HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME (LOVABLY UNDERRATED CELEBRITIES) by JONATHAN KIERAN
TODAY’S FORTUNATE HONOREE: TINA LOUISE (Actress, Singer, Author, Model, Humanitarian, Rival of Ockham’s Razor as Philosophical/Existential “Debate”)
PEDESTAL-WORTHY LEGACY: “Ginger” on TV’s excruciatingly immortal Gilligan’s Island; “Charmaine Wimpiris,” one of the original Stepford Wives; “Griselda” in God’s Little Acre; J.R. Ewing’s ill-fated secretary, “Julie,” on the original Dallas series; It’s Time for Tina album of scintillating pop standards; NYC Public School System literacy volunteer; Full 50% of the Universe’s Now-Permanent “Ginger or MaryAnn?” Conundrum!
GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: SST:Death Flight and Evils of the Night — two worthy contenders for “So Bad It’s Hilarious” film-making DIM-MORTALITY. We forgive Tina thoroughly for these atrocities — it was probably a “transitional time” in her oeuvre.
RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Red-headed bombshell/pin-up girl and musical-variety actress who tantalized audiences in the 1950s and early 1960s with a series of breakout roles and projects that eventually could not compete with her immortality-securing stint as “Ginger” the Hollywood vixen “castaway” on Gilligan’s Island. Louise’s role on the 3-season fluff-series made her a household name (and the fantasy-girl of millions of males) during the program’s initial run, but almost 50 years of worldwide syndication has made Tina Louise a certifiable legend. The “Ginger” role also, unfortunately, pigeon-holed her stardom, despite an actually impressive list of dramatic/comedic gigs underscoring this beauty’s versatility as a performer. She has worked with some of cinema’s finest directors (Altman, Rossellini) and starred alongside some of its most sought-after leading men (Johny Depp, Howard Keel, Jackie Gleason, Robert Ryan) while carving-out a “constantly-working” career that none of her fellow castaways could really match in terms of diversity or longevity. Lately, Louise has distinguished herself as an author of children’s books, a dedicated literacy volunteer, and is in fact the mother of well-known humorist/writer Caprice Crane. Louise’s 1957 It’s Time for Tina album of pop standards has been reissued several times to warm reviews and enthusiastic reception by fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, Tina still looks chic and lovely (and she’s gotta be close to –ahem– 80?). We are firmly “Team Ginger” here at the HazMat.
DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “Wahine wiki huki luki nu, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.” (“Ginger” on Gilligan’s Island)
BRUSH WITH GREATNESS: Tina Louise scooped up a Golden Globe trophy in 1957 as Best New Star for her well-received performance in the classic God’s Little Acre. She studied at the Actor’s Studio with the likes of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and is a lifetime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In the late 1990s, Tina was voted the No.2 “Most Iconic Sex Symbol in TV History” by TVLand viewers (just behind Heather Locklear). Take THAT, MaryAnn, with your coconut cream pies and pigtails!
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Tina lives and works in New York City, happily ensconced on the island of Manhattan, attending film premiers and fashion events. She spends a few days each week volunteering as a literacy advocate and is reportedly writing her autobiography. We can’t wait — this lady has seen it all in Hollywood and she’s seen it up at the sharp end.
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: You’ve all experienced Tina’s sexy juju on Gilligan’s Island, but here’s a gander at one of her other iconic, signature roles: Charmaine Wimperis on 1975’s legendary The Stepford Wives.
~I have written a new series of contemporary fantasy/horror books about a cynical 2,000 year-old sorcerer stranded among mortals and forced to feel sympathy for humans when a nasty goddess plans a mass-extermination. You know … one of those “everyday” occurrences. My warlock’s name is Rowan Blaize, the books are the kind that adults (and even young adults) will find fiendishly delicious in that mythical Star Wars-y universal Good vs. Evil sense (with some twists, I admit) and you can buy them here, at Amazon, in Kindle or paperback format, a mere click away. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. I care. – Jonathan Kieran