This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Vaughn Armstrong. And the answer is a resounding YES, he HAS been in many a Star Trek show. In fact, he holds the record for having played the most different characters on the various Trek shows. He’s appeared 27 times as 11 different characters of 8 different races — 3 Klingons, 2 Cardassians, a Borg, a Romulan, a Vidiian, a Hirogen, a Kreetassan … and even a plain old human. He played 5 different characters on the Voyager series alone, and shares with Jeffrey Combs the distinction of being the only actor to portray 3 characters in the same season of the same show (Enterprise). The only Trek show he never appeared on was The Original Series … but I’m sure it’s only because he was a teenager at the time.
A Vietnam War veteran, Armstrong did a lot of stage acting in his early days, and didn’t actually enter the Hollywood scene until he was 27 years old. The following year (1978), he landed a one-shot role on a Wonder Woman episode, and the next decade would find him on such popular shows as Lou Grant, Matt Houston, Simon & Simon, Remington Steele, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, and the classic 1984 time travel movie The Philadelphia Experiment.
This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Stacy Haiduk (pronounced “High-Duke”). And the answer is no — she has never been in a Star Trek show. But she’s had feature roles in a few other sci-fi franchises. I wanted to work another woman into the list, and she was someone who quickly came to mind. She pinged my radar all the way back in 1988, when at the age of 20, she was cast in the role of Clark Kent’s childhood friend Lana Lang (the female lead) in the Superboy series, which ran for four seasons.
Prior to this, Michigan-born Haiduk had studied dancing, singing, and theater, appeared in some music videos, and did some commercial work. After Superboy was cancelled prematurely in 1992, due to ongoing legal battles between Ilya Salkind and Warner Brothers, Haiduk wasted little time finding work. Her piercing blue eyes and red hair helped her stand out from the crowd, and in 1993, she landed a major role as Lieutenant Commander Kathryn Hitchcock on SeaQuest DSV. Which, let’s face it, was really just Star Trek underwater, with Roy Scheider as captain and Peter DeLuise as Data. Right? So maybe in a way, Haiduk really was on a Star Trek show?
This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Brian Thompson. If you ever watched the original Terminator movie, then you’ve seen him. For a few minutes anyway. In one of the opening scenes, he and Bill Paxton play a couple of street punks who go up against a naked cyborg Arnold … and are promptly killed for their clothes. As first roles go, an actor could do far worse — although from the body of work that’s followed since that movie in 1984, one wonders how exactly Brian Thompson has avoided playing the role of a terminator himself over the years. After all, the square-jawed baritone actor has played just about every other kind of imposing bogey man you can think of — two different vampires, two different Klingons, a shape-changing Gotham City supervillain, an alien bounty hunter, an indestructible demon, and even a vengeful Greek Titan.
A child of two teachers, Thompson broke into Hollywood as a Terminator casualty, but has gone on from there to build a career as either a tough guy or an outright bad guy, mostly in sci-fi/fantasy projects. By the time the 80s were over, he had racked up more than 20 appearances in such shows as Moonlighting, Knight Rider, and Falcon Crest, as well as the classic movies Three Amigos, Miracle Mile, and Alien Nation. In 1989, he landed his first Star Trek role, playing a Klingon officer in The Next Generation, and his relationship with the franchise would persist over the years — he appeared in the Generations movie (1994), in Deep Space Nine (1993 & 1996), and even had a recurring role on Enterprise in 2005.
For this week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject, the answer is actually no — Don S. Davis was never on one of the Star Trek shows. But he has been a regular on various sci-fi projects for over twenty years, including the other “Star” show, and odds are, you’ve seen him in something. Sadly, he passed away on June 29th, and for this reason, I thought it was only right to bump him to the top of the profile list.
Previously both a soldier and a theater professor, Davis was already 40 years old by the time he arrived on the television and movie scene. His first acting job was a one-shot on Joanie Loves Chachi in 1982, which he followed up over the next decade with a variety other small roles in shows like MacGyver, Wiseguy, L.A. Law, and 21 Jump Street, as well as the movies The Journey of Natty Gann, Stakeout, Watchers, Beyond the Stars, Look Who’s Talking, and Look Who’s Talking Too. But where I first became aware of him was in 1991, when he played the stoic Major Garland Briggs in 16 episodes of David Lynch’s creepy entree into television, Twin Peaks.
This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Patricia Tallman. She popped into my head last week, because she was the co-lead alongside Tony Todd in George Romero’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, in which she played a considerably updated version of the Barbara character. No longer meek and vulnerable and seemingly catatonic, Tallman’s zombie-killing version of Barbara was an appealing change of pace — a tough 90s echo of Ripley from Aliens and a pre-cursor to Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But it wasn’t until I did an IMDB search that I realized I knew this redheaded actress from some other projects as well.
Patricia Tallman started her acting career on the stage, and didn’t arrive on the Hollywood scene until she landed a role in George Romero’s 1981 movie Knightriders (don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either). The film didn’t do well either critically or at the box office, but it kicked off an ongoing working relationship with Romero and with makeup legend Tom Savini. Over the next decade, she’d work with one or both of the two in various movies and TV shows, including Tales from the Darkside, Creepshow 2, Monkey Shines, and of course, Night of the Living Dead — sometimes as an actress, and sometimes as a stunt woman.
This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Tony Todd. Warning: If you haven’t seen Tony Todd in at least 5 roles in the past two decades, you’ve probably been in a coma. Consult your doctor. Okay, here’s a hint … he’s friggin CANDYMAN! Which is just one of well over 100 roles he’s played, across the spectrum, from sci-fi to drama to horror to comedy to … whatever Cop Rock is considered.
Tony Todd started his acting career on the stage, then in the 80s, made a name for himself in high-profile movies like Platoon, Bird, Colors, and Lean on Me, as well as one-shot parts on assorted TV shows — Simon & Simon, 21 Jump Street, Kate & Allie, Night Court, MacGyver, and yes … Cop Rock. Then in 1990, he began an ongoing relationship with the sci-fi/horror universe when he played the lead role of Ben in George Romero’s remake of Night of the Living Dead … which is probably the first time he landed on my radar. A hardcore fan of the original movie, I was very happy with the remake, and from that point on, it seemed as if I saw Todd everywhere. After all, at 6’5″ and with that deep distinctive voice, he’s kind of hard to miss.
Our first W.Y.O.S.T. subject is one of my favorites, Jeffrey Combs. Who, appropriately enough, is somebody who actually was on a Star Trek show. Several of them actually. In fact, he holds a number of records in that department. He’s had recurring roles in three of the Star Trek shows — Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise — and is one of only a small handful of actors to play seven different characters in the franchise, appearing in ten seasons and 43 episodes overall. What’s more, he’s one of only two actors who have played three different characters in a single season, as well as two unrelated characters in a single episode. All because he originally auditioned for the role of Riker on The Next Generation.
But Combs’ sci-fi resume is definitely not limited to Star Trek shows. A professionally trained actor, up until he moved to Los Angeles in 1980, he pounded the stages doing Shakespeare. To date, he’s clocked in well over 100 movie and TV appearances. My first exposure to him was in 1985, when he played the insane and hilarious Dr. Herbert West in the classic B-movie Re-Animator, which my brother and I videotaped off of cable and must have watched a thousand times. The movie was based on a story by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, and would actually form the first relationship that Combs had with a franchise. He would go on to feature in a handful other Lovecraft-based flicks — From Beyond, Bride of Re-Animator, Lurking Fear, Castle Freak, Beyond Re-Animator, and (coming soon) House of Re-Animator — and even got to play Lovecraft himself once, in 1994’s Necronomicon. Continue reading