‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century‘ stars Gil Gerard and Felix Silla swapped stories about the life on the set. We all remember when Captain William “Buck” Rogers got lost in those cosmic forces that landed him 500 years into the future. It was great show and it still has a loyal following. Born in Little Rock, AR, actor Gil Gerard had roles in TV and film, and is best known and well-loved for his role as Buck Rogers. Out of Rome, Italy is actor and stuntman Felix Silla. Sci-fi fans remember him for his roles as, Cousin Itt and countless other roles. He of course is loved for his role as Buck Rogers‘ sidekick, Twiki.
Lucky attendees to the first Colorado Springs Comic Con that took place Aug 26-28, 2016 got to chance to meet their favorite celebrities up close and personal.
One that Gerard did when he was playing Buck Rogers was make sure that they had women in very good roles. Thank you, Gil.
Gil Gerard: There was a ballroom scene and all the women were in gowns, and the men were in uniform. I said, where were the women in uniform? You’re telling me that Wilma Deering was the only woman in a uniform making a contribution? I made them stop shooting, go back to wardrobe, and get uniforms for women to wear. I want to see some women in uniform in that scene. I pushed even harder, and said I wanted to see women as pilots; women as aircraft mechanics, soldiers. There are going to be young women watching this show, and I want them to understand from watching this show that if you want to do it, you can do it. I’d love it if a young girl saw the show and said yeah, I could do that. I could be a pilot; and so that’s what we did.
Audience: Were there any outtakes from the set?
GG: I remember one time Dorothy Stratton, God rest her soul, was playing the most genetically perfect woman in the universe or something, and we were transporting her from once place to the other. The captain and I were having a conversation because people were trying to capture her genetic makeup. We got the line where I said to him, they’re after her genes. And he said what? I started over and said they’re trying to get into her jeans, and he started laughing. It took us seven or eight takes for us to stop laughing.
Audience: How long could you actually be in the costume in between takes?
Felix Silla: Mostly a half an hour, except when the camera broke down. Then they’d have me in the corner while they were fixing the camera. They didn’t care who it was in the costume. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes–maybe a half an hour. It wasn’t that bad.
Audience: What was the reason for the hair color change for Wilma Deering? There was a rumor going around that Erin Gray got fired.
GG: Well they did try to replace her after the movie. They had me read with five or six other women for the role of Wilma Deering, and I finally said to them, look: It was one of her first jobs as an actress, and I said yes she’s a little stiff, but it all works for Wilma. Wilma is a little stiff. That’s how they are in that society. We can make that work, and I can make it work with her. The other ladies are fine, but she’ll be terrific in the role.
Audience: Favorite episode?
GG: My favorite was “The Satyr”, and that was in the second season. You know I didn’t like the second season, but that was fun because I was able to play a character type of role. I had a great time with it. Plus, it was very reflective of sort of the style of what I wanted Buck Rogers to be like. I always wanted Buck to stay on Earth, and not go up into space. I mean the guy hasn’t been on Earth for 500 years; why would he leave? He’d kind of like to see what Earth is like, and I always thought that it would be more appealing to audiences as well.
Audience: What was it like to follow in the shoes of the original Buck Rogers?
GG: I didn’t really feel like I was following in his shoes. Ya know, Buster (Crabbe) was a great guy. I did get to know Buster well because we became great friends. We had an interesting conversation, at one point. He said, you know everybody’s all excited about the special effects used in that Buck Rogers today and he said. When I did Buck Rogers back in the 20’s, everybody was excited about the special effects then. Now of course they laugh about it, but it was all cutting edge stuff back then.
FS: He (Buster Crabbe) used to swim 20 laps a day; he didn’t have an ounce of fat. What a wonderful man.
GG: He and Johnny Weissmuller used to go out clubbing and their favorite thing was to stand in in the back of the parking lot and fight people. They loved to fight. If they did that today, they’d be in prison. That was their fun.