‘Gilligan’s Island’: One Actor Nearly Quit Show, Stayed to Get More ‘Exposure’

by Quentin Blount

One Gilligan’s Island star actress almost quit at the very beginning of the show but thankfully, she changed her mind.

Nowadays, we all know Tina Louise as the actress who played Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island. Prior to hitting the big time for her castaway role, however, Louise landed a breakthrough role in the 1958 drama film God’s Little Acre. She even won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for her performance.

So, it is definitely safe to say that Tina Louise was well known even prior to starring in Gilligan’s Island. But what was, almost wasn’t. Louise once told Gilligan’s Isle that her role as Ginger did not suit her the way she thought it would. She was involved with Broadway at the time but left after being promised a starring role on TV by CBS’s president.

“Oh yeah, they kind of sold it to me that way,” Louise explained.

In her mind, Gilligan’s Island was going to be about the island adventures of movie star Ginger Grant. But when that wasn’t exactly the case, Louise said that she was less than happy. Although she wanted to be the main star and the main star alone, she stayed on with the series to get more acting “exposure.”

“After all, I am a professional!” she said.

Fellow ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Confirms Story

As if it wasn’t convincing enough to hear it straight from the mouth on Tina Louise, her fellow Gilligan’s Island co-star once told a similar story.

Dawn Wells is still remembered today for playing Mary Ann Summers on the show. And even she says that Tina Louise was never completely bought into the show. She once admitted that the Ginger Grant actress truly thought that she was a movie star and that the show should have been all about her.

“Tina thought she was a movie star and I don’t think she realized what it was that there were seven of us,” Dawn Wells told Studio 10 in 2019. “She was never difficult. She was never part of the company, though.”

You can watch that interview down below:

Rescue from Gilligan’s Island was the cast’s first reunion movie. Wells goes on to say that when she and the rest of her co-stars got back together, everyone made it except for Tina Louise. Her role of Ginger got replaced by Judith Baldwin.

Wells even said that she tried to contact Louise, but the “movie star” actress didn’t want to admit that she was part of the show.

“Even since then I have tried to kind of contact her,” Wells said. “And she doesn’t even want to admit she was in it. And she was wonderful. I don’t think you could have cast anyone better.”