Although Anne Lockhart has appeared in many movies, television series, theatre, commercials, and voice work, her most notable role was as "Sheba" in the series Battlestar Galactica. She played a tough as nails warrior, with caring and compassion, and a weakness of trying to handle her emotions. Glen Larson immediately had her in mind when he started casting for the series, but this idea wouldn't have had Anne in the role we remember her by today.
In the beginning, Glen Larson had an idea for a show called Adam's Ark that featured a commander and his son as the two main characters of the show. It wasn't picked up as science fiction was less than popular with the networks. Even the original series of Star Trek had to go through an unprecedented write in campaign to reach a third season. Then came Star Wars. It was such a blockbuster that the network started scrambling to find something similar for television. Suddenly Glen Larson's idea became popular, with ABC picking it up.
Anne Lockhart had worked with Glen Larson in the Hardy Boy's series, and he wanted her from the very beginning, although Anne doesn't remember the exact role. Glen sent her a very early script, and she was disappointed in the material. She says that "the show was about a lot of men and one gal who occasionally came in and said, 'Don't run off without your laser-guns, boys!'" According to Anne "I called up Glen, and I said 'I'm very flattered that you think enough of my talent to offer this to me, but I don't think I'd be happy in this kind of a role, and I really would want to do a good job for you and I'd have to be happy to do a good job'. He said 'Well of course we can always rewrite and beef up the part'. I said 'I understand that, but I have to make a decision based on what you'd sent me'. So I said no!".
More than six months passed before the producer contacted Lockhart again about the possibility of appearing in Battlestar Galactica. Following Jane Seymour's decision to leave the show after its first few episodes, Larson decided to create a new female character to take "Serina's" place and gave Lockhart first refusal on the role. "Glen called me again and said 'I'm writing a new character into the show and I'd like to write it for you, are you interested', and I said yes. He said 'Well, I'll send you what I have so far', and he sent me the first twenty five pages of The Living Legend. I called him back and said 'What time do you want me to start?'"
The decision turned out to be a wise one. "It worked out so much better for me personally, and I also think for the fabric of the show, because 'Sheba' turned out to be such a strong influence and such a pioneering kind of character in her own way... Those days were pretty much the days of 'jiggle' TV; there were a lot of very pretty girls in very short shorts who looked lovely and wiggled a lot. 'Sheba' was different. 'Starbuck', 'Apollo', 'Boomer' and 'Sheba' were all equal as warriors and there was no gender discrimination. That wasn't heavily practiced in those days. She had great strength, and great ability. She had a very good military mind, and she was appreciated and respected because of those abilities as opposed to just because she was female. That was what really appealed to me, and yet there was also a great vulnerability to her, which she tried very hard to mask because there was a wonderful quality in which she felt she needed to live up to the image of her father, 'Commander Cain', and so externally she had a bit of a chip on her shoulder. I played it that way although there was never dialogue to relate to that, that I recall. So she turned out to be a much more rewarding character for me."
"What I appreciated about her was the fact that it often afforded me the opportunity to portray a woman who did have those internal struggles but certainly was accepted and respected because she could do everything. The very first time you see 'Sheba' on screen, she's in her Viper, and she has 'Apollo' and 'Starbuck' locked [as targets], and she's about to blow them out of the sky!"
When Anne started shooting, she wasn't allowed to tell anybody that she had been picked up as a regular on the show because her agent was still negotiating her contract. She thought Lorne Greene knew, because she says "one morning at the makeup table he was in the next chair and I was getting my face fixed and he looked at me and said 'this could turn out to be a good thing for you' and he winked at me. I smiled and I said 'I know'."
For most actresses, a regular being signed in the middle of the season would be difficult. According to Anne, "coming into a show like that, that's already established, they'd been working together for many, many months. They're all close, all their relationships, and you're just the guest star of the week. It's kind of an awkward thing, and you're trying to be part of the gang, but everybody's already closer than you are." Anne didn't have this problem. Anne's father once stayed at the same boarding house in Canada as Lorne Greene when her dad was going to medical school. Galactica's cinematographer was Ben Colman, who had worked on Lassie (featuring her mother June Lockhart) and Anne had known since she was four. But the biggest connection was the actor who played her father in the series: Lloyd Bridges. Lloyd's daughter Cindy and Anne had gone to school together since the first grade, so she had also known Lloyd her whole life. This made things much easier for Anne having all these "daddies" around her.
Anne says that the rest of the crew was wonderful as well. "We were very lucky. There wasn't one bad apple in the bunch, really. Usually you get at least one person you can grouse about. But everybody was just terrific. Lorne really was very fatherly towards all of us; he kind of assumed that role. We were like a family; we giggled, we played, we played jokes on each other, we socialized, we went bowling together... It was really fun. And it was such a joy to be able to have that kind of camaraderie under those conditions."
The working conditions could be brutal at times. "We were working seventeen to eighteen hour days," Anne Lockhart remembers. "There were times when we got rewrites the day after we'd shot stuff! There were scenes where we had to deliver dialogue which had just been handed to us. We glued it to the set! One night I was watching the show, and after it aired they showed the coming attractions, which simply were the dailies which we had shot the day before."
"On The Living Legend we filmed all day long, into the night, and at about midnight or one in the morning they sent home the crew and brought in an entire new crew because there were overtime things that they did not want to have to pay! They brought in an entire new crew to keep on shooting and they kept us! It was nearly daylight and we could barely stand!"
"Finally, I said, 'How much longer is this going to go on? I don't think I can drive home, and I think I only live nine miles away from the studios!'"
"It got to the point where we couldn't talk, we were just cross-eyed. At one point, I can remember having two episodes being filmed simultaneously on separate stages. We went to one stage to shoot our scenes and say our dialogue and then they'd say, 'Okay, they need you over on 38', and you'd go to the other stage, walk in and there is a bunch of actors you've never seen! There were times when it was a little crazy!"
Hard work aside, Anne is extremely proud of her character in that she was the first fully trained fighter combat pilot on network television. She said that people in the service have come up to her and said that they had gone on to the military because of "Sheba".
The funniest moment for her was in the episode War of the Gods. In it, she is taken with "Count Iblis", portrayed by Patrick Macnee. She falls for him as a religious leader. In one scene that Glen says is supposed to represent spirituality, "Iblis" says to "Sheba": "Nothing can harm you as long as I am inside you." It took several takes to film that scene without cracking up laughing. Anne says "he tried, and I tried, and every time he said it to me I'd just [laugh]. I tried. I looked at his ear. I looked over the top of his head. I looked everywhere I could, and every time he said it we would just bust up laughing." Regardless, the line was later cut by the network censors.
She also remembers a practical joke she and Laurette Spang played on Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict during one of the triad scenes. "They put these guys into little, sexy little French bikinis, you know? Very embarrassing for these two poor guys. There was a scene at the end of the show where they go in, they're standing in the doorway ready to go in and play the game. 'Cassiopiea' and I are standing behind our guys, you know, being supportive there, and, just as they walk in, Laurette and I grabbed the back of the boy's little bikini pants and gave them each a wedgy they still remember!" The film clip of this humorous moment is included in the deleted scenes of the DVD set.
Inexplicably, the network decided not to pick up Battlestar Galactica for a second season, despite ratings in the top 20 and generally good reviews. Lockhart found out the news on vacation in Hawaii. "We hadn't officially been given a pick-up, but we went on hiatus thinking we'd be back, because the show was successful," she remembers. "I'd gone for Hawaii just to get some rest for the next season. One of the things about doing that show was that I never saw daylight: I'd get to work when it was dark, and I'd go on the soundstage and [come home in the] dark! I'd never been in the sun. So I went to Hawaii to visit my girlfriend, and I read it in the paper."
Anne talks about the disappointment of the show being canceled. "I'd just begun to explore this woman who was such a good warrior. She was an excellent military character, and she was so her father's daughter. But what she was bad at, which is what I loved about her, was socially and personally. She was very awkward with her personal relationships which was why the "Apollo"/"Sheba" thing worked so well, because we were like oil and water. It was very difficult for her to admit that there was an attraction to him. Her mother had died so she was raised by her father, and she had none of that. She had no education or training in personal stuff, and I loved playing that." She recently found out that had there been a second season, they had scheduled to have been killed off, though she said she would have fought it bitterly.
Although we don't know about the future of "Sheba" in any continuation of Battlestar Galactica, we do know that in 1978 a character began that women have looked up to and draw strength from, and that men have admired and loved. It would be nice to see her again!