The green Orion girl from the Star Trek pilot directed this M*A*S*H fan-favorite episode

She could be seen in the final frontier, the Twilight Zone and Mayberry — then she directed a groundbreaking episode of M*A*S*H.

CBS Television Distribution/Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

The green-skinned Orions are one of the most well-known and iconic alien races on Star Trek. They're right up there with Vulcans, Klingons and Tribbles. Even one of the current Trek series, Star Trek: Lower Decks, has an Orion lead character, Ensign Tendi, who works in the med bay.

We got to meet this new species in the first pilot of Star Trek. Not "The Man Trap," which was the first episode aired, but the unused pilot "The Cage," which was rejected by NBC and another pilot was ordered. "The Cage" had no Kirk, no McCoy, none of the crew we would become familiar with — with the exception of Spock. Instead we had Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, Majel Barrett as Number One, and John Hoyt as Dr. Boyce. Oh, and Susan Oliver.

Susan Oliver, who played beautiful intergalactic castaway Vina, was not actually an Orion. She was a human, who had been stranded on Talos IV. However, in one illusion created by the native Talosians to make her more appealing to Pike, she is portrayed as a green-skinned Orion. This scene was finally seen on television when "The Cage" was recut into the two-part season-one episode "The Menagerie," which addresses what happened to Spock's previous captain, Pike. The episode is regarded as one of the series' best and was one of two episodes of TOS that won a Hugo Award (the other was "The City on the Edge of Forever.")

The image of Oliver as the seductive green girl was frequently seen in the end credits and became one of the most iconic for the series. Fans all over knew about the Orions, long before Yvonne Craig appeared as one in season three. It was such a famous image that a 2014 documentary about Oliver's life was titled The Green Girl.

She was much more than a green girl, however. During her acting career, she picked up over a hundred credits, many for guest-starring roles on TV episodes. She played another alien, a Martian, in the Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over." She batted her eyes at Andy Griffith and Don Knotts in The Andy Griffith Show's "Prisoner of Love."

Later in her career, she turned to directing. She was one of the original 19 women admitted to the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women in 1974, joining the likes of Maya Angelou and Lily Tomlin. In 1982, she had the chance to direct an episode of M*A*S*H.

For fans of Nurse Kellye, played by Kellye Nakahara, the season-eleven episode directed by Oliver "Hey, Look Me Over" is one of the best. In it, Nurse Kellye takes Hawkeye to task for his shallow views of women. This episode contains the famous "I happen to be cute as hell" speech from Nakahara, as well as a heart-wrenching moment where she comforts a dying soldier. 

In an interview with NPR, Nakahara said "What she was to me was a genuine person who wasn't being looked at in the same way as the glamorous girls that were coming through the compound. And when she just stood up to Hawkeye and told him off, she made it clear that there's so much more to me than you think there is. And I got mail. I still get mail. I have people coming up to me that say, as far as being Asian, you're the first role model that I had of an Asian that wasn't portrayed as an Asian, just as a person.

And I think that was — it took a long time, I think, for that to come around. I hope that it's starting to change now. But I think it's taken a long time."

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37 Comments

Cougar90 15 hours ago
She was also a veteran airplane pilot and took part in many air races.
MrsPhilHarris 10 days ago
I didn’t really get it because we like what we like. If he liked tall, leggy blondes that is what he liked.
MichaelPowers 10 days ago
Susan Oliver was also a top notch pilot.
BenSobeleone 11 days ago
Susan Oliver was on an episode of Night Gallery with Pernell Roberts. The episode: "The Tune in Dan's Cafe." One of my favorite episodes. The jukebox played that same tune over and over again. MeTV ran that show several years ago. Wish they would show it again.
Rob BenSobeleone 5 days ago
I don't think that there's much of a chance that MeTV ever makes any significant changes to their programming schedule. Prove me wrong, MeTV!
WordsmithWorks 11 days ago
"Look Me over" was a great episode. I loved Nurse Kelleye and was glad she got a major story line. And I was happy to see Hawkeye get a well-deserved comeuppance when Gary Grubbs (Harlan from Will & Grace) peeked out from inside the tent. I'd put Kelleye up there with Sidney Freedman and Colonel Flagg as favorite recurring characters.
CaptainDunsel 11 days ago
Classic story about the green makeup for the Orion slave girl and the early days of sci-fi television production: When they were testing makeup in pre-production, they had trouble getting the green makeup to register properly on film. In the first tests they did, the makeup wasn't at all apparent. So, they kept going to darker and more vivid green, but it just wasn't working. They finally found out that the lab, not knowing what they were trying to do, kept "fixing" the "mistake" in the color registration on all the test footage.
JohnnyWalker 4 months ago
In "Prisoner of Love" Susan Oliver turned Andy and Barney to jelly. I notice the Metv versions of the show don't show the whole thing to the very end...and it's worse on tvland. Tvland jams as many commercials as they can so you never get to see the original whole show. Now Pluto has Andy Griffith Show on 24/7...but only the black and white ones...but they show the WHOLE show...Including the very end...w credits. They have commercials but they don't run 6 minutes each break and cut into the entire show. For instance when Ben Weaver was gonna evict the Scobees..the ending....which you NEVER see on tvland..has Ben and Andy at the courthouse getting ready to go fishing. Andy suggests they pick up Mr.Scobee but Ben says they can't cuz Scobee is at Ben's store working for him so he can afford the mortgage. You NEVER see that ending on any network other than Pluto.
Mblack 11 months ago
Yvonne Craig was green skinned on Star Trek, too
Wiseguy70005 Mblack 11 months ago
That was mentioned in the article.
Avie 11 months ago
"The green-skinned Orions are one of the most well-known and iconic alien races on Star Trek."

You mean one of the BEST-known and iconic alien races.

"Well known" is not sacrosanct, nothing that can be turned into a superlative only by tacking on modifiers, which start to make a sentence gobbledygook.
LmerFudd 11 months ago
My love of She Hulk is a result of this episode.
tootsieg 11 months ago
I love that episode! Thank you for the behind the scenes story. A posthumous 👏 to Susan Oliver and Kelley Nakahara.
KawiVulc 11 months ago
"One of" the current series? How many are they up to now... milk that cow!
Trekkie1969 KawiVulc 11 months ago
As of now, there are three left airing new episodes, but there were five! It's a nice era to be a Trekkie! (But TOS is still my favorite❤️ 🖖)
Rob Trekkie1969 11 months ago
TNG is my favorite.
Andybandit 11 months ago
Good for her for writing something with Nurse Kellye in it on MASH.
LoveMETV22 11 months ago

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Good story. Kellye Nakahara was cute, and it would have been nice if she had more airtime on the series, however she played the part very well.
LoveMETV22 LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Kudos to Susan Oliver as well.
WordsmithWorks 11 months ago
I wish they would have given Kellye more story lines. I thought she was a great character, for not being "five-foot nine with blonde hair."
teire 11 months ago
Cool story, the Nurse Kellye episode is memorable.
Pacificsun 11 months ago
Wonderful story, and so long over due if it's not already been covered via MeTV. Thank you MeTV Staff.

Absolutely, outstanding in her all careers. Never knew about the directing. Had to check that one out via Wiki. Or being a pilot. But all the roles she played were memorable. Because her personality was unique and authentic. She defied the stereotype of a beautiful dumb blond hired for appearances. And (similar to Nancy Knovack) offered incredible depth and experience in her interpretation (presentation) of characters and roles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Oliver
cperrynaples 11 months ago
It should be noted that while Oliver played an alien on TZ, she didn't have to wear green makeup! In that episode, the Martians look just like us, but there's a twist at the end! Without giving it away, it's sorta simular to the original POTA, which was also written by Rod Serling!
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KJExpress texasluva 11 months ago
Okay. Looking forward to the MQ and seeing what you have in store for us. 😀
cperrynaples Pacificsun 11 months ago
Good point! Neither McDowell nor Oliver expected the end! I wonder if Serling was making another Holocaust reference!
Mike cperrynaples 9 months ago
To all of you -
Roddy MC DOWALL.
#look things up#
I doubt it. It wasn't Serling's original idea. He wrote the teleplay, but it was based on the short story "Brothers Beyond the Void" by Paul Fairman.
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