Today would have been the 81st birthday of Susan Oliver, actress and director, who died in 1990. If you don’t recognize her in B&W, the color shot should ring a bell:

Susan Oliver publicity photo

Susan Oliver in Star Trek

Yep. That’s Vina from “The Cage,” the original Star Trek pilot, much of which was incorporated into the episode “The Menagerie.” (Of course, she didn’t really look like that.)

Perhaps more interesting than her middling Hollywood career, though, was her life in the sky, which began with, of all things, a turbulent flight. From her Wikipedia bio:

She was a passenger aboard the Clipper Washington, a Boeing 707 on a transatlantic flight from Paris to New York City when it dropped from 35,000 feet to 6000 feet. It was February 3, 1959, the same day Buddy Holly died in an airplane crash. These events caused her to avoid flying for the next year, even turning down job offers (with the exception of auditioning for BUtterfield 8) if they were so short notice she could only travel by air. She eventually underwent hypnosis to overcome her fear of flying.

The fear eventually gave way to sheer delight:

In 1968 she was contacted by Learjet to see if she was interested in getting a type rating in one of their jets with the intent to set record flights for them. She earned the rating and even flew some charters (having by that time acquired a commercial pilot certificate in single and multiengine land airplanes).

Lest Susan Oliver be forgotten, filmmaker George Pappy has launched a Kickstarter for a biopic, to be titled The Green Girl. I’m in.


  1. formwiz »

    16 February 2013 · 3:31 pm

    She had far more than a “middling” acting career and deserves to be remembered for more than a failed pilot for a short-lived TV show.

    She was an excellent and highly in-demand actress of the 50s and 60s, a graduate of Swarthmore College (when it still meant something). and died far too young.

    Give the lady some respect, please.

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