Wende Wagner (sometimes credited as Wendy Wagner) was a gorgeous actress who never reached the stardom to which she seemed destined. This was mostly owing to her free-spirited nature, which made her a poor fit to the careerist demands of movie and television success.
She was a natural athlete, her Naval officer father a former Olympic coach and her mother an ex-skier. She came by her dark, exotic looks naturally, a product of her mixed German, French, and Native American ancestry. Wagner got her start as a model in her late teens, and she made her screen acting debut at age 19 in an episode of Wagon Train. She might well have parlayed that appearance into more acting work, but Wagner was much more interested in seeing exotic locations and in athletics, especially swimming. Her next steady entertainment work was as a stunt double in the underwater sequences on the series Sea Hunt. That job put her in contact with underwater filming expert Ricou Browning and producer Ivan Tors, who later used Wagner in the series The Aquanauts, and also on the film September Storm, where she met her future husband, fellow stunt diver Courtney Brown. When Tors and Browning were working on the series Flipper in the mid-'60s, Wagner finally got a credited acting role -- and a co-starring one at that -- in one episode, entitled "Flipper's Monster," in which she showed her considerable onscreen charm for the first time, playing (surprise) an actress/diver making an underwater adventure film. Wagner did straight acting roles in the movies Rio Conchos (1964), in which she portrayed a Native American girl, and she later brought her acting and swimming abilities together in the movies Out of Sight and Destination Inner Space (both from 1966). That same year, she was cast in a co-starring role in the 20th Century Fox television series The Green Hornet as Lenore "Casey" Case, the secretary to the hero, Britt Reid (Van Williams), and one of three people who knows his secret identity. The series lasted only one season. Wagner's biggest film role came in 1968 in Rosemary's Baby, playing Tiger, the girlfriend of Rosemary (Mia Farrow). She had a role in Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969), but the rest of her work was in television, through the early '70s. Wagner left the business in 1973 to raise a family. She passed away in 1997 from cancer. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi