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Susan Oliver

Susan Oliver (February 13, 1932 – May 10, 1990) was an American actress, television director and record-setting pilot.

Born Charlotte Gercke in New York City, she was the daughter of a newspaperman George Gercke and Ruth Hale Oliver. Following her parents' divorce, Charlotte moved with her mother to the West Coast where her mother eventually became a well-known Hollywood astrologist.

After studying drama and working in summer stock, she adopted the stage name Susan Oliver and first appeared in a guest role on television in 1956 then made her motion picture and Broadway debuts the following year. For her performance in the Broadway play, Patate, Oliver won a Theatre World Award. Noted for her striking good looks, the blonde actress went on to play in more than one hundred different television shows and made-for-TV movies. She appeared in the notable 1960 motion picture BUtterfield 8 and in 1964 had the starring role opposite George Hamilton in Your Cheatin' Heart in which she played Audrey Williams, wife of country music legend Hank Williams.

Oliver appeared in Star Trek as Vina, the lone survivor of a spaceship crash landing on Talos IV and Captain Christopher Pike's love interest in the first pilot The Cage (1964, screened in re-edited form 1966). It is Oliver who appears in the end credits of early episodes as a green skinned slave.

She then appeared for the season on Peyton Place. By the 1970s, Oliver was working mainly in television and she directed several shows including a 1982 episode of M*A*S*H. During 1975–76 she was a regular cast member of the soap opera Days of Our Lives and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in the 1976 made-for-TV drama, Amelia Earhart. Appearing in a film about the famous aviatrix was natural for Oliver who, outside of show business, was a flying enthusiast who piloted her own aircraft.

After surviving a 1966 plane crash that almost took her life, in 1970 she co-piloted her Piper Comanche (different aircraft from the photo to the right) to victory in the 2,760 mile transcontinental race known as the Powder Puff Derby. In 1967 Oliver became the first woman to fly a single-engined aircraft solo from New York City across the Atlantic Ocean as part of her attempt to fly to Moscow. Her odyssey ended in Denmark after the government of the Soviet Union denied her permission to enter their air space.

In 1983, Oliver wrote about her aviation exploits in an autobiography titled Odyssey: A Daring Transatlantic Journey.

She became a devout Buddhist. A cigarette smoker, Oliver died from lung cancer in 1990 at the age of 58 in Woodland Hills, California.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Susan Oliver Facts

Birth NameCharlotte Gercke
BirthdayFebruary 13, 1937
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathMay 10, 1990 (age 53)

Selected Filmography

10:00 P.M.
Rat Race
There's Something About Mary
The Outcast
Yours, Mine & Ours
The Menagerie
Bowling For Columbine
The Three Lives of Thomasina
Tale of a Vampire
The Great Train Robbery
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