Joanna Cameron: Mighty Isis, TV's First Super Lady, Then And Now
In the mid-'70s, the superhero Isis, played by Joanna Cameron, blazed the trail for super-powered TV heroines. The September 1975 debut of Isis on the show bearing her name (later renamed The Secrets of Isis) preceded both Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman. Isis was a half-hour Saturday morning kids' show (rather than an hour-long prime-time drama), but that just meant it was bringing the girl-power message to a younger audience.
Isis was a companion show to Shazam, which featured the adventures of the well-known DC Comics superhero Captain Marvel. The character of Isis, though, did not come from a comic book, but her popularity changed that. A year after Cameron introduced us to the character in the series premiere, Isis entered the DC universe with an appearance in the September/October 1976 issue of Shazam! Though the show is long gone (it lasted just two seasons, for 22 episodes in total), Isis remains a DC Comics character.
From Commercials To The Silver Screen
Joanna Cameron, who was born on September 20 ,1951 in Vaile, Colorado, began studying at the University of California, Riverside. While in college, she appeared in numerous commercials. In fact, she appeared in so many commercials that, according to Merv Griffin, if all of her 60-second commercials were strung together, it would amount to 150 hours of programming. While her commercial fame helped to propel her into her acting career, a bit of serendipity steered her closer to time on the big screen: her college roommate, happened to be Linda Hope, Bob Hope’s daughter. After she was introduced to her roommate’s famous father, he cast her in the 1969 film How to Commit Marriage.
Other Roles Before Isis
In the early ‘70s. she appeared in several television shows, including Marcus Welby, M.D. and Columbo, as well as movies, made for both the big screen and television. One of her other noteworthy film roles was in B.S. I Love You. The role she was best known for would come after that.
The Secret Identity Of A Science Teacher
Starting in 1975, Cameron was cast in the role of Isis on The Secrets of Isis, in part because the producers were looking for an athletic all-American type, and Cameron fit. The Secrets of Isis was a live-action superhero series, which ran as part of the CBS Saturday morning lineup. It predated both Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman, making Cameron the first female television superhero in a leading role. Isis was the alter-ego of Andrea Thomas, a high school science teacher who discovered the Tutmose amulet while on an archaeological dig in Egypt.
Using Jewelry To Engage Superpowers
The amulet originally belonged to Queen Hatshepsut and resembled the headdress of Hathor, an Egyptian goddess. Because Andrea Thomas, the science teacher, was a descendant of Hatshepsut, she had a special connection to the amulet. Whenever she invoked the name of Isis while the amulet was exposed to the sun, she was granted the “powers of the animals and the elements.” She wore the amulet as a necklace and revealed it saying “Oh mighty Isis” whenever, her superpowers were needed. When she became Isis, she looked like a cross between a tennis pro and an ancient Egyptian. To access her superhero powers, as Isis, she would recite a rhyming couplet. For example, when she needed the power of flight, she said “Oh zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly!” Her powers ranged from the mundane (superhuman strength and flight) to the more esoteric (passing through walls, making objects appear and disappear, and reversing time).
Managing To Teach A Lesson In The Meantime
This educator had the ability to save the day once she beckoned the spirit of Isis to become the mini-skirted hero. And she would. Or at the very least, save teenagers from their impending doom, so they could learn a lesson, true to Andrea Thomas’ real-life role as a teacher. Unlike many other superheroes, when Andrea Thomas had not transformed into Isis, she still had one power: she had a telepathic connection with her pet crow, Tut. Incidentally, they did use a crow on the show, and Cameron didn’t like the animal very much. When Andrea Thomas was not Isis, the amulet retained its power as well, when at least once it reflected light and restored a lost memory to an individual. At the end of each episode, just to make sure that the young viewers did learn the lesson, she reiterated it. Occasionally, Isis was accompanied by Captain Marvel, and as Isis, Cameron also appeared in three episodes of Shazam!, the companion show.
Becoming Another Type Of Superhero
After two years as Isis, Cameron had to hang up her amulet, and did not act much after that. She did do a brief stint as a director, directing films for the Navy and she hosted the Navy Network as well as Razor Sharp, a documentary about the Blue Angels. Her last known role was in a tv movie, Swan Song, in 1980. After leaving show business, she worked in home health care for about 10 years and after that, put her marketing degree to use, working for two hotels and living in Hawaii.
Tags: Isis | Joanna Cameron | Superheroes | Then And Now
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