Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Babes of Trek

As I've been known to observe, sci-fi has never really been my thing. Nonetheless, back in my fledgling days, even I wasn't wholly immune to the backcombed charms of the many, many actresses who came and went on Star Trek.

What is a surprise, though, is how very many of them there were, and how many of them are still names that ring a bell or two. Everyone, of course, remembers Uhura, and it was more or less an inevitable stop for someone like 60s freelancer Joan Collins:

Most, it seems, of the lower echelon of the starlet firmament made their way through one or another of the galaxies the plucky Enterprisers encountered. Most are utterly forgotten names: Alyce Andrece, Grace Lee Whitney, Lois Jewell.

Alongside them are ladies only vaguely familiar, just from having popped up on the scene often enough over enough years. Nancy Kovack, for example, co-starred with Elvis, did this guestshot, was almost Samantha in "Bewitched," and ended up swanning around LA society as Mrs. Zubin Mehta.

Lee Meriwether made her mark as Barnaby's Jones's faithful secretary, but first she joined the bat-browed sisterhood for an hour.

Mariette Hartley's episode must have been mercifully surpressed; otherwise, 80s viewers would have been horrified to realize that, in her commercials with James Garner, she was nearly as old as he...

Some familiar names are quite hidden under the makeup. Yvonne Craig, for example, looked more sophisticated (and photosynthetic) on ST than ever she did as Bat Girl.

While another Gotham City regular, Julie Newmar, looks positively demure compared to her usual feline persona.

We're apt to forget now that someone like Sally Kellerman was, for a while, a very Grade A name; even the worst of ST's jewel-toned velour creations couldn't hide why.

While of all her sisters, Teri Garr looks most like she, like me, is wondering what on - not earth, of course, but some place requiring boldly going - she is doing there.

Even so, those pastels, on her, are truly flattering, although her hair appears to be in danger of disappearing, Beautiful Chrissy-style, back into her head.

The lesson I, as a baby viewer, took away was clear: no matter how distant the planet, how exotic the galaxy, inevitably the inhabitants had the best and latest in haircare and makeup. Today, that's not even true of the average local mall; another little victory for classic television over that overrated phenomenon, Real Life.

(Gallery of Star Gals courtesy of the very fetching Eeknight)

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