Friday, November 9, 2012

NGoN #150: Juanin Clay

When Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was released in theaters, Erin Gray was cast as Colonel Wilma Deering, the foil and love interest of Buck Rogers. When the show was conceived, Gray had not committed to the role. Consideration was high for a relatively new face, Juanin Clay.

Clay began her acting credits with the role of Raven Alexander on the soap opera The Edge of Night. She did two television movies before being featured in the BRit25C episode "Vegas in Space", in which she (as Maj. Marla Landers) accompanies Buck to a pleasure planet. Erin Gray only appears briefly in the episode, so perhaps they were throwing their number-two choice for Wilma Deering a bone?

Clay's feature film roles were as Amy Striker in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (William A. Fraker, 1981) and as Pat Healy in WarGames (John Badham, 1983). Aside from these she did several other television films and guest appearances on shows [IMDb].

Sadly, I am only familiar with Clay from the "Vegas in Space" episode of Buck Rogers, but it is clear that she would have handled the role of Wilma Deering nicely. The Marla Landers character is very much like Wilma Deering in behavior and attitude, and Clay's performance is a series standout. I love Buck Rogers, but let's face it, there was quite the stream of bad actors in there.

Clay died in 1995. The cause of death seems to have not been released, as the IMDb claims she died of a "heart ailment" and Wikipedia contends it was from breast cancer.

Juanin Clay as Major Marla Landers in "Vegas in Space"


Wings1295 said...

Didn't know there was ever another possible Wilma! Clay is pretty, reminds me of a young Stephanie Beacham. :)

Darius Whiteplume said...

I certainly can't imagine another one! I also forgot the original was a theatrical release, but then they did that with Battlestar Galactica, save that they released it in theaters after the television broadcast. This irked a young me to no end. I assume, but cannot confirm, that Erin Gray was not interested in doing a television show at that point, or was holding out for more money. Can't blame her, she is a big part of the show's appeal.

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