‘Gilligan’s Island’: Did Tina Louise or Dawn Wells Model for Playboy?

by Quentin Blount
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Dawn Wells and Tina Louise were two of the biggest stars in television back in the 1960s thanks to their roles on Gilligan’s Island. But do you know which one of them was a model for playboy to begin their respective career?

Let’s start with Dawn Wells. She is without a doubt best known for her time on Gilligan’s Island where she played Mary Ann Summers. Wells played the girl-next-door character for all three seasons of the show and in the various other Gilligan’s Island reunion specials.

And as for Tina Louise, well, she played Hollywood star Ginger Grant in the CBS comedy. Louise portrayed the fictional character from 1964-1967 for the television series, however, she declined to return for the Gilligan’s Island reunion films. She believed that she had been forever typecast as a glamour queen thanks to her role on the popular show.

In the show itself, Ginger and Mary Ann actually grow to be very close friends. Although with that said, there was always a little bit of a rivalry among male fans over which woman they preferred. Ginger or Mary Ann? Wells once told Esquire that both men and women liked her character. Whereas Ginger’s character was mostly liked by only men.

“Both men and women like Mary Ann,” Wells explained in the 2013 interview. “If you were a girl, I would’ve been your best friend. I wouldn’t have tried to take your boyfriend away. I think you would have trusted me.”

But which one of these women modeled for playboy before they ever hit the set of Gilligan’s Island? Who would you cast your vote for? The girl next door, Dawn Wells, or the sex icon, Tina Louise? If you went with the obvious choice, you would be correct.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Tina Louise Once Modeled for Playboy

To say that actress Tina Louise was a movie star through and through would be an understatement. In fact, Louise got her first acting role at just age two after being in an ad for her father’s candy store.

But by the time she turned 17, Tina Louise was out singing and dancing under actor and acting teacher Sanford Meisner. Much of that time was spent at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. Around this same time, Louise started to get calls for modeling jobs, including in a 1958 edition of Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog.

Her allure and reach didn’t end there, though. the Gilligan’s Island star made went on to make appearances in several pinup magazines. Some of them include Adam, Sir! and Modern Man. She also had pictorials done for Playboy Magazine in May of 1958 and April of 1959.

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