‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Tina Louise Says She Channeled Lucille Ball to Play Ginger

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When it came time to bring her character on “Gilligan’s Island” to life, Tina Louise was influenced by two major stars. One of them was one of the most beloved television icons of all time. Another was a very famous movie star.

Louise, of course, played “The Movie Star” Ginger Grant in the beloved 1960s sitcom about a group of castaways living on a deserted island. The now 87-year-old actress talked about her influences for her “Gilligan’s Island” character during a recent interview with The New York Post.

So, which stars did Tina Louise look to for inspiration? She said that her performance as Ginger was “part Marilyn (Monroe), part Lucy (Ball).”

They are two very iconic figures to use for inspiration without a doubt. Lucille Ball still makes countless fans laugh through her comedic work, especially through her sitcom, “I Love Lucy.”

During her career, she gave television fans some of the most hilarious and memorable moments in television history. There’s almost no forgetting scenes such as her attempt to sell Vitameatavegamin, or when she and her friend, Ethel, went to work in a candy factory, or when she met Superman, or when she had fun with Harpo Marx.

So, if you’re Tina Louise and you are starring in a comedy, it makes perfect sense that the work of Lucille Ball would be a valuable resource for you.

Of course, if you’re playing a sexy movie star, Marilyn Monroe is also a great example. The Hollywood icon was known for her beauty and figure. She was also famous for her work in such films as “The Seven Year Itch,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and “Some Like It Hot.”

Tina Louise Said She Had Fun ‘Flirting’ as Ginger in ‘Gilligan’s Island’

Interestingly, when “Gilligan’s Island” began, Tina Louise wasn’t all that happy with the show. She described it as “snarky.”

However, she changed her feelings when the show became, as she put it, “light and funny and charming.”

“I always had fun with the show. Ginger flirted. Flirting is fun! Flirting is good,” Louise also said.

Here are a few details you might not know about the character of Ginger Grant in “Gilligan’s Island.” In the sitcom’s pilot, Ginger wasn’t a movie star. She was a secretary. And, it wasn’t Louise who played the character in the pilot. Kit Smythe played Ginger in the pilot.

However, the minds behind the show decided that Ginger should be a sexy movie star and not a secretary. When they made this important change to the character, Tina Louise landed the part. She went to it in 1964. Before “Gilligan’s Island,” Louise was appearing in the Broadway musical, “Fade Out-Fade In.” Her co-star was also a television comedy legend – Carol Burnett.