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e-Briefing | Celebrity Setup

From Lagoon to Log-On

April 05, 2001

Dawn Wells, known to most as Mary Ann, is no Professor, but she can find her way through an online three-hour tour.

To the eternal question--Ginger or Mary Ann?--there is now at least a partial answer. Mary Ann has a Web site.

Actress Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on one of television's most famous sitcoms, "Gilligan's Island," uses her island on the Internet ( to promote her many businesses--acting workshops, a cookbook, a clothing line for the disabled and "Gilligan" knockoffs, such as denim shorts designed after the ones she wore on the show.

A former Miss Nevada, Wells appeared on the sitcom from 1963-67, followed by guest stints on other programs, several theater roles and a few TV movies, including "Rescue From Gilligan's Island," "Castaways on Gilligan's Island" and "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island." She even did a fishing show, "Dawn Wells' Reel Adventures."

Wells lives in the San Fernando Valley and on a ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyo.

DESKTOP: I have an IBM Aptiva. About five years ago when I was doing the fishing show all over the world, the producer had a computer, and I was just fascinated. He was e-mailing Vancouver all the time and playing solitaire on the plane, and I decided I had to have one.

I use it at home for my office work, especially for the Film Actor's Boot Camp acting intensives I run every year at the ranch in Wyoming. We keep records on all the students.

You have to be organized, especially in this business that is so spontaneous. You never know from one week to the next where you'll be.

I've been learning QuickBooks for the merchandising. It's complex for me--all this computer work--but I found that if someone shows me how to do something, then I'm OK. Now I can look on the computer and see we have 22 T-shirts left in a certain size, and that's exciting.

The other day, I was going to make an airline reservation that would take at least four stops. I sat down at the computer, and it took me about three hours to get the flights. If I had just called the travel agent it would have taken me 10 minutes. But I was proud of myself, and the next time it won't take me so long.

I figure that at this stage of life, new technology is moving so fast that if you don't catch up, you're going to miss it.

Q. Who designed your Web site?

Isn't it nice? It was designed by Dreama Denver, Bob's wife. [Bob Denver played Gilligan]. She also designed Bob's site and the Professor's [Russell Johnson].

LAPTOP: An IBM ThinkPad that I like, except I don't like the little mouse thing. It's too hard to manipulate. I use it mostly for e-mail, but I'm not a great typist. As a matter of fact, sometimes I have to say, "I'm sorry it seems like I'm shouting because I'm typing in caps, but please bear with me." I'm always in a hurry, and it takes too much time to correct something I've written. When I have important letters to send out, I'll e-mail them to my assistant and she'll type them and send them out.

You know what was exciting to me? I have a high school reunion coming up, and we found each other through e-mail.

HAND-HELD: I had a Sharp pocket organizer, but when that went on the fritz about three years ago, a salesman talked me into getting a Palm. I thought it would be good because, not being a good typist, I could use the little writing pad. I had one of my computer people show me how to use it and then took it with me on a trip, and I never used it again. It was the writing that was the problem. You had to make the letters in a certain way. I don't need to learn another alphabet.

BOOKMARKED SITES: [She calls her assistant.] Lisa, could you help me with this? I still don't know how to look them up, but she's a whiz at this. I use Amazon a lot, and MapQuest, and I go to the "Gilligan's Island" Fan Club []. There's also the Elephant Sanctuary ( that I support and Blue Mountain electronic greeting cards.

SCREEN SAVER: What's a screen saver? [Lisa explains.] Oh. I like the clouds we put on. I don't like the fish flying around or the one that looks like a golf course.

CELL PHONE: When I was doing the fishing show, I was in Iceland, and they were far ahead of us on this. The guide not only had a cell phone, he had a fax machine in his Jeep. I use one now because, as much as I travel, it helps economically. I have one of those plans where you can call from anywhere, all the time.

FAVORITE TECH TOY: I did a musical called "Nutcrackers" in Detroit, and one of the members of the band had this little e-mail thing that was only about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. It's from Sharp, and I got one to do my e-mail on the road. It's a lot easier than carrying around the laptop.

HOME THEATER: Nothing major, just regular televisions. I didn't even get a CD player until the Christmas before last. And then several months after that, I thought, "I don't know how to use this." I couldn't figure out how to get the little disc into it. [She laughs.] Those things don't concern me much. I just turn on the radio.

--As told to DAVID COLKER

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