Thursday, December 4, 2008

Help Me (find) Rhonda

Note: I'm posting this on behalf of Pantheon Zeus, who deleted his gmail account and swears he can't post.

Rhonda Bates, a tall actress from Indiana, usually played geeky, man-hungry, hillbilly tomboy roles. With her gangly 6’2” frame, wide toothy smile, curly hair and unmistakable down-home drawl – she was a far cry from the buxom, feathered-haired, petite starlets of 1970s “jiggle TV” programming.

In 1975, Rhonda began her career, at age 26, as a featured player on the short-lived variety sketch show Keep on Truckin' alongside co-stars Didi Conn, Fred Travalena, and Wayland Flowers.

Rhonda Bates then had her showbiz heyday from 1977 thru 1980 as a regular on Blansky’s Beauties (a spin-off of Happy Days) where she played “Arkansas” a gawky Vegas showgirl; on the short-lived sitcom The Roller Girls as roller derby queen “Mongo Sue Lampert”; and in one memorable Love Boat episode where she played an ugly stepsister in a ‘Cinderella’ vignette.

She next appeared in the films Fast Break (1979) with Gabe “Kotter” Kaplan, and Roadie (1980) with rocker Meat Loaf and comedy legend Art Carney.

She followed her various film & TV, game show, and Battle of the Network Stars appearances with a co-hosting role on 1980’s

Speak Up, America (a Real People -type “hot topic” reality show). Among her co-hosts was former child-evangelist-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.

Her show with Marjoe didn’t last long, and after popping up in so many projects for years, Rhonda Bates seemed to suddenly vanish from the showbiz radar.

Come Back to the Five & Dime, Rhonda Bates, Rhonda Bates !

After some research, I found that she left acting around age 40 and is now living in Texas. As of this posting, a fan letter is on its way to Rhonda’s home. To Be Continued … I hope.


Pantheon Zeus said...

I found a ROADIE film press kit on-line with Rhonda's early BIO.

Rhonda Bates, who is a native of Fayetteville, Ark., and grew up in Evansville, Ind. She received her Masters degree in drama from the University of Arkansas, then taught health and physical education in her home state before heading for California in 1975. She first received attention doing a standup comedy act at The Comedy Store, a "testing" club in Los Angeles. She was noticed by the producer of a Don Rickles TV special who hired her for same; she later became a semi-regular on Rickles'sitcom "CPO Sharkey."

Mavis Martini said...

I definitely remember her from "Match Game"! A master's degree--wonder if she's teaching again? Do we have any Texas Slammers?

Keith said...

Great write-up. I remember her from back when I was a kid. I did wonder whatever happened to her. It was like she disappeared. That happened with so many other personalities that I grew up watching on tv.

Mr. Sophistication said...

I think we forget too many of our dayplayers.

Lex10 said...

Why do I want to have sex with a mare, now?