Birth Date: February 26 1945
Birth Place: N/A
Marta Kristen was born Birgit Annalisa Rusanen, on February 26,
1945, to a Finnish mother and a German soldier who was killed
towards the end of World War II in Europe. Marta was only two
months old when she was left in an orphanage. In 1949, Prof. & Mrs.
Harold Soderquist of Detroit, Michigan adopted her, and brought her
to America; she was renamed Marta. In 1959 the family moved to L.A.
and Marta attended Santa Monica High School for a year; she later
graduated from Hollywood Professional School. Producer/Director
James B. Harris discovered the pretty, petite aspiring actress; he
arranged for her to get an agent, and she was quickly booked for TV
programs such as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The New Loretta
Young Show." In 1963, Marta met a graduate student, and 6 months
later they got married. Marta's career took off, she made a big
splash as the mermaid Lorelei in _Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)_ (qv).
But she would forever be remembered for her signature role of Judy
Robinson in the "Lost in Space" TV Series. However, the show was
not as great as expected. Marta later said in an interview, "The
show had so much promise. When it started to be silly, we all began
to look at each other and say, 'We're in an episode with talking
vegetables?' Five years of the Actors Studio, and I'm doing this?"
Even worse, the show did not feature her prominently-- in the most
popular episode "The Sky Pirate," in which the great
Finnish-descent actor Albert Salmi guest starred, Marta had only
one word of dialogue (she gets to say "good-bye" to the pirate).
Offscreen, Marta tried to find her roots, but it was not until
1969, pregnant with her first child and traveling alone through
Europe looking for her long-lost relatives, that Marta was able to
find her real mother in Finland; she also met her older sister for
the first time, whom she didn't know about. Later that year, Marta
returned to the USA, and her daughter Laura was born. Marta
concentrated on raising her daughter, and instead of doing
television or films, she appeared in over 40 TV commercials, which
required less time away from home. Marta and her husband divorced
in 1973. In 1974, Marta met Kevin Kane, an attorney, and they got
married (they are still together). Marta has remained moderately
active in TV and movies, even appearing in the big screen version
of _Lost in Space (1998)_ (qv). And, she is still finding more
family members-- in 1997 Marta discovered that she had a younger
brother in Australia, and another sister in Finland she didn't know
about. And she puts her own family ahead of her career. Marta
recently said in an interview, "Now I'm co-parenting my daughter's
child Lena. I used to do a lot of theater and traveled a lot. But
those things are out of the picture for the next couple of years."
However, occasionally Marta will attend a science fiction
convention, delighting her many fans-- Marta is still our favorite
galactic space traveler.
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