Tina Louise was the star of the popular ’60s show “Gilligan’s Island,” where she played the role of the breathy-voiced Ginger

    Tina Louise was the star of the popular ’60s show “Gilligan’s Island,” where she played the role of the breathy-voiced Ginger. Six decades after the show ended, Louise still looks terrific for her age and enjoys a quiet time in her New York home. Her favorite pastime is spending quality time with her daughter and her look-alike twin grandkids.

    When she was only two, Tina Louise had her first taste of the limelight after featuring in an ad for her father’s candy store. Decades later, she earned herself the title Blonde Bombshell, attributed to her eye-catching looks. Today, she is the only surviving cast member of the series that propelled her to international stardom, “Gilligan’s Island.”

    Louise was born in New York City to a fashion model mother, Sylvia, and a candy-store-owner-turned-accountant father, Joseph Blacker. Her childhood began as typical as can be until her parents divorced when she was four. She lived with her mother after that.

    Tina Louise during the signing of her book, "When I Grow Up" on March 15, 2007 at Borders in New York City | Source: Getty Images

    Born Tina Blacker, the name Louise was reportedly added by her drama teacher when she mentioned that she was the only girl in her senior year in high school without a middle name.

    In 1952, at only 17, she landed her debut role in the musical revue, “Two’s Company.” However, she became a nationally recognized actress after appearing in the acclaimed box office success, “Li’l Abner.”

    The consequent stellar reviews on the show caught the attention of Hollywood, and the actress signed her first feature film, playing Griselda Walden in the comedy-drama, “God’s Little Acre,” a role that won her the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

    In 1958, the “Johnny Suede” actress was named the most beautiful redhead. As a result, she began receiving modeling job offers which saw her appear on the covers of several pinup magazines, including Modern Man, Sir!, and Adam.

    Over the next several years, Louise landed many film roles playing Linda Anderson in “The Trap,” Helen Crane in “Day of the Outlaw,” Topaz McQueen in “For Those Who Think Young,” and Sappho in “The Warrior Empress.”

    She also had numerous guest roles playing Helene Montclair in “Tales of Wells Fargo,” Stella Knowland in “The New Breed,” and Tilda Hicks in “The Real McCoys.” Other film credits include appearing in “The Seventh Floor,” “The Wrecking Crew,” “The Happy Ending,” “Death Scream,” and “Look What Happened to Rosemary’s Baby,” among many others.

    Tina Louise on "Love, American Style" on January 1, 1972. | Source: Getty Images

    In 1964, she starred in her most famous role, playing Ginger Grant in the CBS sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” a show chronicling seven people who go sightseeing on a charter boat but get caught up in a storm and end up stranded on a tropical island.

    The show derived its comedy from the numerous failed attempts by the castaways to escape the island, as well as the diverse interactions of the group.

    The seven comprised of a friendly country girl, Mary Anne, Ron Hinkley, also known as “The Professor;” Ginger, a high school science professor; Thurston Howell and his wife, Lovey, a buxom sexy movie star bombshell; Gilligan, a bumbling and snobby well-to-do millionnaire and Jonas Grumby, a rotund but happy-go-lucky skipper.

    As the only surviving cast member, Louise remembers her co-stars fondly. Asked which of them she found the most attractive, Louise disclosed that Jim Backus, who played Thurston Howell, was the most stunning. In addition to being humorous and witty, he was also adorable in many other ways.

    She also described the others by their characters, saying the Professor loved to read while Gilligan was incredibly shy.

    Even though Louise fit perfectly in her role as Ginger, the character was first assigned to actress Kit Smythe, who played a secretary in the pilot. However, the producers changed the character’s direction, and when they decided to turn her into a starlet, they cast Louise.

    Despite the success of the show and the numerous awards it won, it was not all work for Louise, and in 1966, she walked down the aisle with radio announcer, TV talk show host, and pioneer in interactive broadcasting, Les Crane. They welcomed their only child, daughter Caprice Crane in 1970 but unfortunately divorced the following year

    Tina Louise and Les Crane attend a party in Los Angeles, California, circa 1966 | Source: Getty Images

    Today, Caprice is a renowned novelist, screenwriter, and TV writer/producer. Her literary works include “Stupid & Contagious” and “Forget About It,” both of which won her the Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Awards two years in a row.

    Her third book, “Family Affair,” was released in 2009, while her fourth, “With A Little Luck,” was published in 2011. In 2013, she co-authored “Esther the Wonderful Pig: Changing the World One Heart At a Time,” which became a New York best seller.

    Since Louise’s divorce in 1971, the actress focused more on her career, did not marry again, and remained single for years. She said that being a redhead may have contributed to her remaining single for so long because most men were afraid of them.

    Men worry that a redhead will up and leave them, unlike brunettes. She finds the belief ridiculous and says all redheads are different. She hopes to find love because when she’s with someone, she is there for a reason.

    Life After “Gilligan’s Island”
    According to Louise, “Gilligan’s Island” was more than a TV show. It first aired in 1964, when the United States was in turmoil. The death of Martin Luther King caused a lot of uncertainty, and as such, the show became an escape and a source of calm at an uncertain time in many people’s lives.

    Tina Louise during Gotham Magazine's 5th Anniversary Party at Cipriani's 23rd Street in New York City | Source: Getty Images

    The “Call To Danger” actress remains happy that something she was involved in was so special to American TV and brought people so much joy. Her character on the show was so impactful to her fans that the actress still receives fan mail at her house nearly six decades after the show ended. “I appreciate that they love the series,” she mused.

    She then told of an incredibly fulfilling moment when a stranger once approached her as she was having dinner in a restaurant and told her that her husband, who was dying of cancer, liked to watch the show every day.

    However, all good things must come to an end, and the end of “Gilligan’s Island” came in 1967, after 98 episodes over three seasons. The actress said the writers did not want to get them off the island, but the network president was unhappy with the airing schedule. They wanted “Gunsmoke” back on, so “Gilligan’s Island” had to be canceled.

    Nevertheless, the end of the show did not mean the end of acting for Louise, and she went on to land numerous more dramatic roles, including playing a heroin addict in “Kojak,” Charmaine Wimpiris in “The Stepford Wives,” and Florence Beaugereaux in “O.C and Stiggs” among many others.

    As a New York native, the actress has always loved her home city and said if she had to choose where to be stranded, she would have picked New York. Her character on “Gilligan’s Island” was also from New York.

    That said, it is no wonder that the actress chose to spend her sunset years in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of the city, as she has a unique attraction to it. She once disclosed:

    “New York is my hobby. I dig the streets, the people, and the theater. And I get all charged up. I like the movement, the electricity, and the charm of the city.”

    Tina Louise attends a special Broadway HD screening of Holland Taylor's 'Ann' at the the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on June 14, 2018 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

    Despite a busy Hollywood life, she always found time to go back home to New York, and after so many years making her mark in show business, she finally began settling down in the place she had always called home.

    She now enjoys taking walks in the Katharine Hepburn Garden near the United Nations, reading, and spending quality time with her family. And while she has illuminated herself as being open to life, she also says she does not go very far from home. She only ever goes out with a friend every once in a blue moon.

    As her roles on TV and film gradually slowed down, she took on the new role of a doting grandma to her beautiful twin grandbabies, Kingston and Clementine. Her favorite pastime is spending time with her daughter and grandbabies, evidenced by the numerous times the four have taken cute photos.

    In 2020, Caprice posted a photo of herself and her twins with the three clad in matching pajamas as Louise looked admiringly at the toddlers.

    In 2021, the “Late Phases” actress posted a cute photo of her grandbabies, noting that she had been visiting with her family in California:

    “I got so many hugs and kisses! I should be good for at least a month.”

    A little over a year later, she posted another cute photo of herself, her daughter, and her grandkids as they celebrated the twins’ birthdays. She confessed that it was the most fun kids’ birthday she had ever been to and praised Caprice for planning everything so perfectly.

    She noted that one twin had asked for a “Star Wars” theme while the other wanted a Hello Kitty, so their mother included both themes in their party:

    “The boys were having Jedi lessons, and the girls were loving hello kitty. Though some girls were jedis and vice versa. A day of pure joy for all!”

    Age Is Not Just a Number for Louise
    At 89, Louise is still young at heart and hates revealing her age because she does not want to be labeled as a number. However, she still feels spry enough to pursue love even at that late stage. She has openly admitted to being open to dating and would gladly welcome love if it ever came her way.

    Tina Louise attends the red carpet event for "Women Talking" during the 60th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on October 10, 2022 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

    Asked what qualities she would be looking for in a prospective partner, she said they would have to be funny with a good heart. And she had someone in mind that fit the bill.

    She opened up about her celebrity crush, saying if she ever did date, she would love to go out with comedian, actor, and TV show host John Oliver. She admitted to liking Oliver’s dimples:

    “He’s terrific. Bright. Cute. Funny. You have to enjoy each other’s company and have something to talk about. That’s important.”

    In recent years, as late as 2019, Louise still took on film roles, playing Rose in “Tapestry.” But besides acting, the actress is also a literacy and academic advocate and has become a volunteer teacher at Learning Leaders, a non-profit organization providing tutoring to New York school children.

    And when she is not helping young students gain literary skills, confidence, and self-determination, Louise is writing. She wrote her first book, a memoir titled “Sunday,” published in 1998, then a children’s book, “When I Grow Up,” in 2007. Her third “What Does A Bee Do” was published two years later.

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