JoAnna Cameron, one of the first female superheroes on TV, dies at 73
JoAnna Cameron, who in the 1970s portrayed Isis, the first female character on television with superpowers, and appeared in more National Network TV commercials than anyone, died on October 15 in Oahu, Hawaii. She was 73 years old.
The cause was complications from a stroke, said Joanna Pang Atkins, who starred with Ms. Cameron on the Saturday morning children’s series “Isis.”
Ms Cameron, who burst into cinema in 1969 with a small role in a Bob Hope film, led the way by arriving on the small screen as Isis in September 1975, two months before Lynda Carter was born. makes her first appearance as Wonder Woman. “The Bionic Woman”, with Lindsay Wagner, began in January 1976.
“Isis” starred Ms. Cameron as Andrea Thomas, a high school science teacher who had acquired the powers of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of healing and magic. Running at gazelle speed, flying like a hawk and displaying superhuman strength, she used her extraordinary powers to fight crime.
The series aired on CBS from 1975 to 1977; the reruns were then syndicated under the name “Les secrets d’Isis”.
Ms. Cameron’s other television roles included appearances in “Columbo,” “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Bold Ones: The New Doctors”.
A flexible brunette, she also received huge exposure as a television model for dozens of commercial products. The Guinness Book of World Records stated in 1979 that she appeared in over 100 network television commercials, more than anyone in advertising history.
Advertisers spent over $ 100 million “using JoAnna as the centerpiece of their cosmetics, shampoo, wine, beer, pantyhose and breath freshener ads,” TV Guide reported in 1979, adding that “she certainly has a face that can sell a product.”
Ms Cameron was athletic and outdoorsy, and appeared in commercials skiing, scuba diving, piloting a jet, driving a race car and letting off steam in a field of flowers. She flew with the Blue Angels and worked promoting the United States Navy. But many of his other ads were for personal products. In a tights commercial, she struck a Mrs. Robinson pose. In a cigarette stain, she smoked. She also made a brief foray into commercials, but didn’t appreciate it.
When she appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” Mr. Griffin said if all of her commercials were chained, they would last 150 hours, or six days of continuous viewing. He noted that advertisers had said she had “the perfect face,” although he did not specify what that meant.
When Mr. Griffin asked her if she felt pretty, she refused. “Pretty,” she said, “comes from being healthy and feeling good about who you are and what you do.”
Patricia Kara Cameron was born September 20, 1948 in Greeley, Colorado, where her parents, Harold and Erna (Borgens) Cameron, operated a drive-thru restaurant.
She showed an interest in comedy from an early age. While in high school, she worked with the Little Theater at Colorado State College, where she played a role in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
After moving to California in the 1960s, she worked part-time at Disneyland as a tour guide. She was the winner of “The Dating Game” and JoAnna’s finalist in “The Dream Girl of 1967” television beauty pageant.
Her big break came when she became friends with Bob Hope’s daughter, Linda. Mr. Hope chose her for “How to Commit a Marriage” (1969), a comedy in which he starred with Jackie Gleason and Jane Wyman.
On Mr. Gleason’s advice, she dropped the name Patricia and started calling herself JoAnna Cameron, although her on-screen credits mention her differently as Jo Anna Cameron, Joanna K. Cameron, Joanna Kara Cameron, and Joanna Cameron.
Her other films included “Pretty Maids All in a Row” (1971) and “BS I Love You” (1971). She was in consideration for the role of Jenny Cavilleri in “Love Story” (1970), but it went to Ali MacGraw.
After her last film, in 1980, she settled permanently in Hawaii, where she often visited. She lived a quiet, anonymous life there, a friend in Hawaii said by email, and few people knew about her Hollywood career or that she had starred in “Isis.”
With a nursing degree she obtained in California, she turned to patient care, working in private facilities or in patients’ homes and providing comfort and care, similar to hospice work.
She also had a degree in marketing and later became a marketing manager for two large hotels.
When asked in a 2002 interview for an Isis fan website if she had ever been afraid of being cataloged by her role of Isis, she expressed no doubts.
“Who’s afraid of being labeled a superhero? ” she answered. “If you have to be labeled, take the superhero. Or Egyptian goddess.