On This Date in History: If I am not mistaken, Elizabeth Carter Symon was born on this date in 1898. My grandmother lived to see February 11, 1998. It always amazed me that she was born in the Oklahoma Territory. I’ve seen a photo of her and her best friend in a horse and buggy. She and her best friend went on to marry two men who were friends as well. They remained as such for the rest of their lives. Think about it. My grandmother was born in Oklahoma before it was a state, rode around in a horse and buggy and in her lifetime, the invention of the automobile, the airplane, the atomic bomb and numerous medical breakthroughs took place. She saw her territory become a state and saw man walk on the moon. When she began there was no radio, no phonograph, no tv and probably not too many phones or running water where she grew up. She did go to college though, which was rare in those days for a woman. So many other things changed during her lifetime including the notable birth of Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker on this date in 1934.
Tatiana was born in New York and was raised by her mother, Betty Horn, who was a fashion model. She went by the name Tina Blacker and told her high school teacher that she was the only girl in class without a middle name. At the age of 17, she began taking acting classes and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. At 17, she started taking acting classes and did some modeling, showing up in some old “pin-up” magazines such as Modern Man and Adam, Sir! In 1952, Tina made her acting debut on Broadway in a Bette Davis musical revue called Two’s Company. More Broadway shows followed as did appearances in Playboy in May 1958 and April 1959. I guess Hef must have dug her to put her in twice. She probably caught his attention when she gained notoriety in 1957 for her performance with future Catwoman Julie Newmar in the Broadway adaptation of Li’l Abner. That same year, she released an album with a couple of popular tunes, “Embraceable You” and “I’m in the Mood for Love.” I mean, 1957 alone must have screamed “Hef! Hef!” for the budding star and she seemed destined for greatness. And you know what, she became a household name; even to this day.
She had film roles in the early 1960’s as a leading lady for the likes of Robert Ryan, Richard Widmark and Robert Taylor. She turned down a role in Operation Petticoat, which would have put her on the wide screen with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. She opted instead for more Broadway shows. Then, in 1964, she teamed up with Bob Denver in a beach party movie called For Those Who Think Young. No one remembers that movie but Tina will always remember that as the catalyst that changed her career and life. You see, Denver was set to star in a new TV Show in 1964 and she took the role that was turned down by Jayne Mansfield. Tina had taken as a stage name the middle name her high school teacher had given her, which was Louise. Tina Louise starred in Gilligan’s Island as Ginger Grant. She became unhappy with the role as she feared she would be typecast. She was right. But, she also became a television icon.
She continued her career and even had a memorable role in The Stepford Wives. But, for all the acting credentials, playboy shoots and pinups, she will always be remembered as Ginger and be part of arguments over the question that will last forever: “Ginger or Mary Anne?” While she generally refused to reprise the role of Ginger in any of the follow up movies related to Gilligan’s Island, she did make cameos on a few talk shows with a reunion theme. While she may have tried to run from her role as Ginger, she couldn’t hide. In fact, in 2005, TV Land listed her as 2nd all time in that cable channel’s top ten greatest sex-symbols of TV. I once had a job in which I got to see all 98 episodes of Gilligan’s Island as I edited and dubbed the entire series. I could watch every show frame by frame. An interesting way to try to analyze the question: Ginger or Mary Ann? And, it provided answers to other questions: The Skipper was Jonas Grumby, the Professor was Roy Hinkley, Mary Ann’s last name was Summers and Gilligan was never given a last name, though creator Sherwood Schwartz once said that Gilligan was his last name.
Weather Bottom Line: Believe the hype; it’s going to warm up. The oscillation over the Arctic changed last week which had been oriented such that the North Pole has been warm all season and the continental US so cold has flipped. It takes a little while for the change to come down stream but it will come. The jet stream will move well north and we’ll be pushing toward 60 by the end of next week. If this shift persists, then winter is effectively over…but…it could shift back..after all it is an El Nino year so enjoy it while you can.