Tina Louise

Active - 1958 - 2019  |   Born - Feb 11, 1934 in New York, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Action, Drama, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

"Titian-haired" is the manner in which actress Tina Louise is usually described. Despite her numerous comic performances, she prefers to be regarded as a serious actress; according to some of her co-workers, her preference in this manner often takes the form of an ultimatum. Louise was born near Brooklyn, where her father ran a candy store. She studied drama at Miami University, the Neighborhood Playhouse, and the Actors' Studio. A nightclub singer in the mid-1950s, Louise came to Broadway as Appasionatta von Climax in the original 1956 production of the musical Li'l Abner. Two years later she made her first film, the then-torrid God's Little Acre.

By the early 1960s, Louise was shuttling between Hollywood and Europe, often appearing in productions of the shoestring variety. Louise is fondly remembered for her three-year (1964 through 1967) stint as Marilynesque movie star Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island, though she despised the role and made no secret of it on the set. Nor did she wish to have anything to do with the Gilligan cartoon and TV movie follow-ups of the 1970s and 1980s, choosing instead to carve a reputation as a versatile, no-nonsense actress, though she eventually capitulated and appeared in The Castaways on Gilligan's Island. Though she would go on to make other film and TV appearances in the decades to come, even penning a children's book and earning her helicopter pilot's license, Louise would forever remain the most well known for the role of Ginger.

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  • Launched career as model and nightclub singer while studying at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and the Actors Studio, both in New York City.
  • Made her Broadway debut in the 1952 Bette Davis musical revue Two's Company.
  • Appeared on Broadway with Julie Newmar in 1957's hit musical Li'l Abner; released an album that same year, titled It's Time for Tina.
  • Landed on the cover of Modern Man Magazine in July of 1957; appeared in Playboy magazine in 1957, '58 and '59. 
  • Studied with Lee Strasberg and became a member of the Actors Studio.
  • Landed the role of Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island while starring on Broadway in the play Fade Out, Fade In.
  • Disassociated herself from Gilligan after it ended, opting out of participating in the Gilligan cartoon and various specials during the 1970s and '80s.
  • Had a guest-starring role alongside her Gilligan's Island costars Dawn Wells, Bob Denver and Russell Johnston on a 1995 episode of Roseanne.
  • Is a licensed helicopter pilot.
  • Published a book about her experiences, Sunday: A Memoir, in 1997.
  • Authored a children's book in 2007 titled When I Grow Up, with the objective of inspiring more kids to read and achieve their goals.