“If you could be marooned on Gilligan’s Island, toward which character would your raging teenage hormones point you: Ginger or Mary Ann?” When I was in high school about 100 years ago, that was the question the guys asked each other. As I recall, most said the wholesome Mary Ann. The sexy and sultry Ginger Grant, they giggled, might be too much for the inexperienced to handle. I kept my mouth shut.
When I heard about the death of Russell Johnson yesterday, the actor who played the Professor in the famed sitcom of the 1960s, I thought about Ginger Grant and Mary Ann Summers. Sadly, Tina Louise and Dawn Wells, the actresses who portrayed the island beauties, are now the only living cast members remaining from Gilligan’s Island. Where has the time gone?
I pulled my files on these two lovely ladies to see what contact I’d made with them over the years.
I heard from Dawn Wells in the early 1980s. I feel the same disappointment I felt when I first opened the envelope. Her PR folks sent a disappointing form letter with a printed signature.
The accompanying photograph was nice, but it also had the dreaded printed autograph. Drats!!
I’m not sure what I said 30 years ago, but when I pulled the photo from my files this morning, I responded, “Crapola,” a mild form of cursing I use when I don’t want to say what I really feel.
Tina Louise was a different story. I wrote to her somewhere in the early to mid-1980s. I sent her a photograph and asked her two questions: When you were modeling in college, did you ever expect you would find fame in films and on television? Did you know Marilyn Monroe? Here is her response.
I transcribe for you: “1. No I didn’t because I was to(o) young to imagine I could and was happy just doing what I was doing. 2. Yes I loved Marilyn but I never met her but many friends of hers.” I assume Tina meant that many of her friends did meet Marilyn.
Here is the photo she signed for me.
Of the hundreds, probably thousands, of hours I spent in front of the television growing up, there are few moments from those shows that I remember. The episode where Tina (as Ginger) sings I Wanna be Loved by You is the one that sticks in my mind. Ginger is luscious, sultry, and stunningly beautiful. I loved her hair. I adored her gowns. I coveted her boa.
When my classmates asked which I character I most wanted to make out with, I kept quiet. Now, decades later, I can confess. I didn’t want to have sex with either Mary Ann or Ginger.
I wanted to BE Ginger Grant!