fictoid: The Role She Was Born To Play
She played a minor character in a minor sci-fi TV series, the alien sidekick to the show’s engineering officer. She appeared in most of the episodes, even though the make-up must have been staggering to endure. She looked like nothing human.
The gimmick when she appeared on the show was that you were never supposed to know her real name or see her real face. Like Karloff in the original Frankenstein movie, she was always billed as “?” but fans, snoopy fans, went through all the minutia of the show and found her real name, that she was a distant cousin of the producer.
Ah, nepotism. No working actor was willing to endure the long make-up but the producer had a relative who would.
The studio unofficially acknowledged her though they kept the gag going by never allowing photos of her sans make-up.
The show went off the air but like most sci-fi series it inspired a coterie of fans who Would Not Let It Go. And so they wrote to everyone on the show including her and she wrote back and some jerks later had the nerve to complain that she wrote back too often, making her autograph too common, until it wasn’t worth as much as the star or co-stars.
It took years to persuade her to attend a convention and when she did, she showed up in full make-up and costume.
Time passed. Other actors, other shows caught the fans’ interest. Her appearances diminished but never fully stopped.
I saw her at a small Arizona convention and I went up to tell her how much the show meant to me as a kid. She smiled -- or at least did the thing her character did when her character did what passed for smiling on the show and I noticed she had not done her make-up with the same smooth look she wore as a young actress but with wrinkles and age spots. Then I realized -- I saw -- what none of the other fans had ever seen because they had always focused on the character, not the actress.
She didn’t wear make-up.
She didn’t have to.
She was born that way.
text © Buzz Dixon