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A colonel and star fighter pilot of the Earth Directorate in the year 2491; companion to Buck Rogers throughout many 'epic' adventures in the television series and films, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!.

Played by the actress and model Erin Gray, Wilma's no-nonsense tough character actually gave many girls the inspiration to become pilots themselves, as well as providing sex appeal for the boys! In the first series Gray a natural brunette had to dye her hair blonde to fit the roll, something that gave her some consternation, as she worried about the long term damage it might do her hair. At this time she was still working as a model, and so as a compromise the studio came up with a hair style of blonde at the front and brown at the back. Also she thought the character to impersonal and cold, and the scenes that showed a softer side to Wilma were always edited out. During the second series, on board the space ship Searcher this character bias flipped the other way, seeing Wilma become much more superficial, and has been described as being little more than a stewardess who smiled and delivered her lines. Erin herself said :-

(Deering) "got a short skirt and lost all her power and strength."

This whole attitude is displayed in the 8th episode of the second series 'Shgoratchx!' The Searcher finds a derelict space ship with a crew of seven dwarfs, who have never seen a women before... They are put under the protection/custody of Wilma, but rapidly set about using their telekinetic powers to slowly pop all the fastenings on her little white space dress. As their cries of 'Off think! Off think' build to a crescendo, and Wilma gets all hot and flustered, Buck bursts just too soon and stops the seven dwarfs getting a glimpse of the 'bumps' they were so keen on...

Regardless of the problems with the role she had, the heroine that was (or maybe will be in the 25th century) Wilma Deering has inspired people and is warmly remembered. She also still seems to be making public appearances at SciFi cons, so you could still get to meet your hero! Lastly, another quote from Erin :-

"It's amazing the continued love for Buck Rogers, there seems to be a wonderful ability for the show to cross-over into different age groups; the whole family could sit down and enjoy it."

Lieutenant Wilma Deering got her start in 1928, when Philip F. Nowlan's novel Armageddon 2419 AD was serialized in Amazing Stories, illustrated by Frank R. Paul.

When Lieutenant Deering first discovered Anthony "Buck" Rogers on a routine patrol he was climbing out of the cave he had been trapped in for 500 years, into an America devastated by "Han" invaders.  Their meeting place being in country infested by bandits, she tries to shoot him with her ray gun first (It was not usual for the woman to make the first move in those days), but he saves her life and they went on to beat back the invaders. Buck and Wilma's adventures continued in a 1929 sequel, The Airlords of Han.

John Flint Dille hired Nowlan to create a comic strip for his National Newspaper Service syndicate. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, drawn by Dick Calkins, first appeared in the comic pages on January 7, 1929, and Buck and Wilma fought off the "Mongol" invaders continuously until 1967.

The strip was so popular that Buck Rogers branced out into other media; Adele Ronson was the voice of Wilma Deering throughout the 1932-1939 Buck Rogers radio serial on CBS.

In 1939, Buck and Wilma moved to the silver screen in a 12-part film serial with Buster Crabbe as Buck and Constance Moore as Lieutenant Deering.

As the Television Age began, the 24th Century was a meme sure to be revisited, and so in 1950 and 1951, Lou Prentis played as Lieutenant Deering every Tuesday night on ABC from 8:00 to 9:00.

No analogue of Wilam Deering appeared in the Daffy Duck short "Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century!!!"; Porky Pig does not qualify as a love interest, sorry.

Finally, in a 1979 movie and a 1979-1981 TV series, eye-popping Erin Grey played Wilma Deering, now promoted to Colonel, opposite Gil Gerard's Buck. This time, they were struggling to survive after a nuclear war, as well as fighting off a few of Earth's former colonies feeling their oats, having become more independent after losing touch with the mother world.

I wonder who will be playing Wilma when the 25th century finally does roll around.

Summarized from

Ken Pierce Books - BUCK ROGERS IN 2430 A.D.

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