The Boob Tube #41 : Lesser Known TV Babes (Part 2) The Knight Rider Edition

You do realize I could devote this entire blog to this subject and have enough material to take me to a ripe old age? Just the bit part actresses on Knight Rider alone could take me to 2014. Unfortunately, we have other topics to attend to, so that dream will have to be put on hold for a while.

TV (especially in the seventies and eighties) was a breeding ground for actresses to get their feet wet before moving on to nude scenes in grade Z movies and a lifetime of bitter disappointment.  IMDb is littered with actresses who popped up on Murder, She Wrote, Riptide, Simon and Simon, Matt Houston, Sledgehammer, etc. and then PPHHHTTT! That's the sound of a promising acting career imploding on itself.

Previous Post: Lesser Known TV Babes (Part 1)

Knight Rider (Season 3 Episode 5)

Taaffe O'Connell starred in all your usual suspects: Wonder Woman, Happy Days, CHiPs, and Three's Company.  However, she is best remembered for her infamous scene in Galaxy of Terror where she is raped by a gigantic alien worm..

detail from the Galaxy of Terror movie poster

That scene will forever go down as one of the most paralyzingly awkward, bowel crunching disturbing, irredeemably inappropriate scenes ever put to celluloid.  And here she is on the Halloween episode of Knight Rider like it never even happened.

From the same episode we have Dallas Cole.  This was her first role - as a sultry witch named (wait for it) Esmerelda.  Her career lasted about ten more years before staring as a nameless barmaid in a TV movie called "K-9".

Season 3, Episode 3

Janet's career started out promising enough - as the replacement for Pamela Sue Martin (who had "moved on" to appear in Playboy) as Nancy Drew.  Quite a launching point for an acting career.... to no avail.

Cheerleader, homecoming queen, actress, and then the new Nancy Drew.  The future was definitely bright for young Janet.  Unfortunately, the remainder of her career amounted to bit parts on Simon and Simon and a role on the Swamp Thing (the TV series).  PPPHHHTTT! There's that sound again.

If you want to know how lecherous television was in the eighties look no further than this scene between Janet and Hasselhoff. Half the scene is filmed via Janet's backside (at one point, bent over).  Nowadays, this sort of filming would be mocked as cheap and crass.  Back then, that was just good television.

Season 2, Episode 14

Wendy Kilbourne's claim to fame is a fairly big part in North and South, a very popular miniseries back in 1985.  Beyond that, it's your standard leapfrog from one TV show bit part to the next. (Riptide, Matt Houston, The A Team, Dynasty, etc.)

In this episode she plays a model - which is worth a watch just for the insanely stupid photo shoots.  Cringeworthy.

I should mention that Wendy's grandfather wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz.

Season 2, Episode 18

Ann Turkel was a popular model who tested the waters in acting.... with tepid results.  Other than marrying actor Richard Harris (many years her senior), there's not much to say.  She had a fairly big part in Humanoids from the Deep and hopped from The Fall Guy to Riptide to Fantasy Island to The Love Boat to The New Mike Hammer, etc. etc. yada, yada, yada.

So what's the big deal about Miss Turkel? First and foremost, She shared some scenes with a bearded Hasselhof  (he's playing Michael Knight's estranged bro, Garth). Secondly, Turkel was a star in the Goliath episodes of Knight Rider.  You all remember Goliath - arch nemesis of KITT, right?

Just as The Six Million Dollar Man had his arch enemy, Big Foot, so too did Knight Rider.  Goliath was the anti-KITT and Garthe was the "bad" version of Michael... and you could tell Hasselhoff really enjoyed playing him. Perhaps a bit too much even.

Season 3, Episode 21

Sharon Hughes represents exactly why I enjoy looking up these bit part ladies of TV.  You're always bound to find some interesting connection.

Sharon plays "Tiger" in this circus themed episode.  A small part really - your typical run-of-the-mill roller-skating flame thrower role.  There's a great quote from the episode:

"This circus has no real value, except to the people who love it, the people who struggle to keep it alive in a world of pay TV, satellite dishes and Michael Jackson concerts."

Turns out, Sharon sang back up vocals for The Time on the Ice Cream Castles album.... and had a "thing" with Prince.  In fact, "Little Red Corvette" is said to have been written with her in mind! 


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  1. In my "Brush with Celebrity," I actually met Richard Harris when Ann Turkel was hanging around; back at my college in 1973. Harris was on tour, reading poetry, not singing.

  2. How could *that* marry Richard Harris, one of the ugliest men in show biz, and certainly the worst hair in the history of men.

  3. Ann Turkel also starred in the title role of a Modesty Blaise pilot that was made back in 1982

  4. I had a HUGE crush on Wendy Kilbourne when I was a teenager. She lit up the small screen in North and South and went on to co-star alongside Gary Cole in the first couple of seasons of "Midnight Caller" (aka, the only good seasons of that show). She married her North and South co-star James Read (lucky SOB but as he's always been a good TV actor so I can't really moan) and they've been together ever since with Wendy deciding to concentrate on the family. A loss for lecherous 80s teenagers like me but a gain for her children.

  5. Love these posts. Just last night as we were watching Rockford Files my wife said "Who is that actress? She's someone famous." And I thought, no, she's just been on Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, WKRP in Cincinnati, Quincy M.E., Newhart, and a dozen other shows one time each. So I looked her up, and I was right. Mary Frann was her name.

  6. Really great posts. The thought that goes into the pics and researching the info is impressive. You have a great way of bringing our childhood back from the depths

  7. Wendy Kilbourne ended up with a pretty decent costarring role on "Midnight Caller" with Gary Cole in the late 80s. She left the show and Hollywood on her own accord after a few seasons to raise a family. Wikipedia says she's now an attorney (she quit her acting career to go to law school.)

    I loved Knight Rider, but don't really remember any of the female actresses who guest starred. Guess I was too enthralled by Hasselhoff at the time.

  8. You really should do these posts more than one every two years or so. ;) Three's Company would be a great show to give this treatment to. I never really watched it growing up, but seeing reruns now, oh my word, there were some amazing women on that show! :o

  9. AnonymousJuly 13, 2013

    I've always hated Ann Turkel for the ugly 70's clothes she wore in a Richard Harris movie: jeans and knee high brown leather boots.

  10. Interesting! This makes me curious about all the actors that appeared in bit parts on these shows as well.

  11. OBloodyhellOctober 18, 2014

    How the hell did you miss Pamela Susan Shoop? Another very hot starlet who bopped for a few years between various Glen Larson productions...

  12. EVERY up n' coming starlet and wannabe pop start had a thing with Prince (artiest formally know as?) in the 1980s. I believe it was in his contract.