Tina Louise was born Tina Blacker in New York City, the daughter of Sylvia (Horn) and Joseph Blacker, who owned a candy store. Tina was still in her teens when she burst upon the national scene by starring on Broadway in the critically acclaimed box-office success “Li’l Abner”, based on the famous comic strip character created by Al Capp. Stellar reviews caught the attention of Hollywood and Tina signed up for her first feature film, God’s Little Acre (1958), which was an entry in the Venice Film Festival. It was at this point in her career that she began studying with Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio in New York because she believed it was “time to develop and deepen my knowledge of the craft . . . Lee Strasberg,” says Tina, “had the most dynamic effect on me. He influenced my life as no other man ever has.”
After several more films, Tina returned to Broadway to star with Carol Burnett in “Fade in, Fade Out”. She continued her work in Hollywood, starring in the CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island (1964) as Ginger Grant. Moving among Broadway, television and motion pictures, she next starred in The Happy Ending (1969), directed by Richard Brooks, The Stepford Wives (1975) with Katherine Ross and Dog Day (1984), with Lee Marvin and French actress Miou-Miou. Tina was cast as a regular on the first season of Dallas (1978) and has profuse credits in made-for-TV films for ABC and NBC, including Friendships, Secrets and Lies (1979), The Day the Women Got Even (1980), Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (1976) and the famed ABC movie Nightmare in Badham County (1976).
In 1991 Tina appeared in Johnny Suede (1991), in which she co-starred with Brad Pitt. The film marked the debut of director Tom DiCillo, and won the 1992 Gold Leopard Award for Best Picture at the 44th International Film Festival at Lorcano, Switzerland. Other film and television work followed, including Stephan Elliott Welcome to Woop Woop (1997) and Growing Down in Brooklyn (2000), and she guest-starred in the syndicated television series L.A. Heat (1996).
In 2004 she received the coveted TVLand Pop Culture Icon Award in Los Angeles, which was aired nationally. She has made numerous television appearances, from The Rosie O’Donnell Show (1996) to Entertainment Tonight (1981) and Access Hollywood (1996).
A unique opportunity pursued Tina in 2005 with IGT (International Game Technology) in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, when she inked a six-figure deal in exchange for 80 lines of voice-over work for a highly publicized gaming machine, a MegaJackpots product with the chance to win $1 million. The slot machines appeared in casinos from coast-to-coast as well as internationally.
Tina is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the Actors Studio. As a literacy and academic advocate, she became a volunteer teacher at Learning Leaders, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing tutoring to New York City school children. It has been her passion to help young students gain not only literary skills, but also confidence, self-determination and proof of their own potential. Besides continuing her volunteer work in literacy, she has written several books. Her first book, a personal memoir on her first eight years entitled “Sunday”, was published in 1998. She followed Sunday, with a children’s book, “When I Grow Up”, published in 2007. “Teaching children the skill of reading and a love for the written word is important because this will remain with them throughout their lives. If we can reach children at an early age, I believe it will make a difference. This thought brings me tremendous joy.” Says Tina. She embarked on a book tour that included New York City and then continued to New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, Philadelphia and the Festival of Books at UCLA. Her third book, “What Does a Bee Do?” was published in 2009 (available only at Amazon.com) and was inspired by The Colony Collapse Disorder, otherwise known as Honey Bee Depopulation Syndrome. The book continues to be an educational tool for children, as well as adults and was recently approved by Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City Public Schools, and is tentatively awaiting on the E-Catalog for principals in the fall of 2010. An animated version of “What Does a Bee Do?” is in development.
Besides being an accomplished actress and author, she recorded an album, “It’s Time for Tina”, a sultry warm and breathy collection of standards. The enchanting album features music from saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins and lyrics and music by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Jule Styne and Cole Porter. She also made her debut as a visual artist when she exhibited her paintings at the Ambassador Galleries, and later with newer works at the notable Gallery Stendhal in Soho. Most recently she exhibited her original paintings at the Patterson Museum of Art. Tina Louise continues to live in New York City.
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