TV viewers in the 1960s were seeking programs with humor and fun, quite a contrast from real-life issues. “Gilligan’s Island” fit the bill.
It’s something that struck actress Tina Louise, who played Hollywood starlet Ginger Grant, on the popular CBS sitcom. In a 2019 interview with Authority Magazine, Louise talked about those times and what the show meant to people.
“People that were sick got relief from it,” Louise said. “So many things had happened in our civilization at the time. Martin Luther King was killed. And then, JFK and then his brother, Bobby Kennedy. People needed that relief and this show just seemed to take people away from everything.
‘Gilligan’s Island’ Proved To Be A ‘Big Deal’ At The Time
“There was one shock after another in our civilization and so that show was a big deal,” she said. “It kept growing and one day someone said to me, ‘Tina you are an icon.’ I said, ‘Really? What do you mean?’ It’s kind of surprising to me.”
Louise said that she still loves getting fan mail as “Gilligan’s Island” remains a syndicated TV staple. But she has been known to say that her role as Ginger Grant stifled her film career as no executives could see beyond the Grant role.
Tina Louise is 87 years old and lives in New York City. She is originally from New York City and is the last remaining cast member alive from “Gilligan’s Island.” Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers, died on Dec. 30, 2020.
The show, which ran for three seasons on CBS, would have made it to a fourth season except for “Gunsmoke.” CBS executives were debating about canceling “Gunsmoke” or not. They finally made the call to keep “Gunsmoke” despite its sagging ratings. “Gilligan’s Island,” a Top 20 show, ended up getting canceled but remains alive in syndication.
Hair Color Plays Part In Filling Ginger, Mary Ann Roles
Now “Gilligan’s Island” first aired on CBS in black-and-white episodes starting in 1964. Because of this, it was important to make sure Ginger and Mary Ann had different color hair.
Initially, the Ginger Grant role was going to be that of a red-headed secretary. Show producers, though, changed that around when their first choice to play Ginger didn’t work out. They tweaked the character to be a Hollywood star with blonde hair.
In walks Tina Louise, though, knocks the audition out of the park, and gets the role as a redhead. Then a brunette was needed to be a contrast to Ginger. Dawn Wells gets the call, the part, and a lifetime filled with tender memories of seven stranded castaways.