Home News Local news From 'Gilligan's Island' to the Big Island: Tina Louise Gives Books to Children

From 'Gilligan's Island' to the Big Island: Tina Louise Gives Books to Children

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Jan. 22, 2008 — Tina Louise, who played Ginger, the glamorous starlet on the 1960s TV comedy TV "Gilligan's Island," came to Frederiksted Tuesday and gave copies of her picture book to students.
She signed and personally handed out 130 copies of her book When I Grow Up to Claude O. Markoe Elementary students in kindergarten through second grade. It was one of many public appearances she made on the island. Last weekend she took part in Good Hope School's fund-raising Beach Bash, and she will do a book signing from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Undercover Book Store in Gallows Bay.
"I'm so excited to be here," said Louise, who now focuses on giving inspirational speeches and working as a literacy advocate. "I just love what I'm doing with children."
She read the book to the students assembled in the cafeteria. Tall and slim with long, straight, light red hair, Louise wore jeans and a white, long-sleeved, V-neck tee. She little resembled the "movie star" she played in the popular situation comedy, which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967 and has remained popular ever since in syndication and on networks such as Nick at Night and TV Land.
Her book's storyline is based on animals' unique and amazing skills, drawing parallels to children being able to do amazing things when they grow up. One example is spiders spinning elaborate webs and children becoming architects and designing elaborate buildings.
Louise asked the students what they wanted to be when they grow up. She asked if they knew what an author was.
One child asked Louise how she came up with the idea for the book. Louise told the students she knows children love animals and can relate to them, so that's how she came up with the comparisons. Another asked her how long it took to finish the book. She told the students she started the book in 1998 and it was finally printed in 2007.
"It is easy to begin writing a book," Louise said. "All you need to do is write your thoughts in a notebook."
The hardback book with busy graphics, done in bright colors of turquoise, yellow and red, was illustrated by Oliver Corwin and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Portions of the proceeds from the sale of the book go to literacy programs.
Francie Whittenburg, a close friend of Louise for years, was instrumental in getting her to come to the gala Beach Bash last weekend.
Whittenburg also belongs to the Women's Initiative, a non-profit group whose mission is giving to schools and students on St. Croix, and which sponsored the book distribution. Close to 500 books were purchased and given to St. Croix students this week.
"Things such as book donations mean so much to the students," said Kent Moorehead, principal at Claude O. Markoe. "We really appreciate what the Women's Initiative does."
The group's efforts in the last four years — even just providing bookshelves — filter down to the children, he said.
Louise, who is on her second trip to St. Croix, said her first book, a memoir called Sunday, written about her childhood, was published in 1997. Her acting career began at 18. "Gilligan's Island" was a campy series about a group of people stranded on a "desert isle." It was produced by Sherwood Schwartz, who later created "The Brady Bunch." The show was originally broadcast in black and white but later switched to color. Shipwrecked with Louise on the deserted island were stars such as Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, and Jim Backus, who played "the millionaire," Thurston Howell the Third.
Now Louise is doing what she says she loves best: volunteering as a tutor in the New York City public libraries.
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