Tina Louise – So Much More Than Just a Pretty Face!
Icons | September 28, 2017
We all remember Tina Louise as ‘Ginger Grant’ on “Gilligan’s Island”, but do you really know what she did before or after the sitcom?
Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker aka Tina Louise was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1934, her father owned a candy store and was an accountant, her mother was a fashion model. After her parent’s divorce, her last name became Myers. She attended a posh high school, so to fit in with the rich girls there, she added the name Louise so her name was longer like her classmates.
After high school she went to acting school and did modeling jobs to pay the bills. She was billed as “Hollywood’s Fastest Rising Star” with Jayne Mansfield in Frederick’s Catalog back in 1958 and was in Playboy magazine. She had another connection to Jayne Mansfield, as Jayne turned down the role as ‘Ginger Grant’ so Tina got the role instead. The same year she was also named “The World’s Most Beautiful Redhead”. Her Hollywood debut was in “God’s Little Acre” which was also in 1958, she received a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.
Before “Gilligan’s Island”, Bob Denver and Louise co-starred in a summer surf film, “For Those Who Think Young”. This teen beach movie also featured Nancy Sinatra and Ellen Burstyn. In 1964 she was in a hit Broadway musical called “Fade Out–Fade In” with Carol Burnett, which received a Tony nomination. She also had a role in “The Real McCoys”.
Although she got the role of ‘Ginger Grant’ in 1964, she was unhappy with the character and worried that she would be typecast as a sex symbol. It did make her a pop icon of that era, and in 2005 she was ranked second only to Heather Locklear as the greatest of TV’s all-time sex symbols. After the series ended in 1967, she made guest appearances on TV series, soap operas and continued to make films. She declined to be a part of the three reunion TV films for “Gilligan’s Island” with the rest of the cast, blaming the show for ruining her career as a dramatic actress.
Louise was married to radio and TV announcer/interviewer Les Crane from 1966 to 1974. They had one daughter, Caprice Crane (born in 1970), who became an MTV producer and a writer. Tina is also an accomplished writer of children’s books and is an advocate for improving child literacy. She donated a portion of the proceeds of her 2007 book, “When I Grow Up”, to literacy programs and has been volunteering at local public schools since 1996.
She was in the original 1975 version of “The Stepford Wives” and had a role in Brad Pitt’s first headlining film by David Lynch called “Johnny Suede” that also starred Samuel Jackson.
The multi-talented actress has been in theater, European film, a jazz singer, writer, model, along with guest roles on hit series like Dallas and Kojak and was a designer (she designed a parasol in the early 1990’s). She’s a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the Actors Studio. She is quoted as saying, “The best movie you’ll ever be in is your own life because that’s what matters in the end.”