It is with great sadness that I need to report about the passing this week of American actress Dawn Wells. Ms. Wells is most famous for playing “Mary Ann Summers” on the legendary 1960s TV comedy program Gilligan’s Island.
Boxers or Briefs? Football or Baseball? Mary Ann or Ginger? These were questions posed to men in my generation used to gage what kind of a guy you are. I am definitely in the “Mary Ann” choice (that is, if I can’t have both). The late Ms. Wells played the pretty “girl-next-door” persona perfectly. A generation of adolescent boys grew up in love with the Mary Ann from Kansas. Millions of us were in love with her. Her “short shorts” were a good point of discussion for teenage boys. Sure, we teenage wannabes wanted to have our fun with the Gingers, but we wanted to marry a Mary Ann.
Years later, while listening to Marshall Crenshaw’s Mary Ann song, I was reminded of the youthful beauty of Ms. Wells, and I would always slip into a reverie …
I know the song lyrics do not describe the Gilligan’s situation, but I could stretch my fantasy a little. What if Mary Ann(e) was my girlfriend? I know that there is the extra “e”, in Crenshaw’s fantasy-girl, but I think what the song captures the impossible, unrequited longing of a young boy in love with this everyday-encountered-but-impossible-to-reach girl next door. Also, thinkin’ about those “short shorts” is part of the nostalgic mood of the song.
Here are the guitar chords if you want to learn the song.
More importantly — Please enjoy this gallery of Mary Ann moments:
She was a great comedian and a great, life affirming woman. I drink a toast to you dear lady …