While The Brady Bunch is celebrating its 50th anniversary, that show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, has another series that’s beaten it: Gilligan’s Island. — which is currently celebrating its 55th anniversary. Sadly, most of the original cast — notably Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jr.; Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer and Russell Johnson — are no longer with us, and the only surviving member, besides Dawn Wells, is Tina Louise, who plays Ginger Grant, aka “The Movie Star.” But Tina is not one to offer much in the way of reflection on the series. Until now.
“On this 55th anniversary of Gilligan’s Island,” Tina tells Closer exclusively, “I want to say how wonderful it is that our show is still on the air after all these years. I honestly feel like I have so many friends out there who just love what we did and what we shared and the joy we brought. I’m so happy to have been part of something that was so special to American television.
“When we first aired,” she continues, “our country was in turmoil. We were just past the Cuban Missile Crisis and the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Vietnam War was escalating and I think people really needed an escape. Then we lost our beloved Martin Luther King and in a time of uncertainty, Gilligan’s Island represented this great escape. This sweet, silly show provided its fans with calm and joy in a frightening time and has continued to do so. Well done television transports people into a fantasy and no matter what turmoil exists in the world, Gilligan’s Island has provided that escape in an enduring way. Considering the state of everything these days, we should all be happy it’s still in reruns!”
Tina, who was born in New York City, began “acting” at the age of two when she appeared in an ad for her father’s candy store. At the age of 17 she began studying acting, singing and dancing at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. Modeling following which, in turn, led to acting. She made her debut on stage in 1952’s Two’s Company, which was followed by several other Broadway productions, including 1957’s Li’l Abner. She began appearing in film with 1958’s God’s Little Acre and most recently appeared in 2017’s Tapestry with numerous roles in between.
Television was a source of steady acting gigs as well, with Tina appearing in a combination of dramatic anthology shows like Studio One and Climax!, and guest star appearances in Checkmate, Burke’s Law and Route 66. From 1964-67, of course, she played Ginger on Gilligan’s Island, after which she guest starred on a variety of shows, starting with an episode of Bonanza in 1967 and continuing right through L.A. Heat in 1999.
A truly amazing career, and one that has seen her fortunate enough to be part of an iconic television series with Gilligan’s Island that continues to touch one generation after another.
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