Tina Louise played the part of Ginger Grant on the CBS-TV series "Gilligan's Island."
|Born:||February 11, 1934|
|Birthplace:||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Also known for:||"Gilligan's Island"|
|Character played:||Ginger Grant/Eva Grubb|
Tina Louise is an American actress, singer, and author, best known for "Gilligan's Island."
She was born Tina Blacker on February 11, 1934, an only child in New York City to a Jewish family. The name "Louise" was allegedly added during her senior year in high school when she mentioned to her drama teacher that she was the only girl in the class without a middle name. He selected the name "Louise" and it stuck.
She attended Miami University in Ohio where she began studying acting, singing and dancing, taking acting classes under Sanford Meisner at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. She also dabbled in modeling between acting roles, appearing on the covers of several pin-up magazines such as Adam, Sir! and Modern Man with later pictorials presented to Playboy by Columbia Pictures studio in an effort to further promote her career.
Her acting debut came in 1952 in the musical revue, Two's Company, followed by roles in other Broadway productions, such as "John Murray Anderson's Almanac" "The Fifth Season," and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?". During the 1950's, she appeared in such early live television dramas as "Studio One," "Producers' Showcase" and "Appointment with Adventure" while concurrently appearing on Broadway. As a singer, she released one album, "It's Time for Tina," which was released originally on Concert Hall in 1957 and later reissued on Urania Records in 1958, the same year as her Hollywood film debut was in "God's Little Acre." ,br> The National Art Council named her the "World's Most Beautiful Redhead." She became an in-demand leading lady for major stars like Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark and Robert Ryan, later turning down roles in the film versions of "Li'l Abner" and "Operation Petticoat" to take roles on Broadway and in Italian cinema. When she returned to the United States, she began studying with Lee Strasberg and became a member of the Actors Studio. She appeared in the TV show, "The Real McCoys," and the 1964 beach party film, "For Those Who Think Young" with Bob Denver, prior to the development of "Gilligan's Island."
While she was staring in the Broadway musical, "Fade Out, Fade In," she was called to star as the role of Ginger Grant in Gilligan's Island, after the part was turned down by Jayne Mansfield. It is believed her agent at the time might have lied to her about the importance of her role to get her to take the job. She also reportedly said in a magazine interview that working on TV was nothing compared to real acting. Publically, it became known she was unhappy with the role and worried that it would typecast her, but she remained cordial to her co-stars. The character did make her a pop icon of the era, and after the series ended in 1967, Louise continued to work in film, such as "The Wrecking Crew" in 1969 with Dean Martin and the original TV movie, "Stepford Wives," in 1975.
After the show ended, Tina Louise gradually began to dislike her role as Ginger Grant, and after the series ended, tried to distance herself from the role as much as possible. Reportedly, she actually disliked much of her role while the series was filming, finding the premise of the show outlandish and silly, and even according to some sources, had hoped the show would fail. Her backstage demands caused some tension between the cast and became tabloid fodder. Considering herself more as a serious actress, she preferred portraying more dramatic roles in movies and television. She fervently believed that the show hurt her career as a dramatic actress and consequently refused to participate in future Gilligan projects, including the animated spin-offs and television specials.
During her time on "Gilligan's Island," she was romanced by and ultimately married radio and TV announcer/interviewer Les Crane, whom she divorced in 1974. They had one daughter, Caprice Crane in 1970, who became an MTV producer and a novelist. Tina went on to make numerous guest appearances in various television series, including "Kojak" "Dallas" and "Married With Children," as well as the TV films, "Nightmare in Badham County," "Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby," "SST: Death Flight" and "Friendships, Secrets and Lies."
In 1978, Tina was asked to reprise her role as Ginger in Rescue from Gilligan's Island, a choice she went through some soul-searching on. Eventually, her choice came down to deciding to ultimately reunite with the cast, but when she tried opting a high salary, it was determined she wanted too much money, and she was ultimately recast. The role was recast with actress Judith Baldwin, who reportedly beat out actress Cassandra Peterson, TV's "Elvira, The Mistress of the Dark." Later, Tina publicly never spoke of "Gilligan's Island" except to say it was a fun series to work on, but her supporters point out that she always speaks very little on her old acting projects and instead on her current work as well as her charities.
Tina did make brief walk-on appearances on a few talk shows and specials for "Gilligan's Island" reunions, such as "Good Morning America" in 1982, "The Late Show" in 1988 and the 2004 TV Land Awards. In the Nineties, she was reunited with costars Bob Denver, Dawn Wells, and Russell Johnson in an episode of Roseanne, later choosing not to reunite with them for the television film Surviving Gilligan's Island, co-produced by Dawn Wells, where she was portrayed by actress Kristen Dalton.
With Denver's passing in 2005, Louise wrote a brief, affectionate memorial to him in the year-end "farewell" issue of Entertainment Weekly. She went on to star in the syndicated serial "Rituals," in 1985, "O.C. and Stiggs" and the independent "Johnny Suede" with Brad Pitt. Now living in New York City, Louise became a volunteer teacher at Learning Leaders, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing tutoring to New York City school children. It has been her passion to help young students gain not only literary skills, but also confidence, self-determination and proof of their own potential. She has written two books, "Sunday: A Memoir" and "When I Grow Up," a children's book that inspires children to believe they can become whatever they choose. She published a second children's book, "What Does a Bee Do?" She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the Actors Studio.
With the death of "Gilligan's Island" co-star Dawn Wells in 2020, Tina Louise is the last surviving cast member from the show.