Ginger or Mary Ann? It's a no-brainer. While Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) was a pretty girl, Ginger was a woman, a beautiful, glamorous, sexy woman. The "Movie Star."
The Ginger-Mary Ann question fueled a debate for men to reveal what kind of woman they'd rather be stranded with on a desert island: The sweet and innocent girl next door or the glamour queen?
Ginger was the total package: the pouty lips...the sultry voice...the soft skin...the flaming red hair...the false eyelashes... the prominent beauty mark she made her trademark 20 years before Cindy Crawford arrived on the scene.
Ginger became an icon; red-headed girls were never before called "Gingers"
until Tina was shipwrecked.
Only Ginger could sashay through the sand in high heels and an evening gown. Ginger never hesitated to use her sexuality to gain favors from Gilligan (Bob Denver), the Skipper (Alan Hale), the Professor (Russell Johnson), Mr. Howell (Jim Backus), or any other man who got lost on the island. A come-on from Ginger reduced all of them to mush. Who could forget the hilarious episode in which she seduced the lost Japanese sailor who became so flummoxed his glasses steamed up?
Ginger and Mary Ann brought in the male viewers, but their sexuality was toned down. Hanky-panky between the five young singles stranded on the island was off limits, and Ginger wasn't allowed to show cleavage.
Ginger cheerfully dropped names like Cary Grant and Rock Hudson like they were old friends, and causally referred to her Hollywood lifestyle as if every woman dated actors, attended movie premeires and worried what the gossip columnists would write about them.
Tina wasn't the original Ginger. Actress Kit Smythe played Ginger as a sarcastic secretary in the unaired pilot, but "Gilligan" creator Sherwood Schwartz decided to make a change in the character as well as the actress.
Blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield declined the role and it was offered to Tina. She claims she was promised the starring role on "Gilligan," but once she signed the contract, left Broadway and moved to LA, the producers reduced Ginger's part.
She repeatedly clashed with the producers and requested a larger role yet her demands were never met, so she soldiered on. After the series ended Tina complained that playing Ginger typecast her and ruined her serious acting career.
Denver told an interviewer: "They told her she had top billing. My problem with that is if you get fourth billing, wouldn't that be a clue?"
Born as Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker in New York City, Tina followed her mother into a modeling career. She was nicknamed Tina and the "Louise" was added in high school when she told her drama teacher that she was the only girl in the class without a middle name.
Tina appeared on the cover of pinup magazines like "Adam" and "Sir!" and modeled for two "Playboy" pictorials in the late 1950s.
She made her film debut in the controversial "God's Little Acre," playing the sultry Griselda, the sexy object of desire of her sister's husband. That role has been called the best performance of her career and co-star Robert Ryan predicted she would become a big star.
She never became that big star, but as Ginger Grant, she became unforgettable.
Classic TV Beauties 1960s Countdown
TINA LOUISE as Ginger Grant in "Gilligan's Island"
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After the three year run of "Gilligan's Island" (1964-67), Tina was the only cast member not to appear in any of the reunion shows.
Schwartz said that Tina offered to appear in "Rescue from Gilligan's Island," a made for TV movie made in 1978, but her salary demands were too high.