Tina Louise is a synonym of timeless beauty. Her mark in Hollywood and on Broadway is so profound few people can ever say they are able to reach her status and glory.
Being born to parents who divorced while she was still young, Tina had a hard time accepting their separation and that somehow determined the course of her life and career.
“My path was very unusual. I lived with a lot of different cousins and aunts and strangers and so forth and so on, sort of a gypsy kind of a childhood,” she told Authority Magazine in 2019.
Although her mom was fashion model, Tina didn’t show any interest of following into her footsteps of being part of the entertainment industry whatsoever.
However, as year went by, she attended Miami University and everything changed.
“I saw a friend of mine who had gotten a part in a play on Broadway and he was the same age as me and I was very impressed,” Tina Louise told Authority Magazine.
“My mother took me backstage and I just really enjoyed it,” she continued. “And the very fact that my friend was in it gave me a little push to just proceed. I told my mother that I wanted to leave the University because the drama department wasn’t sufficient for me.”
Tina perfected her craft of acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. In 1952, she made her Broadway debut in the Bette Davis musical Two’s Company and appeared in Playboy Magazine.
In 1957, Tina released her first music album, It’s Time for Tina, but it was acting that remained the moving power behind her success.
When she landed the role of Griselda Walden in the drama film God’s Little Acre, millions took notice of her talents and her looks. That same year, Tina took home the Golden Globe Award for the New Star of the Year.
“It was incredible,” she told Forbes. “The movie ended up in the Venice Film Festival. I went abroad. There were all these people around taking care of me. I didn’t have to worry about anything. We sat in the theater, and I got bright red roses [laughs]. I’m saying, ‘Why did you give me roses? You should give them to the writer, the director – somebody else.’”
After God’s Little Acre, she focused on her Broadway work and starred in some Italian films. In 1962, when returning from Europe, Tina started studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio.
“Everything Lee Strasberg said was important. He’d pick up your arm and see if—and how — it would drop to determine the level of relaxation in your body and spirit,” Tina told Esquire. “He’d say, ‘Make a sound.’ Some people would start to laugh and that would sometimes turn to tears. You didn’t have to be sad — it all came from deep relaxation.”
She continued, “I learned a lot from Lee about deep relaxation to get at something you were working toward. And then I found myself on Gilligan’s Island, where somebody’s telling you, ‘Go to the right.’ ‘Go to the left.’ That was an adjustment.”
With the role of Ginger in the legendary Gilligan’s Island, Tina reached a world-wide fame.
At first, she wasn’t fond of the script and the role, but she then found it “light and funny and charming.”
The role of Ginger was imagined as “part Marilyn [Monroe], part Lucille [Ball]..” and Tina had exactly that, and maybe more.
“I always had fun with the show. Ginger flirted. Flirting is fun! Flirting is good;” she told the NY Post.
Tina played the role throughout three seasons, or 98 episodes.
“I get letters every day at my house. I appreciate the fact that they love the series. I once had somebody come up to me in a restaurant, she said she was sorry to interrupt, but that her husband was dying of cancer and liked to look at the show every single day,” Tina Louise said.
“That was very, very important. I respect the fact that people like it so much. I understand that for myself – when you need diversion, you need diversion. When I was on my bed for two-and-a-quarter months [recuperating], I needed diversion. Fortunately, there was the reality show of an election that was really getting heated. I was grateful for that, the books I read and the people that came by.”
Other roles that marked her career are in the television series Kojak in 1974, the 1975 movie The Stepford Wives, the 1987 comedy OC and Stiggs, and the rockabilly satire film Johnny Sue in 1992, starring Brad Pitt.
Today, Tina is 89 and she’s a grandmother to two grandchildren,” whom she calls “my two beautiful babies.” She’s still living in New York.
She, of course, defies her age. Looking at her, one would assume she’s decades younger than she really is.
“Don’t number me. Who needs it?” Tina Louise added. “Numbers are not what you look like or how you live your life … Buddha said, ‘Live in the present moment. Wisely and earnestly.’”
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