Familiar Faces #8: In Search of Angelique Pettyjohn

I first became aware of the gorgeous Angelique Pettyjohn, like most fans, through her appearance as Shahna in the STAR TREK episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion”. The statuesque, green-haired beauty fascinated me as much as she did Captain Kirk, churning my then-adolescent hormones into a frenzy! Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the lovely Miss Pettyjohn, and have made it my mission to discover All Things Angelique!

Angelique Pettyjohn was not her given name, of course, nor was it her only screen name. She was born Dorothy Lee Perrins in the City of Angels on March 11, 1943, and studied dance as a young girl. According to IMDB, her first film appearance was the “Blonde in U.S. sex insert” in Argentine director Armando Bo’s PUT OUT OR SHUT UP in 1959, which would’ve made her 16 years old at the time. She’s also credited as a juror in 1961’s THE PHANTOM PLANET, a low-budget sci-fi film notable for featuring former silent star Francis X. Bushman as an alien and the debuting Richard Kiel as a monster. Having never seen these two films, I can’t confirm if that’s indeed Angelique in them.

The cleverly disguised Agent Charlie Watkins on “Get Smart” (with star Don Adams)

Angelique’s first break came in the spy-spoof sitcom GET SMART, starring comedian Don Adams as the inept Maxwell Smart, CONTROL Agent 86. Angelique makes two appearances as Agent Charlie Watkins, a male master of disguise who’s really good  – so good that he looks like the beautiful Angelique! The actress has the part of Charlie in two episodes, “Smart Fit the Battle of Jericho” (disguised as a cigarette girl) and “Pussycats Galore” (as a waitress at the Pussycat Club). Though the parts are brief, they got Angelique noticed, yet stardom still eluded her.

Playing in Elvis’s band in 1967’s “Clambake”

Bit parts and uncredited roles followed: big films like HOTEL, A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN, ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT?, and THE ODD COUPLE, smaller ones such as THE COOL ONES and FOR SINGLES ONLY. She’s seen to good advantage in the Elvis Presley musical CLAMBAKE, but around this time, Angelique also began taking jobs in softcore porn: Michael Findley’s THE TOUCH OF HER FLESH, Joseph Sarno’s THE LOVE REBELLION, William Rose’s PROFESSOR LUST.

Angelique as Shahna and William Shatner as Capt. Kirk in the STAR TREK episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

Angelique guested in episodes of THE GREEN HORNET, MR. TERRIFIC, THE FELONY SQUAD, BATMAN , and THE GIRL FROM UNCLE before landing the part that would gain her sci-fi immortality: Shahna the Thrall in the STAR TREK Season 2 episode, “The Gamesters of Triskelion”. Captain Kirk (William Shatner ), Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig) are hijacked by alien gamblers who spend their time betting on to-the-death gladiator matches. Forced to wear “collars of obedience”, each is assigned a trainer to prepare them for combat, and Kirk is assigned to the green-haired Shahna, who naturally falls for him (because all women do!). This was Angelique’s biggest part to date, and would be her claim to fame in the future.

In AIP’s bike-sploitation epic “Hell’s Belles”

She lost the part of Nova in 1968’s PLANET OF THE APES to Linda Hamilton, but next up for Angelique were co-starring roles in two drive-in classics. 1969’s MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND found her in a Filipino-lensed horror thriller opposite ‘Beach Party’ alum John Ashley being terrorized by a green-skinned monster, and she plays a biker chick in HELLS’ BELLES alongside bike-sploitation vets Jeremy Slate (THE MINI-SKIRT MOB, HELL’S ANGELS ’69) and Adam Roarke (THE SAVAGE SEVEN, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS). That same year saw the release of CONFESSIONS OF TOM HARRIS, codirected by John Derek and David Nelson (Ozzie & Harriet’s son) in a story about an alcoholic ex-serviceman who breaks arms for the mob before coming to Jesus and helping drunks. Don Murray, Linda Evans (Derek’s then-wife), and former Warner Bros star David Brian are also in the film, which has gained a bit of a cult status.

Angelique in her days performing at Las Vegas’s Silver Slipper

But nothing came of these, and she was back to bits (HEAVEN WITH A GUN, THE LOVE GOD?) and dreck like THE CURIOUS FEMALE, UP YOUR TEDDY BEAR, and WIT’S END (also known as G.I. EXECUTIONER, and directed by Joel M. Reed of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS infamy). In the early 70’s, Angelique moved to Las Vegas and became a stripper and showgirl, dancing at The Silver Slipper and The Aladdin. She’d developed a problem with drugs and alcohol, and by the early 80’s was performing in Triple X fare like TITILLATION, BODY TALK, and STALAG 69 under the pseudonyms Heaven St. John and Angel St. John.

The “family friendly” version of her popular poster

What saved Angelique from a life of porn, drugs, and obscurity was the STAR TREK revival that burst forth after the release of 1979’s STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and its sequels. Trekkies and their conventions were everywhere, and anyone remotely connected to the original series was automatically embraced by fandom. Angelique began making appearances at these conventions, where she was welcomed with open arms – a star at last, at least in Trekkies’ eyes! She sold photos of herself dressed as Shahna in two versions, one of which was in the nude, and fanboys ate them up like Tribbles gobbling quadrotriticle grain!

As the whip-crackin’ Whiplash in 1984’s “The Lost Empire”

Angelique returned to films mostly made by former fans who knew of her work on STAR TREK and the exploitation field. She’s in Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, Jim Wynorski’s THE LOST EMPIRE (as the leather-clad Whiplash!), Fred Olen Ray’s BIOHAZARD, Mike Jittlov’s THE WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME, and her last film, SORORITY GIRLS AND THE CREATURE FROM HELL (under the name Ashley St. John). Returning to the Vegas stage as a burlesque queen in 1989, Angelique was a popular attraction until her diagnosis with cervical cancer, which took her in 1992. There’s a rumor circulating around the Internet that Angelique bore a child by Elvis while working on BLUE HAWAII (one Philip Stanic, now known as Elvis Presley, Jr. and working as an Elvis impersonator), and was paid off to give him up for adoption. But since Angelique isn’t even in BLUE HAWAII (at least according to IMDB), it’s probably a bunch of baloney. Best we forget stuff like this and fondly remember Angelique Pettyjohn for what she was, a Hollywood hopeful whose one brief, shining moment as STAR TREK’s Shahna made her a star in the hearts of Trekkies everywhere:

 

 

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”: Fifty Years of STAR TREK

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Gene Roddenberry’s space odyssey first sailed onto the small screen on September 8, 1966. I can remember being allowed to stay up late (I was only 8 at the time!) to watch it with my dad, who was a big science-fiction buff. As a career Navy man, I think he related to the idea of a ship’s travels (he was also a fan of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA). Being a young’un at the time, I was more into the weird creatures the Starship Enterprise crew encountered on their “five-year mission”.

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Unless you’ve been living in another galaxy the past half century, you know all the characters. There’s William Shatner as the headstrong Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, emoting as only Shatner can. Leonard Nimoy became something of a teen idol as the logical Vulcan Mr. Spock (something about those pointed ears, maybe?). DeForrest Kelly played the ornery Dr. “Bones” McCoy, forever at odds with Spock’s emotionless thinking. His tagline “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a…(fill in your own word)” became a pop culture punchline, though he only repeated it in eleven episodes. James Doohan (Engineer Scotty), Nichelle Nichols (Communications Lt. Uhura, who shared a then-controversial interracial kiss with Kirk in a 1968 episode), George Takei (Helmsman Sulu), and Walter Koenig (Ensign Chekov, who joined in Season Two) round out the Enterprise’s crew.

What set STAR TREK apart from other sci-fi shows was the writing. Television viewers were used to juvenile space operas like CAPTAIN VIDEO AND HIS VIDEO RANGERS and TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET, but Roddenberry was determined to mix social commentary in with the futuristic proceedings, and hired some of the best science fiction/fantasy writers around. Top names like Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, George Clayton Johnson, Jerry Sohl, and Theodore Sturgeon crafted intelligent, thought-provoking scripts light years apart from the old comic strip stylings of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

Everyone has their own personal favorite episodes, and I’m no different, so here are my Top Ten STAR TREK episodes:

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  1. “City on the Edge of Forever” (Season 1, Episode 28; D: Joseph Pevney W: Harlan Ellison)- McCoy travels through a time portal and changes the course of history, so Kirk and Spock must correct it by following him to Depression Era New York. Joan Collins guest stars as Edith Keeler, who must die to prevent the Nazis from winning World War II. I think this is the best of the entire series, and many Trekkies agree with me. Powerful in every department.

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2.”The Trouble With Tribbles” (Season 2, Episode 15; D: Joseph Pevney W: David Gerrold)- Without a doubt the funniest episode, and a very close second for me.An important grain shipment on Deep Space Station K7 is threatened by Tribbles, furry little creatures that multiply prolifically when fed. One of the series’ strongest supporting casts, with the late William Schallert,   William Campbell, Stanley Adams, Whit Bissell, and Michael Pataki.

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3.”Space Seed” (Season 1, Episode 23; D: Marc Daniels W: Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilbur)- The episode that introduced Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonein Singh, a genetically altered megalomaniac from Earth’s past who shanghais the Enterprise and its crew. Montalban returned to do battle with his nemesis Capt. Kirk in the best of the STAR TREK films, 1982’s STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

4.”Assigment: Earth” (Season 2, Episode 26; D: Marc Daniels W: Art Wallace)- The Enterprise travels back in time to 1968, where they encounter Gary Seven (Robert Lansing), an alien sent to avert the nuclear destruction of Earth. This was the pilot for a new sci-fi series to star Lansing and Teri Garr, but it wasn’t given the green light. Too bad, because this is one of STAR TREK’S top entries, and the idea held much promise.

5.”A Piece of the Action” (Season 2, Episode 17; D: James Komack W: David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon)- Another humorous episode with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beaming down to a planet molded after Roaring Twenties gangster days. Anthony Caruso and Vic Tayback play the bosses of rival gangs out to control Sigma Iotia II. Kirk and Spock dressing and acting like old Warner Brothers hoods is a riot!

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6.”The Naked Time” (Season 1, Episode 4; D:Marc Daniels W: John DF Black)- A space virus infects the Enterprise crew, causing them to lose all inhibitions. George Takei has called this his favorite episode, and who can blame him- he gets to jump around like a swashbuckling Errol Flynn!

7.”Patterns of Force” (Season 2, Episode 21; D: Vincent McEveety W: John Meredyth Lucas)- Kirk and Spock visit planet Ekos to search for missing Federation observer John Gill, and discover he’s become the leader of a culture patterned after Nazi Germany. Another fine “message” episode featuring David Brian (FLAMINGO ROAD) in the role of Gill.

8.”The Devil in the Dark” (Season 1, Episode 25; D: Joseph Pevney W: Gene L. Coon)- Mining planet Janos VI is being threatened by a mysterious space creature called the Horta. A plea for tolerance of “the other” disguised as science-fiction, William Shatner has said this is his favorite episode.

9.”Amok Time” (Season 2, Episode 1; D: Joseph Pevney W: Theodore Sturgeon)- Spock is suffering from the Vulcan condition known as “pon farr”, and must return to his planet to mate or he will die. Kirk joins him, and the two friends must battle to the death when T’Pring requests a challenge. (Celia Lovsky , who plays Vulcan leader T’Pau, was once married to actor Peter Lorre.)

10.”Mirror, Mirror” (Season 2, Episode 4; D: Marc Daniels W: Jerome Bixby)- The Enterprise meets and battles its evil doppelgänger from a parallel universe. Though this plot has been used over and over in the sci-fi genre, this episode does a great job, with dual roles for everybody.

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STAR TREK has spawned four TV sequels, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, STAR TREK: VOYAGER, and STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, with a fifth scheduled to premiere in 2017 on the streaming channel CBS All Access, titled STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. There was even a Saturday morning cartoon series in 1973 featuring the original cast lending their voices to the characters. Thirteen feature films based on the Star Trek Universe have been made, including the most recent, STAR TREK BEYOND. Now one of the most popular science-fiction franchises of all time, it’s hard to believe STAR TREK almost got cancelled in its second season, saved only by a letter-writing campaign by its fervent fans. After the third and final season, the 79 episodes went into syndication, where it found its audience. Trekkie conventions sprung up, and the series became a pop culture phenomenon. These days, its referred to by fans as STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES, but to me it’ll always be just STAR TREK. Happy Golden Anniversary, Enterprise crew… here’s to fifty more years of going “where no man has gone before”!

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(Do you have a favorite episode or any STAR TREK memories to share? Feel free to comment below!)