(written from a Production point of view)
|Birth name:||Charlotte Gercke|
|Date of birth:||13 February 1932|
|Place of birth:||New York, New York|
|Date of death:||10 May 1990 (age 58)|
|Place of death:||Woodland Hills, California|
Susan Oliver was the stage name of Charlotte Gercke (13 February 1932 – 10 May 1990; age 58), a New York native, who guest-starred in the original series' first pilot episode, "The Cage" as Vina. She was the daughter of Hollywood astrologer Ruth Hale Oliver. When her parents divorced around 1935, Oliver was raised by her mother, although she lived with her father in Japan for a short time.
She filmed her scenes for "The Cage" on Friday 4 December 1964, Friday 11 December 1964, Wednesday 16 December 1964, Thursday 17 December 1964 and Friday 18 December 1964 at Desilu Culver Stage 15, Tuesday 8 December 1964, Wednesday 9 December 1964 and Thursday 10 December 1964 at Stage 16, and Monday 14 December 1964 and Tuesday 15 December 1964 at the "Arab Village" section of the 40 Acres backlot.
Oliver studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City, and in 1957 moved to Los Angeles to star in her first screen role, a film entitled The Green Eyed Blonde. A later movie role was Ginger in the Morning (1974), with Monte Markham as her ex-husband.
Most of Oliver's career consisted of numerous TV guest star roles (well over 100 between 1956 and 1988). These included the "Prisoner of Love" episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the Michael Shayne episode "The Heiress", in which Celia Lovsky also guest starred, and "The White Birch" episode of The Name of the Game, in which Louise Sorel also guest starred. In 1960, Oliver, Byron Morrow and Vic Perrin played Martians in the "People Are Alike All Over" episode of The Twilight Zone, which also featured Paul Comi. (It's worth noting that this episode was similar to 1964's "The Cage" insofar as the aliens put the space-faring Earthman in a zoo and read his mind to create a familiar environment for him.) That same year, Oliver appeared in an episode of Wagon Train (with Leonard Nimoy). She also guest starred in a 1974 episode of Petrocelli, "Edge of Evil" alongside Susan Howard, William Shatner and Glenn Corbett, and in "The Night Dr. Loveless Died", a 1967 episode of The Wild Wild West with Michael Dunn, Anthony Caruso and Robert Ellenstein. She also appeared in "Double Jeopardy", the 1970 pilot of the series Dan August, directed by Ralph Senensky and also featuring Ned Romero, Jerry Ayres and Fritz Weaver. Though they shared no scenes, Oliver appeared with Meg Wyllie, her co-star from "The Cage", in a 1973 episode of Cannon, which was directed by Lawrence Dobkin. Keith Andes also appeared in that episode.
Oliver was also a passionate pilot, winner of the 1970 Powder Puff Derby air race and the fourth woman to fly a single-engined aircraft solo across the Atlantic. She attempted to become the first woman to fly a single-engine plane from the United States to Moscow; she made it as far as Denmark but was denied entry into Soviet airspace. Her aviation exploits are the focus of her 1983 autobiography, Odyssey: A Daring Transatlantic Journey (ISBN 0025929208).