Vitina Marcus is a beautiful woman. She shares that same timeless beauty, which has blessed those lucky few like Jacqueline Bisset, Catherine Deneuve and June Wilkinson.
In Lost in Space, Vitina’s character Athena is passionately in love with Dr Smith and as Bob May’s Robot would no doubt say, “This does not compute.” The Robot would be right because Vitina is also a beautiful enigma.
This stunning New Yorker with the hot Sicilian blood and the ethereal heart possessed such a striking beauty that she could not be easily pigeonholed by the Studios. Almost at once they cast her in exotic, mildly erotic or primitive roles; most often seen as a jungle girl or Indian princess as can be seen in films like Lost World and Taras Bulba. Thus her striking beauty became her stereotype and because of this Vitina was destined to spend much of her career as a guest star rather than a regular, and so found a home through the 50s and 60s appearing in more than two dozen programmes from Have Gun Will Travel, The FBI, Time Tunnel and her most famous roles as Athena and Lorelei in Lost in Space. In fact, David Hedison considers, “Return of the Phantom” as one of his all time favourite Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episodes. In this show Vitina played the dual-role of Maria/Lani in this her second appearance in that hit series. And if you hadn’t guessed already, Vitina played a native girl in the first appearance.
Since leaving school, Vitina has been a dancer/showgirl/actress/real estate agent and through it all she has maintained her unbridled free spirit. And in that desert city of dusty dualities they call Las Vegas Vitina leads a life split between Mother Nature and beautiful homes. Even so you sense that despite her magical inner self, Vitina is strangely drawn back to the memories of the old Hollywood; that out of the ether she will steal across the stage to sign a photo or two and relive past memories. And into the green ether this mysterious beauty will vanish once more.
David: What is your most enduring memory from working with Lee Strasburg at his Actor’s School? And who were some of the actors you worked with in your time there?
Vitina: Lee Strasburg’s stoic face. As a young girl it was very intimidating, that lack of expression or response. In contrast he came alive when the student was on stage & he was critiquing the work. Then the emotions & passion relating to one’s "instrument" & the work performed would be visible at last. I studied with him for close to 4 years in my home city of New York.
David: Did you find the teaching styles of Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Corey varying greatly from your earlier work with Lee?
Vitina: Regarding Leonard Nimoy’s workshop in Hollywood before the famous Mr Spock of Star Trek, it was alive with creativity & mental stimulation of an extroverted type. It was pure improvisations! The mind had to be quick & working at all times to respond to each other regarding the circumstances we were given to live out at that moment. Time went quickly & it was good energy.
Jeff Corey’s workshops were more on a serious note for me. Working on scenes & preparing for productions from another angle.
David: Did you sign your first autograph while working as a dancer or as a young actress? What was this first request like for you?
Vitina: I signed my first autograph when I was a Jackie Gleason Showgirl/Dancer in New York at the age of 17 or 18. It was an odd feeling at that moment to be asked for my first autograph, kinda like I was in another zone. I had just recently graduated from High School and this was a new world for me. However I could not very well say no.
David: Do you have humorous or unusual stories from working with actors like Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando? Are some of the friendships you forged in those days still going strong today?
Vitina: I do not have lasting friendships with other actors I’ve worked with. I live away from the Hub of the film business. I’m a Realtor in Las Vegas.
The Actor I most respected & admired & enjoyed working with was Yul Brynner in Taras Bulba. He was truly a gentleman & a great Star. I will never forget him actually voluntarily standing in for the other star that was too busy to do the scenes with me. Yes, he related to me with utmost consideration & respect and I will always think of him as a very special man. My part was that of a wild Gypsy dancing & kinda romancing with Tony Curtis. Not all of my scenes were left in. This took place in my early days in Hollywood.
David: Which of your shows do people most ask about getting your autograph?
Vitina: The show I most get most asked to sign autographs for is The Green Lady from Lost in Space. Those 2 episodes really stuck with me although I’ve done many Westerns and various other shows. I did really enjoy playing the Green Lady from another planet. In some ways it’s like I really am, from another planet.
David: How did your meeting with Irwin Allen come about and which series or movie did you most enjoy appearing in during the 60s?
Vitina: My meeting with Irwin Allen was the strangest ever. When my agent Lou Kaufman took me to his office Mr Allen said "Do you know why you’re here?" I didn’t know. I had been to 20th Century Fox only yesterday & didn’t know the reason I was back so quickly & in his office, neither did my agent. He said I saw the back of you step into an elevator & had the guards track you down. Wow! I was then tested for the Native Girl in the Lost World & got the part. It was a great cast that included Claude Raines & Michael Rennie.
David: Great beauty runs in your family and your daughter Athena was once voted the most beautiful showgirl in the world. Have you ever had the opportunity to work with your daughter in a live show?
Vitina: My Daughter was voted "The Most Beautiful Showgirl in the World." I saw the show on TV. It took place in Paris with Ben Vereen hosting. It was unbelievable. As a child growing up she would have nothing to do with acting or dancing & would refuse interviews. The only time we ever worked together was when I joined her to contribute some of my knowledge to her Yoga & Health classes here in Las Vegas. She has since graduated from UNLV with a degree in the Romance languages, French, Italian, & Spanish, & is now a school teacher & studying for her Masters Degree.
David: What is the most enjoyable part of your current lifestyle?
Vitina: Besides raising my children, living in a Yoga Ashram, teaching classes, in the US & Canada, working in a casino & now as a Realtor in Las Vegas, in my private life I care for my dear animal family, & the dear ones that need help & rescue, am ongoing with my spiritual self development & self correction & knowledge of health & healing in a non toxic way for both the human & so called animal kingdom. I’m always upgrading my knowledge of nutrition (mostly raw food) I do not eat dead animals, & even though I do not support slaughter I realize my Mastiff & Cats do have a digestive system where their natural food is carnivorous however I mix the pulp of vegetables & Herb’s in their food to mimic a wolf’s diet in the wild. My home is so rich with their love & protection.
David: In recent years have you been invited to make any TV shows or to attend some of the autograph conventions or memorabilia shows?
Vitina: As I said I have been living away from the Hub of Show business for many years. It was about 1997 or 98 that I showed up for the LIS celebration at the Museum of Radio & Television. It was my first time in over 30 years & the reaction was almost as if I was a ghost that just appeared. I too felt very strange to be there. I was asked by several people where have I been. It certainly was surprising to me that The Green Lady was so popular & now that I have a web site I get email from not only around the USA but internationally from well wishers and for my signed photos.
Over the last few years I have only come & gone quickly from a few science fiction & celebrity events. I attended Mickey Sinardi’s Showstopper Productions Event in November 2003 as part of the proceeds went to help "Last Chance Animals." Who knows if I will be back to work as an actress again? It depends on what I magnetize to myself & what fate has in store for my purpose in this life.
David: What is your all-time favourite movie, Vitina?
Vitina: What comes to mind is sitting in my grandmother's sun porch with the wicker furniture as a little girl & reading "Gone with the Wind" from cover to cover& then going to see the movie with the fine performances of Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh & all the other Actors & Actresses.
David: Do you have any final messages, thoughts or stories that you would like share with your fans?
Vitina: I feel truly fortunate to be healthy, strong & energetic. I work out, take long walks & run with my dear Thunder & feel my connection spiritually. He has a web site attached to mine I believe there’s a spot that says "I Am" & under that Vitina Marcus. If one clicks that his site comes up. His close companion is my black Siamese cat that I think of as my little loving leopard.
As for UFO’s, yes I have seen the lights of the ships in a small town in Death Valley that is a space portal & some objects right here in Las Vegas. Some contactees have given forth much wisdom from those off planet. The human mind has so much to relate to if one chooses to. There is a vastness of beauty on our beloved planet Earth & it is heart wrenching to think of the blood spilled on her body.
© David Priol 2003
Photos copyright to their various owners