Melinda Culea was born in a suburb of Chicago on May 5, 1955. At the age of 20, she moved to New York to join a prestigious modeling agency; her first marriage broke up in the process. After four years in New York, she moved to California to break into the TV industry. After doing a number of commercials, including a successful Burger King campaign, she landed a starring role in the sitcom pilot Dear Teacher (1981). Though that pilot didn’t sell, she soon got what seemed like her big break when she won the role of Amy Allen, the female lead in The A-Team (1983). Though the pilot episode presented Amy as a spunky, Howard Hawksian heroine, in subsequent episodes, the role became little more than that of a token female, tagging along with the heroes but rarely having much to do with the plot. At the time, Culea expressed dissatisfaction with the insignificance of her part, and began lobbying for the writers to give her more to do. Reportedly, she asked that her character be allowed to participate in fight scenes. During the second season, producer John Ashley allegedly told Culea’s agent, “tell Melinda to shape up or she’s out”. A few weeks later, Culea discovered that she had been dropped from the show when she received a script with no lines for her character. Why she was fired has never been completely clear; reports at the time focused on the fact that she didn’t seem to get along with star George Peppard, who reportedly felt that the show should not have a female co-star. Marla Heasley, who briefly replaced Culea, was told that Culea had been considered too “tomboyish” by the producers.
After a role on the short-lived Aaron Spelling series Glitter (1984), Culea re-emerged in 1986 with a series of high-profile guest roles on Family Ties (1982) and St. Elsewhere (1982). She then took a hiatus from acting, returning in 1988 with a regular role on Knots Landing (1979). Since then, Culea has worked steadily as a dependable and versatile TV performer, most notably in a guest-starring role in the famous Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) episode Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Outcast (1992). Since 1995, she has been married to television and film director Peter Markle.
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