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See Ginger, the Last Living "Gilligan's Island" Castaway, Now at 88

Tina Louise played the iconic role over 50 years ago.

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip/That started from this tropic port/Aboard this tiny ship." The Gilligan's Island intro is one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of all time, and the show is one of the most beloved series. It aired from 1964 to 1967, and each week, viewers got to see how Gilligan and his group of fellow castaways fared on their remote island. Sadly, only one of the main cast members of the series is still alive today. Tina Louise, who played Ginger on Gilligan's Island, is the only surviving star of the show, following the death of Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, in December 2020.

It's been over 50 years since Gilligan's Island was on the air, and much has changed for Louise in that time. She welcomed a daughter and grandchildren, written books, continued acting, and carried on the legacy of the classic series. Read on to find out more about Louise's life today.

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Louise's acting career continued on after the show.

Tina Louise in the "Gilligan's Island" intro
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Louise might be best known as Ginger, but that was far from her only part. She had a successful career in the theater and on screen prior to being cast on Gilligan's Island, as well as afterward. Some of her projects following the show include The Wrecking Crew, The Stepford Wives, and Dallas. Her film and TV career has slowed in recent years, but she appeared in a movie as recently as 2019, co-starring with Stephen Baldwin in Tapestry.

She wrote a memoir.

Tina Louise at the premiere of "Kate & Leopold" in 2001
Everett Collection /

In 1997, Louise wrote a memoir titled Sunday: A Memoir, and she is interested in seeing it adapted into a film. "Well, you know I had a very unusual childhood," she told Authority Magazine in 2019. "I wrote a book about my first eight years called Sunday. I also have the beginnings of a script. I've always wanted to make a movie of it." She explained of her upbringing, "I lived with a lot of different cousins and aunts and strangers and so forth and so on."

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She's also written children's books.

Tina Louise at the Museum of Modern Art and Luce Cinecitta's Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man Retrospective in 2018
Lars Niki/Getty Images for MoMA

Louise has devoted herself to getting young children interested in reading, and she's volunteered to read books to kids in her home of New York City for years, as reported by the New York Post. She's also written two of her own children's books. When I Grow Up was published in 2007, and What Does a Bee Do? came out in 2009.

In the 2019 interview with Authority Magazine, Louise shared that she was interested in writing a book for her grandchildren. "We have two new babies in our family, Clementine and Kingston," she shared. "They're one and a half. Maybe I will write another children's book for them. I haven't figured out yet what it's going to be."

She has one daughter and two grandchildren.

Caprice Crane and Tina Louise at opening night of "Lucky Guy" in 2011
Michael Stewart/WireImage via Getty Images

Speaking of her family, Louise welcomed her only child, Caprice Crane, with her ex-husband, announcer and talk show host Les Crane. Caprice is a novelist and screenwriter, who has worked on the reboots of 90210 and Melrose Place and co-wrote the movie Love, Wedding, Marriage.

In an October 2021 interview with the New York Post, Louise said she was still open to dating. "I'm open. I'm open. I'm open to life," she said, but added, "These days, I'm still not going out very far. If I go out with a friend, it's once in two weeks." She also said that she believes age is just a number. "Don't number me. Who needs it?" she explained. "Numbers are not what you look like or how you live your life."

She says, despite rumors to the contrary, that she's proud to be a part of Gilligan's Island history.

Tina Louise in 2022
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for FLC

Louise did not take part in the Gilligan's Island reunion movies that happened over the years, but in a December 2020 interview with the New York Post, she claimed that rumors she resents the show aren't true.

"She felt that it had hindered her career as a dramatic actress," Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz said in an interview with the Television Academy.

"Never true—I loved doing my part," Louis told the Post of the assumption that she resented the show, "especially after they really started writing for my character, originally billed as a 'Marilyn Monroe' type of character. A different director took over and really started to write for my character."

Schwartz also recalled to the Television Academy that Louise told him once about a woman who approached her at a restaurant and shared a story about her dying husband, who was only comforted by watching Gilligan's Island episodes from his hospital bed. "I think it gave her a little insight into the impact that just performers can make," the writer said.

"We brought a lot of joy to people and still do," Louis said in her Post interview. "This show is an escape from so many things going on. Fathers share it with their children now. I get letters all the time about that."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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