Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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Still ‘Space’-y after all these years

Las Vegas real estate agent Vitina Graham watched the Hollywood premiere of "Lost in Space" last weekend with more than just a passing interest.

More than 30 years ago, as actress Vitina Marcus, she played the endearing and enduring character of Athena The Green Lady on two episodes of the television series on which the movie was based.

When "Lost in Space" the movie knocked "Titanic" from the No. 1 box office spot after a record 15 weeks, she was not surprised.

"It was a fast-paced action-adventure, but the characters were totally different than those in the TV show," Graham, who today sells property for Medallion Realty, said.

"When I came out of the theater, there was a line around the block waiting to see the next show. I knew it had a chance to beat 'Titanic.'"

Asked if she would recommend the film, Graham said: "I think people would want to satisfy their curiosity and see it. The movie definitely is more high tech than we were. We were so low tech."

Even for its time, TV's "Lost in Space" had very simple special effects and costumes. Graham's character, for instance, wore a green sequin body suit and a crown that resembled a clear salad bowl.

Still, at the Lost in Space Convention at the Hollywood Museum last weekend, Graham received a rousing welcome from fans of the show that had a strong cult following.

"I was surprised at all of the young men who said they were fans of my character," Graham said, noting that many had seen the show in reruns or on videotape.

"For years, I have gotten a lot of response from older male fans, especially from England. I signed a lot of photos last weekend."

In Graham's first appearance on the CBS show (which aired on CBS from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, from Sept. 15, 1965, to Sept. 11, 1968), The Green Lady lured Dr. Smith with a high-pitched chant and put the Robinsons off course. In her second appearance, she continued to attempt to romance the pompous and cowardly Smith.

Graham had -- and continues to have -- the deepest respect for actor Jonathan Harris, who played the buffoonish and inept Smith.

"Jonathan and Billy Mumy (young Will Robinson) made the show," Graham said. "On and off screen, Jonathan had the most wonderful gestures and expressions. He possesses a great deal of warmth and humor."

Born in Brooklyn sometime in the 1930s -- she refuses to reveal her age -- Graham was Miss Bensonhurst of 1953.

She began her television career as a member of the June Taylor Dancers on "The Jackie Gleason Show." Her other 1960s television appearances included guest spots on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Time Tunnel" and "Gunsmoke."

She gave up acting and moved to Las Vegas 25 years ago, became a cocktail waitress and raised two children. Graham got her real estate license in 1986.

Although she has been out of acting for more than a quarter of a century, Graham said that if the "Lost in Space" movie producers decide to make a "Lost 2," she would be happy to return to Hollywood and reprise her television role.