Susan Oliver; Actress, Accomplished Pilot


Susan Oliver, an actress, writer, director and a pilot who won the Powder Puff Derby airplane race for women, has died. She was 58.

Miss Oliver died Thursday of cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

Born Charlotte Gercke in New York City, the blonde actress began her career on Broadway, appearing in “Small War on Murray Hill” and “Look Back in Anger.”


Her film debut was in “The Green Eyed Blonde” in 1957. Other movies included “Butterfield Eight,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “The Disorderly Orderly,” and “The Gene Krupa Story.”

On television, her longest-running role was that of Ann Howard in the popular soap opera “Peyton Place.” She also had key roles in the pilots for “Star Trek” and “The Fugitive,” and guest-starred in episodes of series such as “Murder She Wrote,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Love Boat,” “Medical Center,” “Simon & Simon” and “Bonanza.”

Miss Oliver moved into writing and directing in the 1970s when she attended the American Film Institute’s Woman’s Workshop Program. Among her directing credits were episodes of “M*A*S*H” and “Trapper John M.D.”

In 1970, Miss Oliver won the Powder Puff Derby. She was named pilot of the year by the Assn. of Executive Pilots.

She described her attempts to be the first woman to fly a single-engine plane from New York to Moscow in the book “Odyssey,” published in 1983.

Miss Oliver attended Tokyo International College and Swarthmore College and graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre.

She is survived by three half-brothers, George, James and Carl, and an aunt and uncle.

A memorial service will be scheduled at the American Film Institute in Hollywood.