Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TV Girl: Kathleen Beller

 
With those large brown eyes and unusually long hair, petite Kathleen Beller was a familiar face to anyone watching television throughout the 1980’s.  From 1982-1984 she was a regular on the nighttime soap Dynasty, playing the character Kirby Anders.   And in 1987, she was one of the stars of the short-lived high school show The Bronx Zoo.   She also appeared in two episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

What you might not know is that Beller’s acting career dates back to the 1970s.  Her first major role was a small part in The Godfather II (1974).  Following this, for a five year period, Beller appeared in a slew of popular television shows including Medical Center, Barreta, Hawaii Five-O and The Six Million Dollar Man where she excelled at the part of playing a 1970’s teen.

Beller also starred in several feature films such as The Betsy (1978) and the Sword and the Sorcerer (1982).  Unfortunately, I don’t think this period piece or sword and sorcery epic fit Beller quite right.  She was better at playing realistic roles that took place in a contemporary setting.  Fortunately, there was no shortage of these for Beller.  An example of a film that better showed off Beller’s sensitive side was Promises In The Dark (1979). In this tearjerker, Beller plays a teenage cancer victim for which she was awarded a Golden Globe.  Surfacing (1981), a movie with similarities to Deliverance, was not quite as successful, but Beller was still electric next to co-star Joseph Bottoms.  My favorite of her features though is the little seen Touched (1983).  Filmed on location in Wildwood New Jersey this is a story about two mental patients who run away together in an attempt to live a normal life.  Beller acts opposite Robert Hays and the film plays like a combination of Carny and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
 
Kathleen Beller was at her best when cast in small productions and she starred in some of the best made-for-tv movies from the late 1970s and early 1980s.  The following three suspenseful movies showed Beller playing a young woman being terrorized.  I would’ve liked to see Beller in more thrillers because she was great in this type or role.

Are You In the House Alone?  (1978) was based on the Young Adult novel by Richard Peck.  The film attempts to tackle the topic of teen date rape. While by no means a great movie, it is interesting in that it also co-stars a young Dennis Quaid and Robin Mattson.

No Place to Hide (1981) is Beller’s best television role.  She plays an artisitic girl who is being followed by a mysterious man in black.  Is he trying to kill her or is she going insane?  The premise for this one is simple, but it works on every level.   Watch this movie and you won’t forget it!

Deadly Messages (1985) is one I have yet to see, but it sounds promising.  In this one, Beller receives threatening messages when playing with a ouija board.

Beller has been retired from acting since the early 1990’s.  One of her last appearances was in a tv pilot entitled Danger Team (1991).  This was a show that attempted to combine Claymation with live action.  She would’ve starred in this vehicle, but unfortunately it was not to be.

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