For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.
It’s hard to have been a young TV viewer from the late-1970s through the early-1990s without coming across the versatile performances of Erin Gray.
Erin was born in Honolulu in the territory of Hawaii (it wasn’t officially made a state until a few years after her birth). She moved in with her grandparents when she was eight due to her parents’ separation. A few years later she entered the field of modeling.
At 14, she won a major modeling competition, earning her first professional assignment in St. Louis, Missouri. At 17 she made her television debut as a dancer on the program Malibu U.
She briefly attended UCLA but left to return to modeling in New York where she also pursued television gigs. By the age of 25 she was regarded as one of the top television models and was earning over $100,000 per year.
Over the next few years she won guest appearances on shows such as Maude, The Rockford Files, BJ and the Bear and Police Story.
By the age of 28 she landed a co-starring role in the original sci-fi classic Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
According to Filmbug.com, Gray thought her character made a landmark accomplishment as she was cast as a colonel, which she said was the first time a woman on television was placed in charge of men. She was quoted as saying that her character “sparked a new idea that women can be in charge, too.”
She followed that performance with another leading role in a show geared at younger TV viewers. The comedy Silver Spoons was the show that launched Ricky Schroeder into superstar status in the early 1980s as a teen heartthrob. The entire cast was on NBC’s Today show a few years ago, marking the 25th anniversary of that show’s pilot. On that reunion program Gray and all her cast members recalled that the on-screen chemistry was real and the four lead characters have remained great friends to this day.
For the next decade, Erin would have recurring roles or guest star on some of the biggest television shows of the time period, appearing as Monica Johnson, who was Mitch (David Hasselhoff) Buchanan’s boss on Baywatch and as Jenny Hayden on another sci-fi show, Starman. Just some of her guest spots on popular 1980s television shows included: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hotel, Hunter, Simon and Simon, Vega$, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, Murder, She Wrote, LA Law, Evening Shade, The New Lassie, Burke’s Law, Jake and the Fatman, Silk Stalkings and Superboy.
She also starred on the big screen in one of the popular “Jason” horror serial films, Jason Goes To Hell, as well as co-starring in the Kenny Rogers film Six Pack. Gray also starred in one of the Perry Mason television specials: The Case of the Avenging Ace.
She also co-wrote a book entitled, “Act Right,” which lends advice to new actors and tips for people looking to get into the performing arts.
In the later 1990s she transitioned away from acting and became a casting agent, a profession in which she remains active to this day. However, over the last two decades, she has appeared occasionally in television shows, web series and lending her voice to video games. She did star in another big screen production – the 2011 movie Dreams Awake.
To catch Erin Gray during the peak of her on-screen popularity, tune in and set your DVRs for her starring performance in 1980’s Coach of the Year, airing this Tuesday morning at 9am on the Astound TV Network.
To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.