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The waning days of 2020 claimed a woman near and dear to the hearts of many here in the Twin Cities.

Dawn Wells, best known as Mary Ann Summers on the 1960s TV hit "Gilligan's Island," died of COVID-19 related complications Wednesday at the age of 82 at a care facility in Los Angeles.

Many have fond memories of her from watching the series, which still plays to this day in syndication. Her wholesome Kansas farm girl was in sharp contrast to co-star Tina Louise's character of the glamorous starlet Ginger Grant.

But here in the two Texarkanas she was known for her role as Helen Reed in Charles B. Pierce's 1976 film "The Town That Dreaded Sundown," loosely based on the 1946 Phantom killings.

Wells spent several days filming here. And everyone who met found her most king and gracious, happy to chat with fans.

It was exactly the image she projected on screen.

She played in another of Pierce's films, the 1975 Native American drama "Winterhawk." And she also starred in another movie with loose ties to our area, "Return to Boggy Creek," a sort of unofficial sequel to Pierce's "The Legend of Boggy Creek" about the Bigfoot-like monster said to lurk in the Sulphur River bottoms near Fouke, Ark.

Over the years, Wells had a varied career. She appeared in several films and TV series, as well as on stage and in Las Vegas. She wrote a "Gilligan's Island"-themed cookbook and her autobiography. And she was very active in charities that aided the disabled.

Dawn Wells could always make an audience smile. She will be missed.

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