Maren Jensen Then And Now: Battlestar Galactica's Lieutenant Athena
Maren Jensen and Lorne Greene on 'Battlestar Galactica,' 1978. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
As Lieutenant Athena on Battlestar Galactica, Maren Jensen was part of the elite class of take-charge science-fiction heroines of the late '70s. The success of Star Wars (1977) had inspired studios to invest in science-fiction films and TV shows. Jensen's Battlestar Galactica, starring Richard Hatch, Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict, premiered in 1978 and was NBC's first entry into the space race. (It was followed by Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which was also an NBC show, and actually recycled some props and costumes from Battlestar.) Although Jensen was a highlight of the short-lived Battlestar Galactica, her career as an actress did not continue long after the show ended.
Maren Jensen Began As A Model
Maren Kawehilani Jensen was born in 1956 in Arcadia, California. Her father was a physician and her mother was a secretary at the Los Angeles Zoo. After graduating from Herbert Hoover High School, Jensen attended UCLA on a scholarship. While there, she studied theater arts and law. As a theater arts major, she did appear in a few college productions, but she did nothing professional. However, Jensen, whose ancestry is Hawaiian and Danish started a successful modeling career, and appeared on the covers of Mademoiselle and Vogue. A mutual friend introduced her to an agent, Barbara Gale, who landed her appearances in two network commercials. After that, she had a guest role on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries in 1977. In 1978, she was signed for the role of Athena on the television show Battlestar Galactica, which only ran until 1979.
Her Role On 'Battlestar Galactica'
Jensen played Athena, a character whose name was taken from the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Athena joined the colonial military during the final years of the Thousand Yahren War along with her two brothers, Zac (Rick Springfield) and Apollo (Richard Hatch), although Zac was killed in the first episode during the Battle of Cimtar. Their mother was killed during a Cylon strike on the Twelve Colonies of Man. Their father, Adama (Lorne Greene), held the rank of Commander on the Galactica. Athena worked as a bridge officer, directing air traffic (she shared that role with Rigel) and a pilot, piloting Shuttles and Vipers. She also occasionally was a teacher, educating some of the Colonial Fleet’s children. Athena was romantically linked to Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), but he was also dating Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang). Eventually, he was only involved with Cassiopeia.
The Beginning Of The End
Maren Jensen was not an experienced actress and may have been suffering from the beginnings of the condition that would end her career, and even though her acting was beginning to improve, they began to gradually phase her out. Although Athena was created as a central role in the series. Cassiopeia’s role expanded to fill the gap and eventually, producers introduced the character of Lieutenant Sheba. Jensen’s final appearance was in the episode “Greetings From Earth,” although she was credited for the remaining episodes of the season.
Her Final Acting Roles
The end of her time on Battlestar Galactica did not mean the end of her acting career. She also appeared on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Battle of the Network Stars. In 1981, she appeared alongside Sharon Stone in Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing. She ended her acting career when she contracted Epstein-Barr Syndrome. She fully recovered, but did not return to acting.
Her Life After Acting
Jensen’s long-term companion was Don Henley, singer and drummer with the Eagles. In 1982, he released his solo album I Can’t Stand Still, which he dedicated to her. In the liner notes for his 1984 album Building the Perfect Beast, he credited Jensen for composing the piano intro and interlude on “A Month of Sundays.” Jensen appeared in his music video for “Not Enough Love in the World,” and she sang backup vocals for his song “Johnny Can’t Read.” In 1985, she and Henley were engaged, although they broke up in 1986. However, in the 1990s, she helped him found The Walden Woods Project, an organization dedicated to saving Walden Woods in Massachusetts from development.
Jensen later married Johan Kugelberg, and the couple had a daughter. While they kept their relationship very private and much of Jensen's life has remained out of the public eye, there have been rumors of their separation.
Tags: Battlestar Galactica | Ladies | Maren Jensen | Science Fiction
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