Once again our friends at Roddenberry Entertainment have unearthed a piece of Star Trek history. Today’s episode of Larry Nemecek’s The Trek Files solves a casting mystery that dates back to Star Trek: The Original Series.
A Star Trek mystery
One of the memorable performers from the second season finale of Star Trek: The Original series had no lines and shared billing with a cat, but is still enduring to this day. That season finale, titled “Assignment: Earth,” was a sort of backdoor pilot from Gene Roddenberry as a backup plan in case Star Trek didn’t get a third season. It was a time travel show, with the Enterprise traveling back to 1968, the year the second season was on the air. The focus of the episode was on the mysterious character Gary Seven, trained by aliens to save the Earth from itself. Gary’s constant companion was a shapeshifting pet cat named Isis. While Isis seemed to speak telepathically with Gary Seven, the actress who played Isis in her human form never spoke. As such, she was one of many extras who was never credited, leaving her identity a bit of a mystery.
For years Playboy pinup and actress Victoria Vetri was associated with the role, even garnering her a page on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki. TrekMovie even did an article about Vetri back in 2010 when she ran into some legal trouble. However, in 2018 the actress and model revealed she was never part of Star Trek, and her credit was subsequently removed from Memory Alpha, leaving the identity of the performer as “unknown.” Star Trek history knew the name of one of the cats who played Isis (Sambo), but the name of the human actress remained a mystery. Until today.
Combing through Gene Roddenberry’s archive of documents from Star Trek: The Original Series, the team from The Trek Files came upon documents for “Assignment: Earth.” These documents regarding production details for the episode could finally solve this mystery of the Isis actress. The standard actors call sheet for January 5th – the one day Isis was on set in her human form – includes a listing for a performer to be on set 10:00 AM, but only lists that performer as “1 Female (New)” under “Atmosphere and Standins.”
However, the “Extra Talent Call Sheet” for that day was the key. Along with other familiar “Standing” background extra actors such as Eddie Paskey, there is a listing for “1 Cat Girl” to be on set at 10:00 AM. Importantly, it includes the performer’s name as April Tatro. Tatro herself was contacted by The Trek Files and confirmed she played Isis in human form for “Assignment: Earth.” According to the sheet, Tatro was budgeted to be paid the standard rate for all the extras of $29.15 for the day, plus the cost for time for being fitted with her costume and body makeup. An additional production report unearthed by The Trek Files shows her adjusted rate of $84.51.
April Tatro worked mostly as a contortionist, performing on stage and on television. Just months after her work on Star Trek she appeared again on NBC, on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Tatro also appeared on Laugh-In, Fernwood Tonight and The Gong Show. Her career on television ran through to 2001, appearing again as a contortionist on an episode of Malcolm in the Middle.
Isis actress April Tatro interviewed by Trek Files
Larry Nemecek had a chance to speak to April Tatro about her time working on Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” on the episode of The Trek Files released today. Nemecek tells TrekMovie: “This week’s episode is one of those that makes the whole concept of The Trek Files worthwhile. We’re going to be solving a Star Trek mystery.”
On the podcast, Tatro talked about her fitting for her rather skimpy costume, saying, “I’d never had so much attention in all my life.” Speaking of attention, Tatro also reveals that Star Trek star William Shatner asked her out. Even though she was engaged to be married in just two weeks, she accepted the offer and went out to lunch with Shatner.
You can download the “Assignment: Earth” production documents on Google Drive. For more on April Tatro in “Assignment: Earth” and other Trek Files head on over to the program’s hub on Facebook.
Extras casting, call sheets and assorted documents from TOS "Assignment Earth" – January 5, 1968Download the PDF: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LwhFe
Keep up with all our coverage of Star Trek history at TrekMovie.com.