‘Gilligan’s Island’: Dawn Wells Said Show Was Cancelled for ‘Gunsmoke’ Due to Wife of CBS Exec

There is a long list of shows that thousands of people wish could have continued. Gilligan’s Island is certainly one of those shows. However, after only three seasons, the show was canceled.

The abrupt cancelation of Gilligan’s Island came as a shock to almost all of the show’s fans. More importantly, it came as a shock to many of the actors as well. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers, was especially bummed about the show ending so quickly.

Wells was one of the seven main characters on the show. The show was her big break in Hollywood, growing her name exponentially as a result.

According to the Gilligan’s Island actress, the show came to an end so that Gunsmoke could continue. In an interview from 2013 with Esquire, she gave her take about why the show ended.

“What happened was Gunsmoke was canceled, and we were moved into their time slot. Mrs. Paley—the wife of the board chairman—had been on vacation when Gunsmoke was canceled, and when she got home, she said, ‘You can’t cancel Gunsmoke. It’s my favorite show.’ So they canceled us.”

“Gilligan’s Island” Ended Only To Allow Another Show to Keep Going

So, according to Wells, the iconic Gilligan’s Island came to an end because an executive’s wife liked Gunsmoke better. The Western television show had already been going for twelve seasons in 1967.

Unfortunately, there were many storylines that Gilligan’s Island did not get to explore. Meanwhile, Gunsmoke ran for another eight seasons. So, even though the tropical island sitcom was abruptly cut, at least the CBS executive didn’t make an egregious mistake.

After wrapping up season three, Dawn Wells and the rest of the cast expected to continue filming. CBS had scheduled and bought a fourth season. “Gilligan the Goddess” was not intended to be the series finale, so it was a shock to almost everyone involved.

But, Gunsmoke wasn’t able to get a time slot. Many sources corroborate Wells and tell the same story that Gilligan’s Island was canceled in favor of the Western show.

It didn’t affect how much Dawn Wells’ character was beloved by everyone who watched the show though. In the Gilligan’s Island actress’s own words, “Maybe the reason people love Mary Ann so much is they’re trying to hold on to what was.”

Fans of the show will never get to know how long it could have run. Nonetheless, Gilligan’s Island still has a cult-like following today.

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