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Life is an Isle for the “Real” Mrs. Howell

Somehow it makes sense that Mindy Burbano Stearns is portraying the wealthy and wacky Lovey Howell on the new TBS reality show, “The Real Gilligan’s Island.”

After all, this is the woman who cock-a-doodle-do’d her way to fame on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” eight years ago after audience members were asked to share an interesting talent.

Since then, life’s been something to crow about for Stearns, a former Forest Grove dental hygienist whom Oprah dubbed “the Rooster Lady” — and still considers one of her favorite guests.

Stearn’s portrayal of Mrs. Howell caps a six-year run as an entertainment reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles and last year’s fairy-tale wedding to Glenn Stearns, who’s playing Thurston Howell III in the show.

The role of the lock-jawed tycoon is hardly a stretch for the 40-year-old entrepreneur, worth an estimated $500 million.

Two sets of castaways mimic the original seven-member cast of “Gilligan’s Island” on the reality show, filmed on an unidentified island in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Part “Survivor” and part sitcom, the show has 14 contestants who undertake a series of competitions based on original episodes that will produce one rescued castaway — or one couple, in the case of the Stearnses and the other couple portraying the Howells.

The Stearnses dismissed the idea of applying for the show when they first learned of it.

“We originally thought it would take us away from work for too long,” she says. “So when we heard it was only going to be three weeks, we decided to go for it. The next thing we knew, they had called us, we interviewed and we were on an island. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that money couldn’t buy.”

Money also couldn’t buy a Marriott hotel on the undeveloped atoll near Cozumel.

“The tropics are wonderful, but it’s a whole different thing when you’re stranded with no mattress and no creature comforts — none of the usual things you take on a nice vacation,” says the 35-year-old Stearns.

Her husband did enjoy some comfort in the form of an outdoor shower taken with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Rachel Hunter, one of the two B-list celebs on the show. She and “Baywatch” babe Nicole Eggert are the show’s two Gingers.

“Glenn got to take a shower with Rachel while I pedaled a bike to make the shower flow,” Stearns says without a trace of bitterness.

There was, however, no love lost between the two sets of Howells.

“They were definitely the biggest challenge for us,” she says of the contentious relationship they had with the Kentucky couple worth a measly three mil. “She absolutely hated my rooster call, so of course I had to do it all the time.”

Like the original Thurston and Lovey, the Stearns were the only castaways wise enough to overpack for the three-hour tour.

“Glenn and I each had a trunk full of clothing; he wore a different ascot every day,” Stearns says. “Everyone else had to wear the same thing the entire time.”

A parasol and white gloves helped her channel the social-lite.

“You can’t help but get into the character when you have the whole wardrobe,” Stearns says. “But even though I had my ditzy Lovey moments, I got down and dirty, too. I helped with the fishing, building and cooking.”

And now that she’s a wealthy woman herself, Stearns feels qualified to confirm the old adage’s truth: Money can’t buy happiness.

“Whatever you were before, you’ll have more of it afterward,” she says. “If you were a happy person before you had money, then you’ll be a happier person afterward. But if you’re miserable before you get it, you’ll be even more miserable later.”

‘The Real Gilligan’s Island’

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday through Dec.

Where: TBS

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Mindy’s foray into the media spotlight began with one “Cockadoodle-Doo.” Discovered by Oprah Winfrey while making animal calls as an audience member, Mindy found her true calling in the entertainment industry, leaving what she thought was a lifetime career as a dental hygienist. After that fateful show where Oprah nicknamed her “The Rooster Lady. “ Following over three hundred radio appearances, a producer took a risk on raw talent, and Mindy was hired to host the highly rated Saginaw, Michigan radio program called Mike & Mindy in the Morning. Within six months the show was rated number one and then Mindy again changed addresses, this time to be on Hollywood’s red carpet reporting for television’s Entertainment Tonight.

The Emmy nominated Stearns has made a successful career covering the world of entertainment for KTLA’s award-winning News at Ten, and the KTLA Morning News. Mindy has also appeared on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and taken on acting roles in Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and 7th Heaven. Among films like Dickie Roberts; Former Child Star, and numerous independent film projects, Mindy also appeared in the popular Disney film The Princess Diaries, in a role that Director Gary Marshall wrote specifically for her.

Mindy’s popularity on and off the Red Carpet have earned her the prestigious Golden Mike Award, two Emmy nominations and a nomination for “Entertainment Reporter of the Year” by the Publicists Guild.

Those who thought her Oprah appearance a “one hit wonder” continue to be surprised. Mindy has appeared six times on The Oprah Winfrey Show, as one of Oprah’s “favorite guests”, “The Best of Oprah”, “Rags to Riches”, and was featured in a segment that followed her life with an exclusive look into her fairy tale marriage to Glenn. The wedding was featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, and in the pages of “In Touch,” “Rivieria,” and “Orange Coast” magazines, and donned the cover of “Inside Weddings” magazine.

Mindy and her husband dabbled in the reality show world when they appeared together on TBS’ The Real Gilligan’s Island as the “Millionaire and his wife.” Her husband Glenn won the game show competition and they matched and donated the prize money to charity.

Recently named “Woman of the Year,” by California State’s 70th district Assemblyman Don Wagner, Mindy Stearns has earned the title through her tireless efforts to support and bring awareness to various charity organizations throughout Southern California. Mindy, along with her husband Glenn founded the Stearns Family Charitable Foundation and the Live Changing Lives Gala which has become the premiere Charity Gala in Orange County raising close to $4 million in 4 years. Mindy can be seen regularly bringing attention to Arts and Cultural events in Orange County on PBS SoCal’s Real Orange.

In addition to being named “Woman of the Year” Mindy has been recognized as the Soroptomist International Woman of Distinction. Glenn and Mindy have received various awards throughout the community for their contributions. Including the Canyon Acres Jim Murray Memorial Service Award, The Optimist Youth Homes Mentor Award, and American Couple of the Year at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala.

Mindy manages a blended family with two daughters of her own; 3 and 6 year old girls, 5 stepchildren (and two granddaughters) and maintains a close friendship with the mothers of all the children.

You can read more about Mindy and her husband Glenn at:


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  • Woman of the Year


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