Catching up with the Sensational Kathy Coleman

Growing up in the 70’s, Sid and Marty Krofft’s Land of the Lost was not only the number one rated show on Saturday morning television, but also my all-time favorite Saturday morning TV show, which was perhaps my first introduction into science fiction. Needless to say, Land of the Lost made quite an impression on me as did one of the show’s stars, Kathy Coleman who played Holly Marshal.

Along with her brother Will and Father Rick Marshal, as played by Wesley Eure and Spencer Milligan and later Ron Harper who would play Uncle Jack in season three, the Marshall family did their best to survive in an alternate universe, which was full of Dinosaurs, ape-like humanoids called Pakuni and slow moving lizard-like creatures called the Sleestak. I absolutely loved the Sleestak, their lost city, the underground caves which were their home and especially Enik as played by Walker Edmiston, the displaced Altrusian from the Sleestak’s past.

To this day I can still watch the show in child-like suspension of disbelief and indeed still do from time to time with my children. For years as I have been going to conventions,  waiting in anticipation of actually meeting Kathy Coleman as  I have not only been  a fan of the show,  but  before  Princess Leah of Alderaan and Col. Deering, from Buck Rogers,  it was Holly Marshal whom I had a HUGE and innocent crush on!

So finally, all these years later, I was given the opportunity to not only meet, but sit next to Kathy Coleman as a guest at the recent Galacticon convention in Houston Texas. For that alone I owe my dear friend Shawn O’Donnell, President of the Battlestar Galactica Fanclub and promoter of Galacticon a huge thanks, because he helped the kid in me smile from ear to ear. Shawn also introduced me to Kathy the night before the show, by inviting me to hang out with himself and Kathy along with a few others in the hotel lobby where celebrity guests of the convention were drinking Ambrosia and mingling with the convention staff, attendees and each other!

What an amazing time everyone had who was hanging out in the Hilton lounge area on that Friday evening, because not only were you able to spend one on one time with some of your favorite Battlestar Galactica celebrities, but you could be a part of the convention experience that I have found is often quite different than the experience a fan, guest or attendee can have on the convention floor. This part of a convention experience can be some of the more worthwhile experiences of a convention weekend and in some ways may even be more valuable from a personal perspective than any old signed photo, because the memories are priceless.

On this particular evening, one specific memory jumps out at me the most, which also happens to include Kathy Coleman, along with Esai Morales (Joseph Adama from Caprica) and Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo from Battlestar Galactica), along with perhaps twenty or thirty of the fans and show staff, sitting together in the lounge, singing what I am sure must have been the entire Beetle’s catalog of songs. Quite literally, these celebrities, friends and fans sat together over drinks and sang, laughed, hugged and smiled together for hours! Believe it or not, this first introduction and experience with Kathy Coleman only got better as the weekend progressed.

Sitting next to Kathy all day Saturday was simply a pleasure as she is quite pleasant, down to Earth and a beautiful woman both inside and out! Interestingly, Kathy also has a book she has written called, “Big Girls Don’t Cry“, and fans can get a look at it at http://kcbell.egpub.com.  And did I mention she has a wicked and unique sense of humor, loves her fans and has an inner child-like willingness to have fun at the drop of a dime? Well she does and to give you an example, the Galacticon convention obviously had its share of Cylons walking around and gods are they cool if you have never actually seen one up close. As the Cylons decide that it is yet again time to take a Cylon group photo, I was lucky enough to have them congregate pretty much in front of my table and as the masses of fans and convention attendees are busy snapping photos, Kathy screams, “Photo Bomb.”

She then runs from the back of her area, grabbing a beautiful Sleestak bust she has on her table and jumps in back of the Cylons holding up the Sleestak above her head, with a smile and laugh that is infectious! She is a blast to talk with, gives her fans time, listens, smiles, gives plenty of free hugs and will even teach you a favorite Australian drinking song of hers if you ask real nice.

Then when the show is over for the day, she and her frequent break partner and Battlestar Galactica Fanclub President, Shawn O’Donnell, invite me for dinner (Good old Shawn, always taking care of me). The kid in me screams in delight, the Geeky side of my dark half is jumping for joy as the sophisticated Sci-Fi reporter gracefully accepts before heading to my hotel room for an hour or so of rest if the night before was an indication of when I can expect to be in bed!

An hour and a half of sleep and a shower later, a small group of convention guests/vendors, show staff (Shawn O’Donnell), fellow press (Michael DeVault & Hailey Hatcher) and our very own celebrity (Kathy Coleman) head out for dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant. The walk over was refreshing, the conversation was light yet interesting and the company simply a blast!

What was most interesting and striking about the conversation on the way to dinner was someone in the group asking  Michael DeVault how he was feeling, to which he answered,  “I’m great. I’m walking down the street holding hands with Holly from Land of the Lost.” Now it wasn’t said in an awkward or geeky, can’t control oneself kind of way at all; but regardless there was a moment of silence before Kathy says, “You know, whenever someone says that I don’t think anyone ever thinks about how weird it is being Holly from Land of the Lost in that situation!”

Now even though I could tell that Kathy said it in a very matter of fact and friendly way, the sheer paradigm shift in both perceptions was quite stark I remember thinking to myself. For a moment, I thought I sensed something that wasn’t quite loneliness, but something that no one else except maybe another celebrity could really understand.  The moment really served to illustrate to me just how human our celebrities really are and it made Kathy all the more personable and real in my book.

Dinner was great with some fun joking around, silly moments and even a little dancing in the streets as Michael DeVault showed off his dance moves to a street musician playing on the sidewalk leading back to the Hilton. Memories which forever etched into my convention brain and in the end, isn’t this why we all go to these Cons; for the memories?

Interestingly I again get to have an insight into the real Kathy Coleman as we talked a bit about where we lived and where we came from on the walk back to the hotel. Kathy told me about her adventures living in Mexico for a while on a world renowned beach front piece of land that would attract surfers from all over. The waves in this stretch of beach were so good apparently that the surfing community from as far away as Australia as I recall, would come and stay for a few days or weeks at a time before leaving back to the world again. I got the sense that it was a very Bohemian experience for Kathy and I recall seeing her in my mind’s eye sitting on that beach, with the air blowing her hair effortlessly as she stared off into the deep blue waves while she spoke of it to me. It is in moments like this at a convention when you really begin to get a sense of celebrities being people entirely opposite of the predisposed fiction we often create about these famous folks who we truly know nothing about, yet think we know so well on TV.

The Hilton lounge was yet again a bustle of celebrity and convention folk mingling into the wee hours of the morning, but I didn’t really see Kathy again in any meaningful way until Sunday morning bright and early at our tables. Sundays are always a weird day as well, because all of the new friends made throughout the weekend realize that their off world adventure is almost at an end, with the real world waiting ominously for you only a plane or long car drive away.

But these last hours of the convention were just as fun as all the others and the highlight of Sunday where Kathy was concerned for me were twofold, first was the exchanges of pictures table mates or neighbors always engage in at the end of a show. But even more special was taking a photo with Kathy and her convention assistant, as Kathy plants a friendly kiss on my cheek. This kiss along with my Hispanics in Sci Fi panel was easily among the very best parts of my convention weekend at Galacticon in Houston Texas!

But just as unique was one last bit of time I spent with Kathy, along with the rest of the convention guests and more importantly, the convention’s attendees at the closing ceremonies for this year’s Galacticon. Shawn O’Donnell did an amazing job of helping to wrap up a show no one wanted to be over and thanked each and every guest of the convention by name. What was very special about this closing ceremony was that a few of the celebrities spoke quite eloquently, such as Jack Stauffer who played Bojay in the original Battlestar Galactica as well as the amazing Richard Hatch who of course played one of my first Space Heroes, Captain Apollo on the original Battlestar as well as Tom Zarich in the re-imagined series. But there was also one more celebrity who was introduced by Shawn and took the microphone to thank all of the collected Warriors, Cylons, attendees, staff, reporters and fans; the very special Kathy Coleman.

Speaking to the collected audience, Shawn points over towards Kathy and says, “Now this convention is obviously Battlestar Galactica, but there’s one actress here who’s a good friend of mine who may not be from Battlestar Galactica and she’s not lost, she is found; Kathleen Coleman from Land of the Lost.” And as the crowd begins to cheer, myself included, Shawn continues to say, “The original and only Holly Marshal.” As the applause from the large group becomes thunderous, Shawn motions for Kathy to come up to the microphone, “Come on up here.” he continues as she is then physically lead by hand up to Shawn by Eugene Haggerty, the creator of the almost life sized Cylon Raider parked a mere few feet away from everyone. Kathy and Shawn then share a hug and kiss on the cheek before Kathy turns toward the crowd as the sheer emotion and electricity of the moment and crowd clearly has the actress a bit sentimental.

Waving to the crowd and taking the microphone from Shawn Kathy says, “Thank you guys for letting me be part of this family reunion that we all got to share together. It was really special for me and I met so many great people and had such a blast!” The emotions she is feeling at the moment are plainly visible on her face as she continues talking to the gathered conventioneers, “and I too like Tom (Tom Tagliente, a great Galacticon staffer who addressed the crowd immediately before Kathy) have lost my voice in the process of really having such a good time!”

Taking a deep breath so as to compose herself she finishes addressing the very warm and receptive crowd, “So God bless you all and . . .” she lifts her hand to wave goodbye to the crowd as she struggles to find her words, “. . . and oh, So Say . . . whatever you all say!” as the crowd roars with laughter at the sweet and funny moment before Kathy finishes with a big heart felt smile on her face and everyone else’s for that matter. “I had a really wonderful time! Thank you and goodbye.” With that Kathy walks off back into the crowd and off to her table and I think that was probably one of the last moments I shared with Kathy Coleman and everyone else in attendance that weekend of Galacticon 2013, in Houston Texas.

The weekend was not only a great time for me in that I got the chance to cover an amazing convention like Galacticon, but I also got to meet new friends while spending good times with old ones! But of course, one of the weekend’s highlights for me was having had the chance to meet and get to know (if only a little), the dear, sweet and sensational Kathy Coleman.

SO SAY . . . WHATEVER YOU ALL SAY!

Written By: Tye Bourdony

Tye Bourdony is a Sci Fi cartoonist and creator of ‘The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi’, a mediator, science fiction reporter and the U.S. based content editor for Sci Fi Pulse. He is also a graduate of the Barry University School of Law, SUNY Purchase and H.S. of Music & Art. Tye currently works in Florida’s 9th Circuit as the Staff Family Mediator, is currently the Public Information Officer for the Osceola County Bar Association and has a regular self-published column in Sci Fi Magazine.  You can visit Tye on facebook and at www.thelightersideofscifi.com. You can send Tye your thoughts, story/article ideas and content thoughts to TBourdony@scifipulse.net.

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