Shore Leave 41 Guest: BarBara Luna

BarBara  Luna

BarBara was born in New York City (on March 2 Pisces) and grew up in Yorkville, one of its most distinct "melting pot" neighborhoods. Her lineage provided her with a unique look, so much so that in the less precise and politically correct show-business world of yesterday she had a decades-long career playing women from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds than her own.

From her mother, she inherited genes from Italy and Hungary (grandmother); from her father, she inherited the genes of Spain and the Philippines.

Just after her eighth birthday, she stepped onto the Broadway stage in the biggest musical hit Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific in her very first show business job. BarBara opened the show speaking in French, playing Ezio Pinza's daughter, by singing the charming children's song "Dites-Moi"with her stage brother, Michael DeLeon, which she also repeated on the big-selling "Original Cast" record album. Rodgers thought so much of her talent and potential that he personally paid for her lessons in singing, drama, diction and dance during the time she remained with the show for two years. She was then cast as one of Yul Brynner's "Siamese children" in the subsequent Rodgers-&-Hammerstein hit, The King and I. Growing taller and more competent R & H contracted her to become swing girl of the company covering children, dancers and singers which she did for three years.

After two Rodgers-&-Hammerstein hit shows she auditioned for Teahouse of the August Moon as the understudy to "Lotus Blossom", even though the role was in Japanese she was hired! Six months after being in her third Broadway hit she was offered the first national company only this time in the starring role of Lotus Blossom and toured with the show for two years. Luna celebrated her 16th birthday in Chicago and her 17th in Los Angeles, after seeing LA that was where she wanted to live.

Luna began her film career inauspiciously in a film called Cry Tough (with John Saxon, and Linda Crystal).

When Columbia talent scout Max Arnow brought her West Side Story screen test to the attention of Producer-Director Mervyn LeRoy who was preparing The Devil at Four O'Clock he asked for a meeting with Luna. Leroy said to her "Kid, you got heart" and gave her the female lead starring opposite to Frank Sinatra.

Luna's subsequent movie roles included Irwin Allen's Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962) and an "A" western, Firecreek (1968) with Henry Fonda and James Stewart, A Dime with a Halo, and Mail Order Bride with Buddy Ebsen and Keir Dullea. The highlight of her big-screen career, though, was Stanley Kramer's Ship of Fools (1965); It was a part for which she had to campaign (with the complicity of screenwriter Abby Mann) because Kramer initially could not see beyond her ethnicity, he wanted Hispanic and thought Luna was Japanese!

Most of Luna's three-decade Hollywood career was spent in people's homes, on television, including multiple episodes of Walt Disney's Zorro, The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, Fantasy Island, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and innumerable guest-star roles. In 1967 she played the single role for which she is best remembered: Marlena Moreau in "Mirror, Mirror" on the original run of Star Trek. She liked William Shatner then, and again when they were reunited almost twenty years later another of his successful tv-series, T J Hooker.

Always keeping one foot on stage Luna appeared at Lincoln Center in West Side Story in the role of Anita and was Morales in the new NY company of A Chorus Line. After leaving ACL she decided to give night clubs a try by approaching Tony award winning composers Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman to write her a club act, successfully she played venues around the country as an opening act for Bill Cosby, from the Catskills to Caesar's Palace to Atlantic City. That stint was cut short when she was offered the role of Maria Roberts on the Soap Opera One Life to Live, another Genre for her to explore!

In 1992 after a trip to Australia for a guest starring role on The New Mission Impossible with Peter Graves, and a trip to the Philippines for a tv-movie with Bob Hoskins, Noriega, Luna decided after an entire lifetime as a performer to formally "retire" ... so she did. However, in 1998 with the passing of her mother and the end of her marriage, television mogul Aaron Spelling told her she was too young to retire and coaxed her onto his soap opera Sunset Beach. Luna's thinking was work is always a good distraction during difficult times, but, she found it wasn't so. After taping five shows Luna was convinced she was right about wanting to retire...and so she did, but, with one exception, she has followed Star Trek into the 21st century by appearing on the Internet in two one-hour original episodes, Star Trek: Phase II, which is downloadable.

In 1997 Luna attended her first Star Trek Convention and she was astounded that anyone cared about having her autograph. She is grateful to travel the world attending conventions and meeting Star Trek and soap opera fans, it is quite an honor and an absolute treat. "What are we without the fans/attendees?" she says, and she means it.

Luna's favorite sports are: Tennis, Hockey, Basketball & Golf.

She is a member of The Thalians, a charitable group which supported mental health and built a wing with its proceeds at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Now monies raised goes to our Veterans. The Thalians was founded in the fifties by the late Debbie Reynolds who was President and Ruta Lee Chairman of the board. Luna is also a Volunteer helping to coordinate Celebrities for autograph shows and many charitable events.