This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gilligan’s Island, and star Dawn Wells is celebrating another kind of milestone: being the first person on television to wear short shorts.
Wells, 75, who played the sexy but wholesome Mary Ann Summers in the CBS sitcom, said she wore skimpy shorts on the show to make herself look more elongated next to her much taller cast members.
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“Ginger was very tall and everyone else was over six feet tall,’ she said in a recent interview on Yahoo’s The Yo Show. “So how do you make yourself look more long-legged?…The wardrobe girl and I slanted it…and I kind of dipped the sides and brought the sides of the shorts up so my legs would look longer.”
“I have them and I have the little top that went with them,” she said, adding that although many collectors would love to own the first short shorts ever worn on TV (“The Smithsonian’s very interested in them”), she says she won’t be selling them anytime soon.
They’re a special memento from a once-in-a-lifetime role that still holds a special place in her heart.
“It’s really something that there’s been a show that’s been on the air, this is 50 years. Fifty years of laughter and love where the cast that loves each other…It means a lot, it does.”
She also mused on why she got the most fan mail out of the entire Gilligan’s Island cast.
“I got the most fan mail because I think little boys don’t sit down and write to Gilligan. Little girls [would] write, I love you Mary Ann and I wish I were with you. I think Mary Ann is your best friend, whether boy or a girl. I think Ginger was kind of unattainable. It might have been the short shorts. The first time ever on television! I had to cover my navel; that did it right there.”
Apart from the short shorts, though, she said Mary Ann’s character appealed to many fans....