11 things you didn't know about Tina Louise
The iconic redhead had a fascinating career off Gilligan's Island. She has danced alongside Carol Burnett, acted in Italian epics, sung jazz and more.
Top image: AP Photo / ERB
"A movie star!" indeed. While most fondly remember Tina Louise for her role on Gilligan's Island, the redhead is far more than Ginger.
For decades, she fought to break the stereotype and succeeded in her fascinating roles outside of sitcom-dom. Louise has done theater, European film, jazz singing, writing, modeling, Dallas, and a captivating guest role on Kojak in which she played an addict. She even designed a parasol in the early 1990s. (Note: not the one she is holding above.)
On February 11, Louise celebrates her 84th birthday. Here are some fascinating facts about the actress.
1. She gave herself the middle name "Louise" in high school.
Born Tina Blacker, to a candy store owner in Brooklyn, she later became Tina Myers when her mother remarried. The teenager found herself in a posh environment, Scarborough High School in Westchester. All the rich, budding sorority girls around her had long names. So Tina stuck Louise in the middle of her name.
2. She was in a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog with Jayne Mansfield… who almost had the role of Ginger.
As a nascent actress, she studied under brilliant teachers Sanford Meisner and Lee Strasberg, but took work modeling to get a start. In the Oct.–Nov. 1958 issue of the Frederick's catalog, the Victoria's Secret of the day, she was billed "Hollywood's Fastest Rising Star," alongside Jayne Mansfield. The two would be linked again, when Mansfield turned down a role on a sitcom about seven castaways on an island. Louise, as we all know, got the gig instead.
3. She released an album in 1957.
Louise enchants on this lush platter of late night jazz. Saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins blows on the tracks under Louise's casually seductive voice. She would put her pipes to use in other arenas, as we shall see.
4. She was named "The World's Most Beautiful Redhead" in 1958.
It's hard to argue with the pick. Here she is the following year, on the set of the film The Siege of Syracuse.
Image: AP Photo
5. She made a handful of hip Italian films.
Speaking of The Siege of Syracuse, the official title is L'assedio di Siracusa, as it was an Italian production. Louise next did another Italian sword-and-sandal epic, Saffo - Venere di Lesbo, which is not as risqué as it sounds and often goes by The Warrior Princess over here (pictured). It's more of a Clash of the Titans affair. Most notable of her roles across the Atlantic, however, was Garibaldi under the direction of cinema master Roberto Rossellini. Louise is great in all of them.
6. She was in a movie with Bob Denver before 'Gilligan's Island'
We mentioned this in our things you didn't know about Bob Denver, but it's worth mentioning again. Months before Gilligan's hit the airwaves, Denver and Louise costarred in the summer surf flick For Those Who Think Young. The teen comedy also featured Nancy Sinatra and Ellen Burstyn.
7. She was in a hit Broadway musical with Carol Burnett.
Opening in 1964, Fade Out – Fade In garnered rave reviews, a Tony nomination and big box office numbers. The plot involved a chorus girl who is given the lead role in a film, which is subsequently canned — that is, until someone takes a look at it.
8. She was in Brad Pitt's first headlining film — and his strangest.
Brad Pitt was a nobody when he landed the title role in the quirky Johnny Suede, an indie flick about an aspiring rockabilly singer with a massive pompadour. Louise pops up in a dinner scene. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson is in this thing, which is like a delicious B-movie candy whipped up by David Lynch.
9. There is a restaurant in New Jersey called Tina Louise.
It's serves "a taste of Asia." We were thinking tropical island fare. According to the website, it is temporarily closed due to a fire. But if you someday find yourself in Carlstadt, New Jersey…
Image: Village Restaurant Group
10. There are two rock songs that mention her.
What can we say? Tina Louise is inspirational. The B-52s, who took hairstyling tips from Ginger, mention Louise in their early mission statement, "52 Girls." A couple decades later, the garage rock band the Dirtbombs released a single called "Tina Louise."
Image: AP Photo / Mario Torrisi
11. She is an author, and so is her daughter.
In 1997, Louise penned a memoir, Sunday. She also wrote a children's picture book. Her daughter, Caprice Crane, is an accomplished scribe, too. Crane started as a MTV writer, and has published several novels. The second, Forget About It, was once optioned for a possible movie with Scarlett Johannson, while the first, Stupid & Contagious, was in development as a pilot at NBC.
Image: AP Photo / George Brich