‘GILLIGAN’S ISLAND’ STAR DAWN WELLS DIES, COVID-19 CITED
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Dawn Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” has died. Her publicist says Wells died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles of causes related to COVID-19. Besides TV, film and stage acting credits, her other real-life roles included teacher and motivational speaker. Born in Reno, Nevada, Wells represented her state in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. Her early TV roles came on shows including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick” and “Bonanza.” Then came “Gilligan’s Island,” a goofy, good-natured show that became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture. Dawn Wells was 82 years old.
TINA LOUISE PAYS TRIBUTE TO DAWN WELLS
LOS ANGELES (AP) – With the death of Dawn Wells, Tina Louise is now the last surviving member of the cast of “Gilligan’s Island.” Louise, who is 86, says she will always remember Wells’ kindness. Louise says she hopes people will remember Wells the way she does — “always with a smile on her face.” Wells died yesterday of causes related to COVID-19. She was 82.
AFTER A YEAR LIKE THIS, EXPECT A STRANGE NEW YEAR’S EVE
NEW YORK (AP) – If ever a year’s end seemed like cause for celebration, 2020 might be it. Yet the coronavirus scourge that dominated the year is also looming over New Year’s festivities and forcing officials worldwide to tone them down. From New York’s Times Square to Sydney Harbor, the pandemic is turning big public blowouts into TV-only shows and digital events. Fireworks displays have been canceled, including on the Las Vegas Strip and at the Arc de Triomphe in curfew-bound Paris. Private parties are restricted in some places, too. The occasion stirs mixed feelings for some people whose sense of joy at the year’s end is muted by its sorrows and the ongoing pandemic.
MORGAN FREEMAN REMEMBERS PRINCIPAL JOE LOUIS CLARK
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Morgan Freeman is paying his respects to Joe Louis Clark, the principal Freeman portrayed in the 1989 film “Lean on Me.” Clark died at his Florida home on Tuesday after an unspecified illness, according to his family. He was 82. Freeman says Clark “was a father figure to school kids” and “the best of the best in terms of education.” Clark was famous for his unorthodox methods like carrying a bullhorn or a baseball bat as he patrolled the halls of Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey.
SPEEDY SIR: LEWIS HAMILTON KNIGHTED IN YEAR-END ROYAL HONORS
LONDON (AP) – Lewis Hamilton is now a “Sir” as well as a seven-time Formula One champion. Hamilton received a knighthood Wednesday as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s honors list, which also recognized British performers, politicians, public servants and people outside the limelight who worked to defeat the coronavirus and its devastating impacts. Veteran comic actress Sheila Hancock and acclaimed makeup artist Pat McGrath were made dames, the female equivalent of knights. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, a 15-time Academy Award nominee who has won Oscars for “Blade Runner 2049″ and ”1917,” was made a knight. Actress Lesley Manville, an Oscar nominee for “Phantom Thread,” was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE. Actor Toby Jones, whose credits include voicing the character of Dobby in two “Harry Potter” movies, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE.