We continue our look back at the classic hotties of the 70s and 80s with yet another much beloved hottie for many of my generation. There was hardly a geek back in the day that wasn't smitten with Erin Gray. One of the original sci-fi TV fantasy women, she was, for a time, the standard by which all other geek goddesses were judged. A major fixture in television in general right up to the present day, in her day she helped introduce more than a few young tikes to the benefits of impending adulthood, your friendly columnist among them.
Erin started out in this world a golden-skinned Hawaiian, born to those shores in 1950. When her parents divorced, she and her mother wound up in various towns throughout California, eventually settling in Los Angeles. While still in high school, Erin had a chance meeting with the head of one of the top modelling agencies in the country, who instantly saw her potential. In no time, Erin was not only living the life of a glamorous model, but quickly rising to the top in her profession.
Already a phenomenon in the modelling world by the time she graduated high school, Erin made a stab at college, attending UCLA for a time. The bright lights of fame proved too strong for a mathematics degree to supplant, and before her first year of college was complete, Erin and her pretty self had been lulled away by the mesmerizing call of life as a full time model in the late 1960s. Soon she was modelling for the likes of L'Oréal, Max Factor and Bloomingdale's. By her mid 20's, she was making 6-figures a year - not bad for a model in the mid 70s.
In the time honored tradition of many an actress before her, Erin's ambitions as a top tier model soon turned to Hollywood. After moving out to Tinseltown in the late '70s, Erin got herself a role in a movie-of-the-week. Sufficiently impressing the powers that were with her performance and especially her appearance, Erin was signed to an 8-year contract with Universal Television. This lead to Erin's greatest claim to fame, as Colonel Wilma Deering on the classic 70s sci-fi show Buck Rogers In the 25th Century. You tikes probably don't know what the hell that is, though if you've watched that episode of South Park where Cartman is frozen and wakes up in the future, you at least know something about the awesome intro to that show.
Knowing their new show was going to appeal to a predominantly male, adolescent audience, the folks behind Buck Rogers understood the best way to utilize their lead actress. Their imminently wise decision was to pack Erin's sublime body into a number of shiny jumpsuits, so tight that they had to be literally sewn around her lovely curves. Clearly Erin served as the show's main sex appeal during its run, but she was also a positive image for the one or two young girls who tuned in every week. Only second behind lead actor Gil Gerard, her character was probably one of the first female commanding officers on television, if not entertainment in general - a fact Erin is still proud of to this day.
Unfortunately, Buck Rogers only lasted a couple seasons. Erin moved on to other shows after that, doing guest star roles here and there, until she found her next big hit with another youth-oriented show called Silver Spoons. Erin once again brought the hotness as Kate Summers, the assistant to the rich, immature father on the show who is forced to raise his estranged son, played by a young Ricky Schroder. The show was a hit, thanks in part to the appearance of several popular toys played with by characters in the show - toys that often became big sellers during the holidays thanks to their involvement in the show. Silver Spoons also paid attention to story and character development, addressing issues of bullying, child abuse and homelessness via their memorable "very special" episodes. Such frankness was a rarity for TV directed at youths, making it a ground-breaking show in many ways. Silver Spoons ran for 6 seasons from '82 to '87.
Ever since then, Erin has been a regular fixture on TV, making appearances on several shows and commercials over the last quarter century. She's written books and also owns her own casting company, specializing in booking former sci-fi show actors for special events and whatnot. She's also a fixture in the convention scene, warmly greeting her fans and and autographing memorabilia from her days as a defender of Earth.
Recognized for her obvious physical beauty early on, Erin also turned out to have an inner beauty too which allowed her to play sympathetic characters that many a grown up infant like myself will never forget. 63 years later, it's so nice to see that Erin is still the charming, beautiful, unforgettable woman she always was.