Tina Louise

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Tina Louise
Tina Louise 1964.JPG
Louise in 1964
Born Tina Blacker
(1934-02-11) February 11, 1934 (age 87)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer, author
Years active 1952–2004, 2014–present
Spouse(s) Les Crane (m. 1966; div. 1971)
Children Caprice Crane

Tina Louise (born Tina Blacker; February 11, 1934) is an American actress, singer, and author. She began her career on stage during mid-1950s, before landing her breakthrough role in 1958 drama film God's Little Acre for which she received Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

Louise had starring roles in a number of Hollywood movies, including The Trap, The Hangman, Day of the Outlaw, and For Those Who Think Young. From 1964 to 1967, she starred as the movie star Ginger Grant in the CBS television situation comedy, Gilligan's Island. Louise later returned to film, appearing in The Wrecking Crew, The Happy Ending, and The Stepford Wives.

Early life

Tina Louise was born Tina Blacker in New York City. An only child, she was raised by her mother, Betty Horn (née Myers) Blacker (1916–2011), a fashion model. Tina's father, Joseph Blacker, was a candy store owner in Brooklyn[1][2] and later an accountant.[3] 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.[2] She attended Miami University in Ohio.[4]


Early work

At the early age of just two years, Tina got her first role, after being seen in an ad for her father's candy store. She played numerous roles until she decided it was best to focus on school work. By the age of 17, Louise began studying acting, singing and dancing. She studied acting under Sanford Meisner at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. During her early acting years, she was offered modeling jobs, including as a rising starlet, who along with Jayne Mansfield, was a product advocate in the 1958 Frederick's of Hollywood catalog, and appeared on the cover of several pinup magazines such as Adam, Sir! and Modern Man. Her later pictorials for Playboy (May 1958; April 1959) were arranged by Columbia Pictures studio in an effort to further promote the young actress.[citation needed]

File:Gene Barry Tina Louise 1964.JPG
Louise with Gene Barry from the television series Burke's Law (1964).

Her acting debut came in 1952 in the Bette Davis musical revue Two's Company,[4] followed by roles in other Broadway productions, such as John Murray Anderson's Almanac, The Fifth Season, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? She appeared in such early live television dramas as Studio One, Producers' Showcase, and Appointment with Adventure. In 1957, she appeared on Broadway in the hit musical Li'l Abner. Her album, It's Time for Tina, was released that year, with songs such as "Embraceable You" and "I'm in the Mood for Love".[citation needed]

Hollywood and Gilligan's Island

Louise made her Hollywood film debut in 1958 in God's Little Acre. That same year, the National Art Council named her the "World's Most Beautiful Redhead."[5] She became an in-demand leading lady for major stars like Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark and Robert Ryan, often playing somber roles quite unlike the glamorous pinup photographs and Playboy pictorials she had become famous for in the late 1950s. She turned down roles in Li'l Abner and Operation Petticoat[6] taking roles on Broadway and in Italian cinema and Hollywood. Among her more notable Italian film credits was the historical epic Garibaldi (1960), directed by Roberto Rossellini, that concerned Garibaldi's efforts to unify the Italian states in 1860. When Louise returned to the United States, she began studying with Lee Strasberg[7] and eventually became a member of the Actors Studio.[8][9] She appeared in a 1962 episode of The Real McCoys, the Walter Brennan sitcom, and in the 1964 beach party film For Those Who Think Young, with Bob Denver, prior to the development of Gilligan's Island.

In 1964, she left the Broadway musical Fade Out – Fade In to portray movie star Ginger Grant on the situation comedy Gilligan's Island, after the part was turned down by Jayne Mansfield. However, she was unhappy with the role and worried that it would typecast her. The role did make Louise a pop icon of the era, and in 2005 an episode of TV Land Top Ten ranked her as second only to Heather Locklear as the greatest of television's all-time sex symbols.

After the series ended in 1967, Louise continued to work in film and made numerous guest appearances in various television series. She appeared in the Matt Helm spy spoof The Wrecking Crew (1969) with Dean Martin. Louise played a doomed suburban housewife in the original The Stepford Wives (1975), and both the film and her performance were well received.

She attempted to shed her comedic image by assaying grittier roles, including a guest appearance as a heroin addict in a 1974 Kojak episode, as well as a co-starring role as an Southern prison guard in the 1976 ABC-TV Movie Nightmare in Badham County. Her other television films of the period included Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby (1976), SST: Death Flight (1977), Friendships, Secrets and Lies (1979), and in the prime-time soap opera Dallas, during the 1978–79 seasons, as J.R. Ewing's secretary, Julie Grey, a semi-regular character. Her character was finally killed off. In the fall of 1984, she replaced Jo Ann Pflug as Taylor Chapin on the syndicated soap opera Rituals after Pflug refused to do love scenes with co-star George Lazenby due to her religious beliefs. After a few months, however, Louise did not renew her own contract and the character was written out. She later made cameo appearances on the network daytime soaps Santa Barbara and All My Children.

The question "Ginger or Mary Ann?" is considered a classic pop-psychological question when given to American men of a certain age as an insight into their characters, or at least their desires as regarding certain female stereotypes. With the January 2014 death of Gilligan's Island co-star Russell Johnson, Louise and actress Dawn Wells are the only two surviving cast members of the original sitcom. Louise is quoted as saying, "The best movie you'll ever be in is your own life because that's what matters in the end."[10]

Later work

Louise declined to participate in any of three reunion television films for Gilligan's Island. Despite maintaining an adequate career after the show's run, she kept claiming that the show actually ruined her career. The role of Ginger was recast with Judith Baldwin and Constance Forslund. Although she did not appear in these television movies, she made brief walk-on appearances on a few talk shows and specials for Gilligan's Island reunions, including Good Morning America (1982), The Late Show (1988) and the 2004 TV Land award show with the other surviving cast members. In the 1990s, she was reunited with costars Bob Denver, Dawn Wells, and Russell Johnson in an episode of Roseanne.[4] She did not reunite with them for the television film Surviving Gilligan's Island (2001), co-produced by Wells. She was portrayed by Kristen Dalton in the television film.[11] Her relations with series star Denver were rumored to be strained, but in 2005, she wrote a brief, affectionate memorial to him in the year-end "farewell" issue of Entertainment Weekly.[12]

Later film roles included a co-starring appearance in the Robert Altman comedy O.C. and Stiggs (1987) as well as the independently made satire Johnny Suede (1992) starring Brad Pitt. She appeared in Married... with Children as Miss Beck in episode "Kelly Bounces Back" (1990). In 2014 Louise starred in the spiritual drama, Tapestry and the horror film Late Phases.[13][14]

File:Tina Louise In The Happy Ending.JPG
Louise In The Happy Ending (1969)


Louise made one record album, It's Time for Tina, which was released originally on Concert Hall in 1957 (Concert Hall 1521), and later reissued on Urania Records (1958 and 1959 respectively).[15] The album is sought after by collectors.[citation needed] With arrangements by Jim Timmens and Buddy Weed's Orchestra, 12 tracks include "Tonight Is the Night" and "I'm in the Mood for Love." Coleman Hawkins is featured on tenor sax. The album has been reissued on CD twice, most recently on the UK label Harkit Records.[16] The album was released on iTunes in 2012. She also recorded for United Artists Records[17] but recorded just one single for that label in 1958.[18]

Personal life

From 1966 to 1974, Louise was married to radio and TV announcer/interviewer Les Crane, with whom she has one daughter, Caprice Crane (born 1970), who became an MTV producer and a novelist. Crane's first novel, Stupid and Contagious, was published in 2006, and was warmly dedicated to her mother.

Louise now resides in New York City. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the Actors Studio.[19] Louise has been a vocal advocate for improving child literacy. She donated a portion of the proceeds of her 2007 book, When I Grow Up, to literacy programs and said in a 2013 interview that she had been volunteering at local public schools since 1996.[19][20] She has written three books including Sunday: A Memoir (1997) and When I Grow Up (2007).[4] The latter is a children's book that inspires children to believe they can become whatever they choose through creative and humorous comparisons of animal kingdom achievements.[citation needed] She published a second children's book titled What Does a Bee Do?[21]



Year Film Role Notes
1958 God's Little Acre Griselda Walden Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
Laurel Award for Best Female Supporting Performance (5th place)
1959 The Trap Linda Anderson
1959 The Hangman Selah Jennison
1959 Day of the Outlaw Helen Crane
1960 L'assedio di Siracusa Diana / Artemide / Lucrezia
1960 The Warrior Empress Sappho
1961 Garibaldi French Journalist
1961 Armored Command Alexandra Bastegar
1964 For Those Who Think Young Topaz McQueen
1967 The Seventh Floor Dr. Immer Mehr
1968 The Wrecking Crew Lola Medina
1969 How to Commit Marriage Laverne Baker
1969 The Good Guys and the Bad Guys Carmel
1969 The Happy Ending Helen Bricker
1970 But I Don't Want to Get Married! Miss Spencer Television film
1973 Call to Danger April Tierney Television film
1975 The Stepford Wives Charmaine Wimpiris
1975 Death Scream Hilda Murray
1976 Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby Marjean Dorn Television film
1976 Nightmare in Badham County Greer Television film
1977 SST: Death Flight Mae Television film
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie Voice
1978 Mean Dog Blues Donna Lacey
1979 Friendships, Secrets and Lies Joan Holmes Television film
1980 The Day the Women Got Even Mary Jo Alfieri Television film
1981 Advice to the Lovelorn Diane Marsh Television film
1984 Dog Day Noémie Blue
1984 Hell Riders Claire Delaney
1985 Evils of the Night Cora
1985 O.C. and Stiggs Florence Beaugereaux
1987 The Pool Miloha
1988 Dixie Lanes Violet Hunter
1991 Johnny Suede Mrs. Fontaine
1997 Welcome to Woop Woop Bella
2000 Little Pieces
2000 Growing Down in Brooklyn Mrs. Pip
2004 West from North Goes South Celeste Clark
2014 Late Phases Clarissa
2015 Tapestry Rose
2015 White Lillies Cordelia Cooper


Year Film Role Notes
1956 Studio One Dolores Episode: "Johnny August"
1956 Producers' Showcase Maude Episode: "Happy Birthday"
1957 The Phil Silvers Show Gina Episode: "Bilko Goes South"
1957 Climax! Maxene Sumner Episode: "A Matter of Life and Death"
1961 Tales of Wells Fargo Helene Montclair Episode: "New Orleans Trackdown"
1961 The New Breed Stella Knowland Episode: "I Remember Murder"
1962 Checkmate Checkmate Episode: "A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Game"
1963 Burke's Law Bonnie Belle Tate Episode: "Who Killed Billy Jo?"
1963 Route 66 Robin Episode: "I'm Here to Kill a King"
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Angie Powell Episode: "The Deep End"
1964 Mr. Broadway The Girl Episode: "Smelling Like a Rose"
1966 The Red Skelton Show Daisy June Episode: "Be It Ever So Homely, There's No Face Like Clem"
1964–1967 Gilligan's Island Ginger Grant Series regular, 98 episodes
1967 Bonanza Mary Burns Episode: "Desperate Passage"
1968 It Takes a Thief Anna Martine Episode: "Totally by Design"
1970 Ironside Candy Episode: "Beware the Wiles of the Stranger"
1973 Mannix Linda Cole Episode: "The Faces of Murder"
1969–1973 Love, American Style Mrs. Rossi / Wilma / Lola/ Audrey 4 episodes
1974 Kojak Audrey Norris Episode: "Die Before They Wake"
1973, 1974 Police Story April / Anita 2 episodes
1974 Movin' On Helen Trueblood Episode: "The Cowhands"
1974 Kung Fu (TV series) ? Episode: "A Dream Within a Dream"
1975 Cannon Nell Dexter Episode: "The Wedding March"
1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Susan Dager Episode: "All Passions Spent"
1978–1979 Dallas Julie Grey Special guest star, 5 episodes
1979 The Love Boat Betty Bricker Episode: "My Sister, Irene/The 'Now' Marriage/Second Time Around"
1980 Fantasy Island Lisa Corday Episode: "Unholy Wedlock/Elizabeth"
1980 CHiPs Edie Marshall 2 episodes
1982 Matt Houston Jessica Collier Episode: "The Kidnapping"
1983 Knight Rider Anne Tyler Episode: "The Topaz Connection"
1984–1985 Rituals Taylor Chapin Field von Platen Series regular
1986 Blacke's Magic Lainie Warde Episode: "Death Goes to the Movies"
1986 Santa Barbara Cassie Dunn Special guest star
1986 Simon & Simon Robin Price Episode: "Act Five"
1990 Married... with Children Miss Beck Episode: "Kelly Bounces Back"
1994 All My Children Tish Pridmore Special guest star
1995 Roseanne Cameo Episode: "Sherwood Schwartz—A Loving Tribute"
1999 L.A. Heat Patricia Ludwigson Episode: "In Harm's Way"

Stage work

References in popular culture


  1. Baltimore Jewish Times – Tina Louise – In Ship Shape|Jewish actors, famous Jews, Jewish celebrities. Jewishtimes.com (October 5, 2007); retrieved on 2012-07-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tina Louise Interview. Gilligansisle.com; retrieved 2012-07-03.
  3. Ward Morehouse. Tina Louise Is Back In New York, And Likes To Walk In Central Park. The Miami News (January 5, 1958).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Tina Louise Biography. Tvguide.com. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  5. Grant, Ila S. (November 24, 1958). World's Most Beautiful Red Head Here For Film. The Bulletin. p. 8
  6. Tina Louise Interview. Gilligansisle.com (February 11, 1934). Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
  7. Wilson, Earl. "Tina Louise Is a Serious Type of Comedienne". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 14, 1964.
  8. Associated Press. "21 More Join Actors Studio". The St. Petersburg Evening Independent. March 18, 1964.
  9. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  10. Tina Louise. TV dot com. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  11. An Ask Morty Page. Mortystv.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
  12. Tina Louise (September 6, 2005). Tina Louise Remembers Bob Denver. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
  13. Stephen Baldwin, Burt Young and Tina Louise to Star in Ken Kushner's TAPESTRY broadwayworld.com Retrieved January 17, 2014
  14. Adrian Garcia Bogliano's 'Late Phases': Check out the first image from the upcoming horror film – EXCLUSIVE PHOTO Ententainment Weekly, Retrieved January 17, 2014
  15. Gingerly – Tina Louise. Zimbio (March 22, 2008). Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
  16. Welcome to Harkit Records – Specialist in Jazz and film CD Titles. Harkitrecords.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-03.
  17. OCIE SMITH - "LIGHTHOUSE". YouTube. December 28, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  18. 45 Discography for United Artists Records 101-999 series.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Fussman, Cal (December 17, 2013). Tina Louise: What I’ve learned. Esquire.
  20. Buchanan, Carol (January 22, 2008). Tina Louise gives books to children. St. Croix Source.
  21. What Does A Bee Do? (9781439261446): Tina Louise: Books. Amazon.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-03.

External links

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