Nancy Kovack: Star Trek Siren, Joker Accomplice, and Argonauts' Medea, Then And Now
Left: Nancy Kovack in 'Jason And The Argonauts.' Right: Kovack in a publicity portrait. Sources: IMDB; eBay
Nancy Kovack, famous for her portrayal of Medea in Jason And The Argonauts and TV work including Batman, Star Trek, and Bewitched, was the ultimate dream girl during the 1960s. Although her screen time was usually minimal, her limited appearances, usually centered around sultry scenes, impressed the masses. With her stunning physique, glamorous demeanor, and divine cheekbones, Kovack certainly possessed the “it factor,” as she worked alongside famed icons including The Three Stooges, Elvis Presley, Vincent Price, and Dean Martin. Ironically, she had no desire to ever become a film star, but fate still shot her into fame and fortune.
One Lucky Wedding
Nancy Kovack was born on March 11, 1935 in Flint, Michigan. To supplement her exquisite beauty, she was also a brainiac and attended the University of Michigan at age fifteen, became a radio DJ at sixteen, and graduated college at nineteen. Along the way, she also won at least eight beauty pageants by the time she turned twenty. Kovack was discovered at a wedding during the late ‘50s in New York City and she initially began a modelling career that steered her into becoming a “Glee Girl” on The Jackie Gleason Show.
Nancy Kovack's Career Took Off In The '50s
Soon, she would be appearing on The Dave Garroway Show, The Today Show, and Beat The Clock. Kovack landed on stage with a role in Broadway’s The Disenchanted which eventually led to a contract with Columbia in 1959. From that moment, she attained her first major role on television in the United States Steel Hour program and made her film debut in the Kirk Douglas film Strangers When We Meet in 1960.
Kovack Landed Various Provocative Roles
The 1960s saw Kovack in a variety of movies and television series, especially in the fantasy and adventure category with films like The Wild Westerners (1962), Great Sioux Massacre (1965), and Tarzan And The Valley Of Gold (1966). Typically, she played a mesmerizing beauty the star would try to win over. Her two breakthrough moments both occurred in the year 1963 when she first co-starred in the horror film Diary Of A Madman as the striking model Odette Mallotte DuClasse.
Kovack Was Unforgettable As Medea
Many would say that Kovack's most significant moment was the film that was released the summer of 1963, Jason And The Argonauts. The film was a disappointment critically, but its Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animations make it a cult classic. Perhaps Kovack couldn't quite compete with the animated Talos, Hydra, and skeleton warriors, but among the human characters she stood out, as the High Priestess of Colchis Medea, who performs an erotic dance that enchanted male viewers worldwide.
Three years later, she had a supporting role in the Matt Helm spoof spy film The Silencers as the sultry villainess Barbara, a cold-blooded killer who seduces her victims before murdering them.
Kovack Cameoed In Some Of The Biggest Hits Of The 1960s
Kovack continued to work alongside prestigious stars on television throughout the rest of the 1960s. One of her most famous moments was her character Sheila Sommers, the ex-girlfriend of Darrin Stephens and Samantha’s arch enemy, who appeared in three episodes of the hit series Bewitched. Kovack returned to Bewitched to play Clio Vanita in the two-part "Cousin Serena Strikes Again" story.
She also appeared as the sensual woman Nona from another planet that Spock, Captain Kirk and the rest of the gang arrive on in the 1968 episode “A Private Little War” of fantasy series Star Trek. Playing Rita Mitchell, a made-up famous actress who goes on a date with Tony on I Dream Of Jeannie, Kovack’s character makes Jeanie jealous and inspires her to try to take up acting as well.
Kovack Played The Joker's Henchwoman
In addition to Star Trek, Kovack got to appear on that other cult favorite from 1966: Batman. In the two-part story that introduced Cesar Romero as The Joker (episodes "The Joker Is Wild" and "Batman Is Riled"), Kovack played his comely henchwoman Queenie.
Retirement Came Early For Kovack
Kovack made her final film appearance in 1969 as an astronaut’s wife in the movie Marooned. She continued to work in television through the mid-'70s, appearing on Love, American Style, Mannix and Ellery Queen. Her final two TV credits are for the shows Bronk and Cannon, in 1976.
Nancy Kovack Married Conductor Zubin Mehta
After filming Marooned, she met and married Zubin Mehta, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and later the New York Philharmonic. She chose to retire from her screen work and has lived a private life, albeit one of frequent travel, as her husband has conducted orchestras in Munich, Florence, Tel Aviv and Valencia (Spain). The only moment she was back in the news was when Kovack sued her former personal assistant for alleged embezzlement during the 1990s.
Tags: Batman | Bewitched | Jason And The Argonauts | Ladies | Nancy Kovack | Star Trek | Then And Now
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