11 early photos of Tina Louise, before she became Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island
Go back to the 1950s with The Movie Star.
Image: The Everett Collection
The daughter of a model and a candy shop owner, Tina Louise got discovered at the age of 2 posing for ads to sell her dad's store's sweets. Born Tina Blacker in 1934, it would take exactly 30 years for the actress to land her most famous role as Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island.
In between, a high school drama teacher in her senior year dubbed her Louise after she complained about having no middle name. The name Tina Louise stuck and became the one associated with the dazzling redhead who debuted on Broadway just shy of 20 years old. That was in 1953, and spectacularly enough, it found her sharing a stage with Bette Davis.
By the end of the decade, Louise had made it on stage, as well as modeling for album covers in 1957 and 1958:
After standing out on Broadway, Louise got her start on TV shows and movies in the mid- to late 1950s, but it was a role in 1958 that cast her hair back in a messy ponytail that made her look more like her Gilligan's Island country girl counterpart Mary Ann Summers. In God's Little Acre, Louise played Griselda Walden, a young woman who marries the son of a poor Georgia cotton farmer.
The role would be a turning point for Tina, who'd appear in a string of movies after that 1958 rural comedy/romance. Here are some fresh-faced photos from this early era of Louise, ordered from 1958 through 1963, just before Gilligan's Island premiered in 1964. Scroll through to watch the evolution of Tina Louise, from budding beauty to iconic TV star:
As you can see, it didn't take long for the actress to go the glamour route, and this final photo from 1963 feels like the appropriate page in the scrapbook to get us to Tina Louise as Ginger Grant:
Interestingly, Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz said that it was Louise's stage work that almost kept her off the show. He told the Archive of American Television that she was unavailable to do the pilot because of a play she was doing, so despite how much he wanted her to be his Movie Star, he almost had to go with a back-up. "[Tina Louise] became available and she signed in New York to do the show," Schwartz said. He continued later, "She was perfect for the part." Here's more photo proof from the early 1960s:
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