At first mention, today’s pop-culture connoisseurs might not recognize the name Susan Oliver, the Peyton Place actress who was a guest-star staple on popular primetime television in the 1960s and ’70s. But if you’re an old-school Star Trek fan, you most definitely remember her work from the show’s first — ultimately rejected — pilot episode, in which she played the original Green Girl, the seductive emerald-skinned Orion who was the rhythmic, writhing incarnation of Capt. Pike’s deepest fantasy. (See video below.) She made quite an impression on Pike and millions of adolescent boys who watched the series, which later incorporated her performance into the show’s end credits after it was recycled into a subsequent episode. In fact, when J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in 2009, Chris Pine’s Kirk had a one-nighter with a similarly sexy Orion, a nostalgic nod to Oliver’s original character.
But there was much more to Oliver than her brief fling with Star Trek, and an independent filmmaker is raising money on Kickstarter to complete a documentary about her life — titled, of course, The Green Girl. George Pappy became intrigued by Oliver after re-watching her Star Trek cameo, but he quickly became more impressed by her achievements as a pioneer female director and record-setting pilot. In addition to working opposite Elizabeth Taylor (in Butterfield 8), Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood, Oliver directed an episode of M*A*S*H and Trapper John, MD at a time in the early 1980s when women behind the camera were practically unheard of. In 1967, she flew a single-engine plane across the Atlantic alone. “She’s thought of as just another pretty face, but she really was so much more than that,” said Pappy, in his Kickstarter appeal. “If nothing else, I think the universe kind of owes her a little recognition and remembrance.”
Pappy has already conducted several interviews with several of Oliver’s contemporaries, but he’s still well short of his $80,000 goal with 17 days to go. Won’t you give the guy some Green?