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Go Back   Dirk's Works > Dirk Benedict: The Man, the Myth, the Legend > Parts, Roles, Performances > Battlestar Galactica > Battlestar Galactica Classic

Battlestar Galactica Classic For discussions about the classic Battlestar series which starred Dirk as the one and only "Starbuck". NO Ron Moore show posts here please.

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Old 01-15-2018, 11:39 PM   #1
ojai22
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Default LAURETTE SPANG Starlog Magazine 2001

I've had an article in iBooks on my iPad for several years, thinking to type it one day to post here, but kept putting it off because it was quite long. After it was typed I thought to post it at Laurette's website as well, and discovered that Darrell had also typed it and posted it there. Just think, I could have copied it in seconds.....

So here it is, and it is interesting. She sounds like she's as beautiful on the inside as she is the outside.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: LAURETTE SPANG Starlog Magazine 2001

SPACE NIGHTINGALE


By PAT JANKIEWICZ
STARLOG MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2001


Whether hooker or healer, Battlestar Galactica’s Laurette Spang stole fan hearts.




If Laurettte Spang has one complaint about Battlestar Galactica, it’s this: “I could have been a hot nurse!”

In playing Cassiopeia, a member of that ragtag fugitive fleet of displaced humans combing space for Earth, Spang went from a destitute and hated—but very sultry--space hooker to a loved but practically virginal healer. As she became a series regular, any suggestion of the character’s past profession was completely obscured. “That change came about when I was signed to do the series,” Spang explains. “You know why? Because I was in the pilot, but I wasn’t meant to go into the series. When they asked me to do it, they said, “The good news is you’re on the show, but the bad news is we’re going to change you. We can’t have a hooker in a prime-time TV series for children!”

“After the pilot, I came back on set and suddenly, I went from having skirts slashed all the way up to the top of my thigh and wearing high-heel shoes to wearing a dress that went to mid-calf in tan/khaki colors. I asked, ‘Can’t we split the difference, guys?’ I was disappointed there wasn’t an easier transition. Boom! I’m suddenly dressed. I didn’t mind toning her down, I understood that, but I wish they had just let me be a normal woman.

“Instead, they totally covered me from head to toe. Not that I wanted to hit on patients, mind you, but I wanted to be intelligent and let the audience discover she had a brain.” Spang shrugs. “The transition could have been much gentler than putting a laser in my hand and showing me doing heart surgery a week after I was hooking.”


BATTLE STARS

No matter how she was dressed, however, Cassiopeia made a big impression on viewers. And the series, left an impression on Spang, who looks back fondly on her time aboard the Galactica. “It was like nothing else on TV,” she says proudly. “The sets were huge, the Bridge of the Galactica was gigantic. ABC put so much money into the pilot and the show’s first year, it seemed like they were throwing money away to cancel it before giving it a second year. There are many shows that are sketchy in their first year, before they take off in their second.”

Nonetheless, Spang attributes Cassiopeia’s appeal to “her wonderful spirit. She had this naivete` in the way she saw the world. She had a really hard life, obviously. She started out as a ‘Socialator,’ basically a hooker. Making her a hooker was interesting, but they ran away from that like crazy as soon as Battlestar Galactica hit the air!”

While the transition left her wanting, Spang recalls some other favorite elements to the show, especially the cast. “I loved her romance with Starbuck. There was a reality to that,” she confides. “Dirk Benedict was so much like Starbuck at that time. He was so much fun. Dirk’s really going to hate this, but I mean this in the most loving way—he was this big ego, because he was gorgeous, wonderful and charming. I just adored him. He had every girl in love with him. Dirk and I were great pals.

“When I would go out of town, I would leave Dirk the keys to my house, because he was being hassled by the National Enquirer and followed everywhere. So I said, ‘Use my house, but keep your stinkin’ cigars outside!’ I had so much fun doing scenes with him—we had a good rapport. I would work with Dirk any time.”

As for Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo, Spang grows thoughtful. “Richard and I never got to know each other that well,” she admits. “Richard was very mysterious. I always felt that he either didn’t like me or he was too busy and intense. I looked up to him, he seemed to carry a lot on his shoulders. Whenever we were around each other, we talked very little. I regret that I didn’t get to know him better.”

Spang has nothing by praise for her Galactica Commander, Lorne Greene. “Lorne has a very special place in my heart,” she says. “He was always Ben Cartwright to me. When I got Galactica, I could not get over the fact that I would be working with Ben Cartwright!

“When I was 12 years old, his show Bonanza was on. At 9 p.m. I couldn’t stay up that late on a school night, so I would listen to it from my bedroom. I would lie there hearing that music and Ben Cartwright. He was the father figure on Galactica. We all went to him for advice, and Lorne had us all to his house occasionally. He was wonderful. When my husband and I had our first two children, Lorne and his wife sent us any presents. I don’t think there was anybody who didn’t love Lorne.”

Another Galactica girl who stood out was Jane Seymour. “Jane and I became friends,” Spang laughs. “We would lunch together. Jane impressed me, because she was so beautiful and poised. Jane and I had our first babies together and were in the same maternity class. She always pissed me off because she wore a one-piece unitard! All the other women are covering their thighs and here’s Jane, sitting there with her big belly and looking great.”

And whatever happened to the other female cast member, Maren Jensen? “I have no idea,”, the bewildered actress states. “None of us know. It’s a big mystery. A few people tried to track her down, but I don’t know what happened to Maren. We lost track of her mid-season on Galactica. She left the show and Annie (Lockhart) came in to replace her. Maren kept to herself and never had any problems. She had a good time doing the show, and then nobody ever heard from her again!”

Then there was Muffit, Galactica’s K-9 counterpart to R2-D2. “Oh, I loved the daggit,” Spang notes. “What made the daggit so lovable was that there was a monkey inside. Evie the monkey always let you know how she felt. There was one day on the Bridge—with the whole cast—and the daggit comes running in, with that funny little sound made.

“We’re all very tired, it’s the end of a long, long day on this huge set. Here comes Evie, who decides to pull off the daggit head and throw it on the floor! The director yells, ‘Cut, cut, cut!’ We stop, the trainer makes sure Evie’s cool, they screw the daggit head back on, start up again—and Evie does it several more times. This monkey had just had it! She was letting us know, ’No more. I am done.’ I worked several times with the daggit and always felt it should have played a bigger part of the show.”

continued....
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: LAURETTE SPANG Starlog Magazine 2001

Space Nightingale, part 2


BATTLE SCARS


For Spang, one of the series’ high points came in the pilot, when she almost becomes larvae food for the grotesque insectile Ovions. “That was great!” she exclaims. “I always wanted to do a horror film and that was as close as I got. They were scary, because I don’t ever recall seeing the Ovions with their masks off. Laying down with Ovions hovering over me and holding me down was creepy—then Starbuck and Apollo crash in. It was a little girl’s dream: To have these two handsome guys come in with laser guns to rescue you from the Bee People!

“That scene was just so real, and the set was marvelous, too. They had trapped people scratching against their cage windows, people being eaten alive by the Ovions. The regular series pulled back from that, but I was waiting for it to rev up again. I think a second season would have done that.”

Battlestar Galactica
arose while Spang was not under contract. “I was just freelancing in different things,” says the actress. “For me, Galactica was just a pilot. I was only supposed to be in the pilot—ABC brought me in for a guest shot. By the time we finished, ABC offered me a part in the series. My agent didn’t want me to do it, because he felt there wasn’t enough money in it with all of these regulars (already signed). I was so excited by the pilot and had such fun making it, I said, “I want to do it!”

“The truth is, if we had gone one more season on Galactica, we could have covered a tremendous amount of material. I believe the show could have been big. First season is all about rating and getting everything going, but by the season’s end, when Don Bellisario wrote and directed ’The Hand of God,’ our last episode, I felt pretty good. Don is tremendously talented, and he was more into the characters. The Cylons, as wonderful as they were, didn’t cut it. You can’t read emotions from a Cylon robot.

“Viewers wanted to know about the people on the Galactica, they wanted to get closer to the characters and feel something for them. “The Hand of God finally dug into that and got some emotion out of the crew. It was the last one before we were cancelled, the show where the guys go off to fight. Sheba (Lockhart) kisses Apollo goodbye and Cassiopeia and Starbuck argue, fight and say they love each other for the first time. We fit in action, fighting and Cylons, but the emotional core of the show was there.”

The series’ cancellation “ was very tragic to me,” the actress states. “I found out while watching Rona Barrett’s Hollywood on television! She announced it as not being renewed when I was back in Michigan, sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room one morning. I went (anguished), “Oh no!” At the time, I had just completed interviews with US and Redbook. Redbook spent several days with me, sat in my dressing room and home, and talked about personal things. The magazines pulled both articles, because I was no longer the star of a current TV show.”

It was a couple pity for this daughter of an Ann Arbor, Michigan chemist and a social worker, who admits she always wanted to pursue a theatrical career. “I was on of the few people from my high school who decided to become an actress and actually did it. In high school, I was laughed at often for that goal,” she remembers. “I graduated, went to college for a year and then went to New York. While there, I did some work with the Williamstown Summer Theater, then got a scholarship from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I got a seven-year contract from Universal Studios in California and they flew me out in 1972, where I spent three years under contract and did everything.

“My first role was a guest shoe on Alias Smith & Jones, and then I went straight into Marcus Welby and a ton of TV movies. I did several Happy Days, playing Richie’s girl friend a few times and Fonzie’s girl friend once. Happy Days was like family—I still keep in touch with those guys. Some trivia book listed me and the Landers sisters (Audrey and Judy) as the busiest young ’70s TV actresses. It made me laugh, because I did work a lot.”

Among other “proud” moments, Spang avoids being eaten by tigers in the TV movie Maneater. “Oh god, you had to have seen that one!” exclaims the embarrassed star. “It was a great case being chased by Bengal tigers. Vince Edwards—Ben Casey himself—wrote and directed Maneater. Richard Basehart played the maniac who releases the tigers to eat tourists (Ben Gazzara, Sheree North and others). Everybody has a couple of shows that they want lost and Maneater is one of mine. There was one line in the script, ’Tigers don’t like deep holes,’ so we all hide in a hole! We looked at each other and asked, ‘Who’s going to say this line?’ Nobody wanted to!”


continued...
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: LAURETTE SPANG Starlog Magazine 2001

Space Nightingale, Part 3



BATTLE SPARS

Spang also had a high-speed run in with The Six Million Dollar Man. “I spend most of that episode standing on a beach,” she recalls. I played a Navy WAV. Lee Majors was a nice guy. I didn’t get to see him do anything bionic, though—our plane just crash-lands on the beach.”

In a more dramatic role, Spang was a young boozehound in Sara T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. “That was directed by Dick Donner. Larry Hagman was my Dad. Linda Blair and I had a great time together. She was a fun friend to have on that set. I loved that title—everything was a Portrait movie, like Portrait of a Hooker.

Like many beautiful actresses of the time, Spang got dolled up for Charlie’s Angels—but not too dolled up. “Doing Charlie’s Angels was an interesting experience,” she admits with a smile. “Going into wardrobe, if you weren’t one of those three main girls (Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith), they would say, ‘Oh, you can’t wear that because Farrah’s wearing that—and Kate’s wearing that and Jackie’s wearing those shoes!’ You would ask, ‘Where’s my wardrobe?’ It would be this bargain-basement K-Mart stuff! As a guest, you would look pretty frowzy!”

Despite her disappointment with Galactica’s beaching, Spang’s life took a different turn soon afterward. “I continued working, but then I met my husband right at the end of it. He was a star on The Young and the Restless, John McCook. At the time, he did a lot of nighttime TV, and then 14 years ago went on to The Bold and the Beautiful and he’s still on it,” she says proudly.

We decided to get married after Galactica. I worked another year. I did Magnum P.I. for Don Bellisario, then The Dukes of Hazard, the last show I did before I had my son. I was pregnant with him while doing it. Then I quit, and three years later, I went to Hawaii and did Magnum P.I. again.

It was hard for me to get (my agent and producers) to believe that I wasn’t coming back to acting. I had just signed with a big agency that wants me to roll right into another series, but I wanted to have babies. I wasn’t of the mind at the time that Could do both. When I thought, “Maybe I can go back into it,’ I angered a few agents then who said, ’This isn’t New York—you can’t get back into it whenever you want!’ I said, ‘OK, bye!’ and quit.”

But with todays’ film and TV remake mania, Spang might find herself aboard the Galactica Bridge once again. Sci-Fi Channel President Bonnie Hamner was recently quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as “looking into” doing a new Galactica. “They have been talking about that for years. I will believe it when it happens,” Spang smiles. “In the beginning, I got very excited about that (revival talk), but I know how things go in this business; it will be a new cast.They’ll do it like the Lost in Space movie and bring in big stars. But it would be great fun to do a two-hour TV movie wrapping up Battlestar Galactica and showing what happened to all the characters. Did Cassiopeia and Starbuck get married? What happened to Apollo and Sheba? I wold love to see that.”

As for Hatch’s ambitious plans to re-launch Galactica, the actress has mixed emotions—and isn’t the least bit hesitant in discussing them. “I get in trouble every time I talk about it,” Spang laughs. “I have tremendous respect for Richard, for his talent, his writing and his pursuit of this project. But I believe it’s a fact that Glen (Larson) and Universal Studios own all the rights. Glen created the characters, so I believe there are no two ways around that. No matter what fans of the show (want to) see, the legality is that the characters belong to Glen. Beyond that, it’s a spirited thing Richard has taken on and I hope he’s successful, but if somebody else owns it, you just can’t get past that.

“There are many show like Galactica where people are in love with the show and want it to go on, but Battlestar Galactica will never happen again the way that it was,” Spang says quietly. “Still, it’s nice to know that it can be re-created in someway and explore what happens to the characters at the heart of that show.”

As for her future, “I am a blissfully happy Mom,” Spang says. “My life is so rich and full. My kids are incredible. My husband is a very successful actor. I was blessed with 10 good years of working constantly and I’ve been married for 20 years.

“Once in a while, I see a role and think, ‘I could do that,’ but I have my little one to think about, Molly, a 10-year-old. I was home all the time with my 18-year-old and 16-year-old, so I can’t cheat my daughter of the sam experience. I’m very happy. One think I wold like to do some day is another science fiction show; that seems right inline with the people who know me from Battlestar Galactica. The only thing I appear in now are my son’s home movies,” Laurette Spang smiles. “Since he was nine, I can’t cut a tomato for a salad without being filmed by him.”
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