DATELINE: Character Actress Emeritus
You know her from Star Trek. She danced exotically for Christopher Pike (Jeff Hunter) in the pilot episode.
Susan Oliver was not a dancer, and she was never green except in this one show. During the 1950s through the 1960s, she was the most prolific TV guest star of the era, often receiving special billing for roles in everything from crime dramas like Burke’s Law and Cain’s Hundred to westerns like Wagon Train and Rawhide.
She never wanted a series for herself—and turned down shows like I Dream of Jeannie.
She was a product of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York as a stage star with Sanford Meisner where she worked with Jan Merlin, David Hedison, and Larry Hagman. We loved seeing Roy Thinnes, Peter Mark Richmond, Kathy Nolan, and Lee Merriwether, talking fondly of her.
During her starlet days at Warner Brothers, they shuttled her out to escort gay stars like Sal Mineo, James MacArthur, and Tony Perkins, and gave her meagre roles in movies like Butterfield 8 with Elizabeth Taylor.
A consummate pro, she remained true to herself, becoming a familiar face on weekly series.
The biographical documentary is loaded with faces from the 60s who worked with her—and all admired her.
She never married, being consumed by her career, though she was serious about Sandy Koufax, the baseball legend, and even dated Mickey Mantle.
While she looked young for 30 years, roles started to melt away in the 1970s—and she took up flying. She was a pilot, which surprised most of her Hollywood friends who were told during the documentary. She was the first woman to pilot a Leer jet.
Susan Oliver died too young of cancer in 1990, and we are so glad that someone took time to commit so many marvelous clips to this biography.