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 (1955) and The Loretta Young Show (1953) (aka “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). But, she would forever be remembered for her signature role of “Judy Robinson” in the Lost in Space (1965) 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, Lost in Space: The Sky Pirate (1966), 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 biological 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). 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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