“The best movie you'll ever be in is your own life, because that's what really matters in the end.” Tina Louise
American actress and singer Tina Louise is best recalled for playing Ginger Grant in the CBS comedy series “Gilligan's Island” (1964-1967), from which she jointly nabbed TV Land's 2004 Pop Culture Award. A former model and nightclub singer, she first came to the attention of public when she was cast as Griselda Walden in the controversial film “God's Little Acre” (1958), where she was nominated for a Golden Laurel Award for her performance. In the following year, she was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Promising Newcomer – Female. After “Gilligan's Island” came to its demise, Louise remained in showbiz by working in a number of TV films and movies, including “The Stepford Wives” (1975), “O.C. and Stiggs” (1985) and “Johnny Suede” (1992), to name a few, and landing countless guest spots. She has also acted in several Broadway plays. Louise has released four studio albums, most notably “It's Time for Tina” (1957).
Currently living in New York City, Louise becomes a member of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of
the Actors Studio. She is a literacy and academic advocate, and
created a health care company called “TLC.” Louise is
the writer of “A Memoir” (1997) “When I Grow Up”
(2007) and “What Does A Bee Do?.”
Louise had a brief marriage with TV talk show host Les Crane from 1966 to 1970. Her daughter, Caprice Crane, became an MTV producer and a novelist.
Childhood and Family:
Tina Louise was born Tina Blacker on February 11, 1934, in New York City, New York, to Joseph Blacker, an accountant, and Betty Horn Myers (1916-2011), a fashion model. She attended Miami University, Miami, Florida, and also trained at the N.Y. Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors' Studio.
On April 3, 1966, Tina married radio host Les Crane (December 3, 1933 - July 13, 2008). They later divorced in 1970. The marriage produced one daughter, Caprice Crane (born 1970). Her daughter currently works for MTV.
God's Little Acre
Tina Louise began her career as a model and nightclub singer while she studied at the Actor's Studio. She graced the cover of several pinup magazines like “Adam, Sir!” and “Modern Man.” In 1952, she made her acting debut in the Bette Davis musical revue “Two's Company.” It was followed by performances in Broadway plays such as “John Murray Anderson's Almanac” (1953), “The Fifth Season” (1954), “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” (1955), “ Li'l Abner” (1956, as Appassionata Von Climax) and “Fade Out-Fade In” (1964). She also appeared in such early live television series as “Studio One in Hollywood” (1956), “Appointment with Adventure” (1956) and “Producers' Showcase” (1956).
Louise released her debut album,“It's Time for Tina,” through Concert Hall in 1957. 12 tracks, were included in the album, including “Embraceable You” and “I'm in the Mood for Love,” with arrangements by Jim Timmens and Buddy Weed's Orchestra. She went on to record an additional album for Concert Hall and two albums for Urania Record (1958 and 1959 respectively).
In 1958, Louise made her auspicious big screen debut in the film adaptation of Erskine Caldwell's 1933 novel, “God's Little Acre,” opposite Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Jack Lord, Tina Louise and Buddy Hackett. Paying Griselda Walden, Ty Ty's daughter-in-law, she was nominated for a Golden Laurel for Top Female Supporting Performance, and in 1959, she was handed a Golden Globe for Promising Newcomer – Female. She was cast alongside Richard Widmark and Lee J. Cobb in her next film, “The Trap” (1959), a color noir film directed by Norman Panama. She then starred with Robert Taylor in Michael Curtiz's “The Hangman” and with Robert Ryan and Burl Ives in Andre De Toth's “Day of the Outlaw” (both also 1959).
In early 1960s, Louise continued to star in several films like “The Warrior Empress” (1960, with Kerwin Mathews and Riccardo Garrone), “L' Assedio di Siracusa” (“The Siege of Syracuse,” 1960), “Garibaldi” (1961) and Byron Haskin's “Armored Command” (1961, opposite Howard Keel). She did not appear in another film until 1964's “For Those Who Think Young,” a beach party film directed by Leslie H. Martinson. While away from the big screen, she appeared in episodes of “Tales of Wells Fargo” (1961), “ The New Breed” (1961), “Checkmate” (1962), “The Real McCoys” (1962), “The Doctors” (1963), “ Burke's Law” (1963), “Kraft Suspense Theatre” (1964) and “Route 6” (1964) as well as in the made for TV film “ Fanfare for a Death Scene” (1964).
Louise's big break on television came when she was cast as the movie star, Ginger Grant, on the popular sitcom “Gilligan's Island,” opposite Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells. Created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz, the show aired for three seasons on the CBS network from September 26, 1964, to September 4, 1967. The role later earned her TV Land's 2004 Pop Culture Award. Due to clash with producers, she refused to return for any of the TV movies that followed the cancellation of the series, making her the only cast member to do so. However, she did appear in a reunion of the cast on a late night television talk show in 1988 and on an episode of “Roseanne” in 1995.
While working on the show, Louise made her return to the big screen by playing Dr. Immer Mehr on on the Italian movie “The Seventh Floor” (1967), directed and written by and starring Ugo Tognazzi. Following “Gilligan's Island,” she continued to portray Lola Medina in “The Wrecking Crew” (1969, starred Dean Martin, Elke Sommer, and Sharon Tate), Jackie Gleason's love interest, Laverne Baker, in “How to Commit Marriage” (1969), which reunited her with director Norman Panama, Camel in “The Good Guys and the Bad Guys” (1969, with Robert Mitchum, George Kennedy, Martin Balsam and David Carradine) and Helen Bricker in “The Happy Ending” (1969, starred Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Shirley Jones and Lloyd Bridges). She starred along with Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Peter Masterson and Nanette Newman in the science fiction/thriller film “The Stepford Wives” (1975), which was adapted from Ira Levins' 1972 novel of the same name, had an uncredited part in John Landis' comedy film, “The Kentucky Fried Movie” (1977) and worked with Gregg Henry, Kay Lenz and Scatman Crothers in Mel Stuart's “Mean Dog Blues” ( 1978).
Louise also appeared in a number of television shows during this period, including “Bonanza” (1967), “Love, American Style” (1969-1973), “Ironside” (1970), “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” (1972), “ Mannix” (1973), “Police Story” (1973-1974), “Kung Fu” (1974), “Kojak” (1974), “ Movin' On” (1974), “Cannon” (1975) and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” (1976), in addition to performances in such TV films as “But I Don't Want to Get Married!” (1970), “Call to Danger” (1973), “Death Scream” (1975), “Don't Call Us” (1976), “Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby” (1976), “ Nightmare in Badham County” (1976), “ SST: Death Flight” (1977) and “Friendships, Secrets and Lies” (1979). From 1978 to 1979, she played the role of J.R.'s first secretary, Julie Grey, in the CBS prime time soap opera “Dallas.”
In the 1980s, Louise could be seen making guest appearances in “Fantasy Island,” “ChiPs,” “Matt Houston,” “Knight Rider,” “Blacke's Magic,” “Simon & Simon” and “The Love Boat.” She played Taylor Chapin Field von Platen #2 in the TV series “Rituals” between 1984 and 1985 and in 1986, she joined the cast of the NBC soap opera “Santa Barbara” in the role of Cassie Dunn. She also acted in the made for TV films “The Day the Women Got Even” (NBC, 1980), with Jo Ann Pflug and Georgia Engel, and “Advice to the Lovelorn” (1981), starring Cloris Leachman, Kelly Bishop and Walter Brooke. On the movie front, Louise co-starred with Lee Marvin, Miou-Miou and Jean Carmet in the French film “Dog Day” (1984), directed by Yves Boisset, starred as Claire Delaney in James Bryan's action/drama, “Hell Riders” (1984), supported Daniel Jenkins, Neill Barry and Jane Curtin in the Robert Altman directed comedy “O.C. and Stiggs” (1985), worked with Aldo Ray, Neville Brand, John Carradine, and Julie Newmar in the low budget science fiction film “Evils of the Night” (1985), teamed up with Peter G. Boynton and Bernice Massi in the romance film “The Pool” (1987) and had a supporting role in the comedy/drama film “Dixie Lanes” (1988), starring Hoyt Axton, Karen Black and Art Hindle.
In 1990, Louise appeared as Miss Beck in an episode of “Married with Children” called Kelly Bounces Back.” In the following year, she was cast as Mrs. Fontaine in “Johnny Suede,” the directorial debut of writer/director Tom DiCillo, and made a guest appearance in “Monsters.” The same year, she also portrayed Sissy in a stage production of “ Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” at the Columbus Center for the Arts, New York.
Louise returned to television when she made guest appearances in “All My Children” in 1994 and then “ Roseanne” in 1995. In 1997, she landed a small role in the Australian/British film “Welcome to Woop Woop,” which was directed by Stephan Elliott starred Johnathon Schaech and Rod Taylor. Two years later, she played Patricia Ludwigson in an episode of “L.A. Heat” called “In Harm's Way” (1999).
2000 saw Louise appear in two films: “Growing Down in Brooklyn” (starred Amy Hargreaves, Anthony Caso and Richard Cocchiaro) and “Little Pieces” (starred Jon Seda, Derek Cecil and Daniel Quinn). Four years later, she resurfaced in “West from North Goes South,” a comedy/mystery film starring Shawn David Thompson, Amelia Barrett and Morris Day and directed by Steve Ashlee, and Valerie Silver. The film marked her last film appearance to date.
TV Land: Pop Culture Award, “Gilligan's Island,” 2004
Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer – Female, 1959