She’s played in everything from heavy drama and fantastical farce to commercials advertising dog treats. And now, actress Erin Gray is poised to celebrate a very special milestone.
Happy Birthday, Erin Gray!
And that’s because she was born on January 7, 1950, in Honolulu, Hawaii, which means that this much-beloved performer is turning 71 years old today! Gray spent the majority of her childhood and teen years in California, and after graduating high school, she had to debate the merits of continuing her higher education, and earn the degree in mathematics she initially yearned for, or pursue a career in modeling.
Modeling won out, and soon Gray was ensconced in New York City and signed to a prestigious agency. She quickly amassed a sterling reputation in the fashion industry, and soon found herself walking various catwalks, being photographed for layouts in the Sears Catalogue and the recently-launched Sports Illustrated, as well as starring in various TV commercials.
Audiences came to know her as L’Oréal’s first spokesperson, the Maxi Girl for Max Factor, a Breck shampoo user, and the provocative brunette who claimed that, “My men wear English Leather [Cologne]…or they wear nothing at all!”
When in-between modeling assignments, Gray studied acting under the auspice of Warren Robertson. The first opportunity to put her training to use came in 1975. Gray was cast in a small role in the science-fiction thriller Logan’s Run, but her scene ended up on the cutting room floor.
Instead, it was a bit part on Maude (1976) that served as Gray’s introduction to the viewing public. That was followed by a well-received effort in an episode of Police Story (1978), and within a year, Gray was signed to a seven-year deal with Universal Studios.
As part of that bargain, Gray was tasked with appearing in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – a science-fiction series that famously saw its feature-length pilot released in theatrical form.
Gray starred as Colonel Wilma Deering, a character that proved to be a source of inspiration for many female fans and a source of provocation for many of the young male viewers who apparently took great delight over the form-fitting jumpsuit that Gray donned.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century aired for two seasons – the first a reasonable success ratings-wise; the second derided by fans for the numerous changes introduced, including the “softening and feminization” of Gray’s character.
Afterward, Gray guest-starred on an episode of Magnum P.I. as security expert J. “Digger” Doyle. The initial plan was for Doyle to become a recurring character and possibly even the source for a future series spinoff, but nothing ever came of the one-off appearance.
Gray moved on and wound up working in episodes of The Fall Guy (1982), and Simon & Simon (1982), in made-for-TV movies like Born Beautiful (1982), and features like Six Pack (1982) with the late Kenny Rogers and a very young Diane Lane.
Gray’s next big break came courtesy of the sitcom Silver Spoons which aired from September 25, 1982 to May 30, 1987. On that program that starred a very young Rick Schroder, fresh off his Golden Globe-winning success in The Champ, Gray played Kate Summers, toy manufacturer Edward Stratton III’s highly efficient personal secretary and future wife.
Among Gray’s many other credits are recurring roles in Baywatch (1997-1998), Port Charles (1999-2000) as Nicole Devlin, and Profiler (2000).
In addition to acting, Gray is a practitioner and tutor of Tai Chi and Qu Gong, the co-author of a book on acting technique, and she’s the founder/CEO of the agency, Heroes for Hire, which specializes in booking sci-fi and fantasy stars for personal appearances. Entertainment Hub would like to wish Erin Gray a very happy birthday.