Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Retro Gals: Charisma Carpenter, Tangi Miller, Amy Locane

There are a lot of actresses who stand out in supporting roles on television, yet fade away from the spotlight once the series is over.  Here are three TV actresses from the 1990s that I encountered recently on cable.

Charisma Carpenter in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Charisma Carpenter, who most geeks remember from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the spinoff Angel in her role as Cordelia Chase.  Charisma was red-hot during the Whedon years (1998-2003) and her character in the Buffyverse often stole the show with the best lines.  A few Cordelia zingers that really get me laughing...
Look, Buffy, you may be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I'm the Slayer. 

Whatever. They were cranky. So they're like, "Let's lose some heads." Uh! That's fair. And Marie-Antoinette cared about them. She was gonna let them have cake!

You're a sheep. All you ever do is what everyone else does just so you can say you did it first. And here I am, scrambling for your approval, when I'm way cooler than you are 'cause I'm not a sheep. I do what I wanna do, and I wear what I wanna wear. And you know what? I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is.

Of course, it didn't hurt Charisma's appeal that she was the hottest girl on Buffy and fell in love with the archetypical nerd, Xander.  When Cordelia migrated over to the Angel spinoff, I didn't think her character worked quite as well without the other women to counter her personality.   The writers kept trying to setup a romance with Cordelia and Angel, but that always seemed forced to me.  She might have had more fireworks with Wesley, the failed Watcher who was her complete opposite.  Throughout her Whedonverse career, you would have to think that Charisma was destined for rom-com superstardom.

Charisma Carpenter in Legend of the Seeker

At the same time she was on Buffy and Angel, Charisma was also in a variety of magazine spreads: FHM, Maxim, Fit, Edge, etc.  This culminated in her ultimate exposure in the June 2004 issue of Playboy magazine, where the headline read Naked Charisma.  If you were a fan, then you no doubt bought the magazine.  It was a great photo shoot, but in a way I think this killed the momentum in Charisma's career.  Instead of moving onto to another series, she made guest appearances on various shows (Charmed, Veronica Mars) and headlined some cheesy TV movies like Cheaters Club.  I do have to admit my Charisma-antennae pops up and I'll even watch her in a crappy show like Legend of the Seeker (fast forwarding the DVR to her appearance).  Charisma was on Supernatural recently with James Marsters (which I missed, darn it) and is back on the ABC Family show The Lying Game starting January 2nd.  Collider recently did an interview with Charisma about the show and what else she has been up to.  Carpenter Central is another good source.

Tangi Miller from Felicity

Tangi Miller, from the 1998 JJ Abrams show Felicity.  Felicity was a show that I’m not embarrassed to say that I watched from start to finish.  It was an early indicator that JJ Abrams was a very good TV show creator and producer.  I got all caught up in Felicity’s early college life and it was a show I could watch with my wife.  Tangi Miller played Elena Tyler, Felicity’s lab partner who eventually becomes a close friend.  Miller played Elena with a quiet grace and attractive beauty, but I remember having some trouble with her character arc.  In the first season, she has an affair with a Professor (played by Chris Sarandon), where I expected major repercussions to fallout in later episodes.  But somehow the entire affair was forgotten!  I was certain the Tangi Miller would make it big after Felicity in another TV show, or at least to the level of someone like Gabrielle Union, but it hasn’t come to pass.  Miller has made several guest appearances, including a supporting role in Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Family Reunion.

Amy Locane from Melrose Place

Amy Locane, from the very first Melrose Place season 1.  She only lasted 13 episodes on that show.  Although what triggered my memory of Amy wasn’t MP but a 1997 movie called Prefontaine.  I’ve seen this movie about 5 times, each time I watch it, it makes me want to go for a run—or at least a brisk walk.  The movie is a biopic about Steve Prefontaine, a long distance runner who went to the University of Oregon and trained under coach Bill Bowerman, hilariously played by R. Lee Emery (from Full Metal Jacket).  Amy Locane played Nancy Allerman in this flick, a very natural and sweet performance. 

I wondered what happened to Amy after 1997—she had the looks, talent, and on screen charisma.  But amazingly, she never appeared as a regular in another TV series.  Her most notable role was in the 2002 film Secretary starring James Spader.  Sadly, Locane has recently been in the news about her involvement last year in a fatal car crash; she’s currently out on bail.

In case you were curious about Amy Locane’s short lived arc on Melrose Place, including her short lived romance with Grant Show (Jake), here is a video that sums it all up in 7 minutes!  Nuff Said!


  1. I enjoyed ANGEL much more than BUFFY and a lot of that was because of Charisma. I think the move definitely make her less bitchy and less selfish.


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