband, American television director Dick Ebersol.  She met Dick in 1981, when she hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL).   He was the executive producer of SNL at the time.  In March of 2002, Susan filed for divorce from  Ebersol, but the couple reconciled later that year.  Until May of 2011, Dick was chairman of NBC Sports.

Dick Ebersol

Susan and Dick had three sons, Charles (Charlie), William and Edward (Teddy).  Teddy Ebersol, their youngest child, was born on June 10, 1990.  Susan was 43 years old when she gave birth to him.

On November 28, 2004, tragedy struck Susan's family.  A private plane, with Dick and  sons Charlie and Teddy aboard, crashed during an attempted takeoff from Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado.  Dick and Charlie survived but 14-year-old Teddy died, along with the pilot and flight attendant.  Charlie came to the aid of his father, who was under a mile of rubble and was seriously injured.  Unfortunately, Charlie was unable to find his brother.  Twi days after the crash, rescue workers discovered the bodies of Teddy and the two crew members.  Two weeks after the accident, Susan appeared on Today and thanked people for all the love and support given to her family during such a devastating time.


* Susan Saint James is of English, Irish and German ancestry.  She has a brother, Chuck Miller and a sister, Mary Marcedes Dewey.  Her father, the late Charles"Charlie" Miller, appeared as a preacher in a 1985 episode of Kate and Allie entitled "Lovely Rita" (Season 2, Episode 16, Air Date: February 18, 1985.

* Susan had a supporting role in the 1968 film Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, the sequel to 1966's The Trouble with Angels.  She played a trouble-prone, rebellious Catholic high school student,  Susan's other feature fills include Outlaw Blues (1977), in which she co-starred with Peter Fonda,, the vampire comedy Love at First Bite (1979) and the comedy How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), co-starring Jessica Lange Susan's Kate and Allie co-star Jane Curtin.

* In the late 1970s, Susan was briefly engaged to musician Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame.  A month after their engagement ended, Susan told Alan Markfield of the Rockford Morning Star that "our different lifestyles pulled us apart."

* Susan volunteered with the Special Olympics for many years.

* In 2008, Susan Saint. James received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to television. 

SOURCES:  Biography website ( "Susan Saint James;" Son Teddy Who Tragically Died at 14 in Plane Crash,"by Edduin Carvajal, February 1, 2020; Stephen Stills: Change Partners, by David Roberts;, "'McMillan and Wife" Susan Saint James' Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

- Joanne

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Y&R Report (December 11, 2021): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet.  Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance

Hi fans,

First, a note to readers: I am going to take a short Christmas break.  I will be back in the New Year.  My Y&R column will return to this space on Saturday, January 8, 2022.  

Now that Abby (Melissa Ordway) and Chance (Conner Floyd) have reunited, don't expect everything to go smoothly for them.  Y&R is not a fairytale.  It's a soap and soaps have few "happily ever after" stories - unless the couple involved is leaving town or the show.  Kyle and Summer are a prime example.  They got married and began a new life in Italy.  However, if they ever return to Genoa City, you can be sure that they will encounter some serious difficulties and they will likely break up.  In the  case of Abby and Chance, there are already dark clouds on the horizon.  Chance is experiencing deep emotional problems as a result of his ordeal in Spain. He's not having an easy time adjusting to life back in Genoa City.  Devon and Mariah are still very much in the picture. They are not going to give up their attachment to Dominic.  Mariah has been pretending that she is not so obsessed with "Bowie."  However, it is obvious by the expressions on her face that she wants to be a mother to the child.  As for Devon, he has developed a deep bond with Dominic and really enjoyed playing daddy when Abby was in Spain.  We all know that there will be trouble ahead.

In her recent interview with JLJ Media, Melissa Ordway made it clear that she doesn't expect Chance and Abby to just pick up where they left off before Chance took off on his mission to save the world..  "I'm not sure how that's going to go," she said.  "I think its going to be a lot more dramatic than, 'Hey, you're back.  Cool!  We're in love again, we're gonna raise this baby and its gonna be happily ever after.'"

Now that Abby and Chance's baby has been mentioned, let me just say is that I'm so glad that they have finally cast a real child in the role of Dominic, just in time for Chance's return.  The Blanket Baby is gone forever.  Thank heaven and good riddance!  By the way, the human baby is very cute.

So, now we know why Victor Newman doesn't like Billy Abbott.  He thinks Billy's had it too easy, that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  Victor is proud of the fact hat he scratched and clawed his way to success in business.  He was sent to an orphanage and worked hard to make something of himself.  However, I think Victor is too judgmental where Billy Boy is concerned.  He should be reminded that his own children were also born with silver spoons in their mouths and a sense of entitlement.  The only exception is Adam, who was raised in more humble surroundings on Hope's farm in Kansas.

As for Adam Newman, it seems to me that he is reverting to the old Adam.  What has happened to the new and improved Adam?  As Billy pointed out, he's still holding grudges.  It must be Victor's influence because he's been working so closely with his ruthless father.

I hope that they get Amanda's sister, Imani, into a good storyline.  I also hope that the writers will eventually create a good triangle involving her and Dr. Nate and Elena.  Speaking of triangles, it looks like there's one involving Noah and Tessa and Mariah.  You can see how Mariah is eying Tessa and Noah and how Noah is eying Maria and Tessa.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

So, Ashland Locke has received good news about his cancer treatments.  That's not surprising.  Don't expect him to die anytime soon.  Richard Burgi, who plays Ashland,  is too popular with fans,  He's not going anywhere right now.

Why did Jack put the breaks on his relationship with Phyllis?  Is he really afraid that she will hurt him again or is there some other reason?   Is Phyllis really going to accept Jack's decision so easily?  Why isn't Phyllis scheming to get him back?  When has she ever been known to behave in such a mature manner?

It was great to see Kate Linder (Esther Valentine) back on camera.  Kate was hospitalized after an injury she incurred while taking care of her elderly mother.  As a result, Esther hadn't been seen in a while.  She told Sharon that she had been busy looking after her grandchildren, Bell and Miles, while Kevin and Chloe worked.  Good to see you again, Kate!

Kate Linder


Christian LeBlanc celebrates 30 years on Y&R

Christian LeBlanc has just celebrated 30 years of portraying Genoa City lawyer Michael Baldwin on The Young and the Restless.  To celebrate this landmark anniversary, Y&R will air a special episode dedicated to him in January of 2022.

Sasha Calle (Lola Rosales) has left Y&R for now

Genoa City is going to miss Lola's famous chicken soup.  When Lola left for Miami, it was only supposed to be a temporary move.  Now we know       that she's staying there because she's  found her dream job in Florida.  Abby was left high and dry and had to find a new chef to replace Lola at Society.  So, Lola is gone.  Oh well, she didn't have much of a storyline anyway.  She was just cutting vegetables in the kitchen and giving advice to her roommate, Elena.

The truth is that Sasha Calle, who played Lola, has taken on the role of Supergirl in the upcoming movie The Flash.  She is the first Latina to play the part of Supergirl.

It is not known whether Sasha will return to Y&R,  Her departure means that Jordi Vilasuso, who plays Lola's brother, Rey, is the only member of the Rosales family still on the show.


Cooner Floyd (Chance)

Fans, now that you've seen the new Chance, Conner Floyd, what is your initial reaction to him?  Are you impressed?  Do you think he is a good actor?  Does he suit the part?  Does he have good chemistry with Abby (Melissa Ordway)?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you like the new Chance? Are you impressed with him? free polls


I need your feedback.  If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name.  I really need your input.  I really need to hear your opinion.  I want to know if you agree or disagree with me. 

My email address:

That's all for now.  A Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the season.  Have a good one and I will back in the New Year.  I'm looking forward to watching Y&R during the holidays.  See you in next year.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, January 8, 2022.

All the best in the New Year.

Take care,


Friday, December 3, 2021

Jeopardy to hold Professors Tournament

Hey, Jeopardy! fans, from December 6 to December 17, the show will hold its first-ever Professors Tournament.  The tournament will be hosted by Mayim Byalik.  15 college and university professors from across the United States will test their knowledge for a chance at $100,000. The competition will be styled in a similar fashion to the show's popular Tournament of Champions.  The winner of the Professors rounds will earn a spot in the 2022 Tournament of Champions contest.  

The first match on December 6 will feature Hester Blum, Professor of English at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania,  She will compete against Gautan Hans, associate clinical professor of law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and Gary Hollis, professor of chemistry at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

Hester Blum

Gautan Hans

Gary Hollis

I am really looking forward to this tournament.  It will be a Christmastime treat for me.  I hope you will enjoy it too.

- Joanne