Whatever Happened to Erin Gray?

Erin Gray is among the many actors that you might not remember quite as well since her career didn’t careen into the spotlight with the force of a catapult-thrown siege stone as you might see in a medieval movie, but she’s still been seen as a venerated actress for what she did contribute back in the day. She’s also among those that did manage to graduate high school but chose to focus on her acting career rather than finish her time in college. UCLA wasn’t quite as important as the fame she moved towards back in the day it would seem, though in all honesty there are a lot of people that would have and did make the same leap in their own lives. There is an allure to the spotlight that some people find difficult to resist though in recent years it would seem that a lot more people have been intent on finishing their education or at least continuing it as they build up their career. Gray is likely one of those old-timers that was given a choice between school and acting and took the obvious course of fame and fortune now over and education plus fame and fortune at later date.

It’s easier to give her a little more credit than that since when she was 15 she decided to pursue a career in modeling and yet still managed to continue her education. After a few years of entering the modeling industry however she did manage to become one of the top models in New York City, which is not an easy distinction to achieve. She was also a spokeswoman for several top-level accounts such as Bloomingdale’s and L’Oreal, and by the mid-70s she was one of the top models in the nation. That alone is worth mentioning since modeling is a rather tough game to get into and even tougher to stay on top of considering the many upon many individuals that attempt to try their hand at getting somewhere only to end up somewhere in the middle or lower end of the spectrum. She was making upwards of $100,000 a year at that time, which in today’s standards would be kind of laughable, but when you think about what ‘top-dollar’ really meant back then is actually very impressive.

After modeling for a while she became interested in acting and without much thought she moved out to Los Angeles in order to pursue a Hollywood career. After a few good outings she was signed to a seven-year contract with Universal Studios. This was almost a direct road to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. As you can imagine, since the show was a big hit during its time, she was a welcome part of the cast since she was trim and fit into her tight, one-piece uniform that drove men wild. Seeing as the show was watched primarily by young men she was one of the many additions that kept the film relevant and managed to push the TV show when it came out. In fact if you really look at things from a current perspective she was one of the earliest examples of a strong female lead in a science fiction setting. This had a profound message that women could in fact be instrumental in movies and TV.

She showed up in Magnum, P.I. after Buck Rogers, but sadly this went nowhere and up until her role in Silver Spoons she didn’t really get to show the same presences that she had in Buck Rogers. When Silver Spoons ended she started taking whatever roles she could find, which meant some good, some bad, and a lot of mediocre that didn’t really revive her career even though they didn’t kill it either. If anything she hit the plateau and just kept moving forward without any real upward or downward dips that could define her in a big way any longer. Even her brief role in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, didn’t tank her reputation entirely. C’mon, even for fans of the franchise and diehards that won’t say anything bad about a movie, the ninth movie was absolutely terrible.

Since those days she’s moved into the current era by reviving the parents of the main character’s of the Buck Rogers web series, and she’s been in various commercials that have made use of her reputation as well as her ability to still shine on the screen. She hasn’t done anything extravagant at this point in her career but it doesn’t seem that she needs to since there are enough people that still remember her and are appreciative of what she’s done. Right now she’s actually taken up the role of a casting agent for an agency that specializes in scifi and fantasy and books personal appearances for stars from said genres. All in all she hasn’t really left the life, she’s just taken a different role.


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