Several years ago, I interviewed Anne Lockhart, who played Sheba on the original Battlestar Galactica, for a story I was writing about The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.
Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of The Hardy Boys, and no, you didn’t have to be lovesick teenage girl infatuated with Shaun Cassidy to enjoy it.
Through the course of our talk, we rapped a little about Battlestar Galactica, and it was fun to hear her recall how she got the gig.
Lockhart told me how years later she would appear at conventions meeting fans, and one time she was thrilled to meet a pilot who was inspired by the Sheba character to fly.
Yet, it was almost not to be. Three days after Lockhart did an episode of The Hardy Boys, “The Last Kiss of Summer,” Glen A. Larson, who produced the show, sent her the pilot script for Galactica.
“The very first script, it was a show about five guys, and a girl came in every thirty pages and said, ‘Don’t forget your laser gun,'” Lockhart recalls. “I called Glen up, I was broke, I was living with my mother, and I said, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do a good job for you. In order for me to do a good job for you, I’d have to be happy with my work, and I wouldn’t be happy doing this.’ ‘Well we can always re-write the part…’ ‘Yeah, but I have to make the decision based on what you sent me.'”
Anne’s mother, June Lockhart, was of course on Lost In Space, and she had similar limitations from the show as well.
Lockhart continues, “I hung up the phone and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m so nuts. I’m broke, I have $7 to my name, I’m living with my mother, and I just turned down a network series!’ Sure enough, he called me again. Galactica was already on the air by now, it was the biggest freakin’ hit of the world, it was on the cover of Time Magazine, and Jane Seymour didn’t want to do a series. She only wanted to do a couple of episodes. Glen called me and said, ‘I have the opportunity to write a new character to the show, and I’m writing it for you. Can I send you what I’ve written?’ I’m quaking in my boots on the other end of the phone! He sent me twenty five pages of ‘The Living Legend,’ it was a two parter, I read the twenty-five pages and said, ‘Okay, what time do you want me to show up?’ I started Battlestar Galactica on October 20, 1978.”
Ultimately, Galactica didn’t last long, ending April 29, 1979 after it first debuted on September 17, 1978.
As Larson recalled, “ABC got to a point where they had so many hits, they got a little greedy… Battlestar followed The Hardy Boys at one point, and it was awfully expensive. They were looking at the numbers for Mork and Mindy, which were huge, and they said, ‘If we could get a 40 share on a show with one stage, one camera that costs practically nothing, let’s move that one to Sunday night.’ When they moved it, they took out Battlestar, the Hardy Boys, and they cancelled the development of Magnum P.I. So in one phone call, it was like a massacre.”
Another role that Lockhart was reportedly up for was Laurie Strode in Halloween, but she says she never knew about it because her manager at the time didn’t tell her about the offer from John Carpenter.
“Apparently I was, no one ever told me that, I never got an offer,” she says. “My guess is the offer came, it probably got as far as that manager, and he probably said no.”
Lockhart believes Carpenter may have seen her in the 1977 movie Joy Ride, and wanted to cast her from there.