The Egolf Chronicles:

A Woman Who Makes You Wonder

I suppose this would have been better done 2 weeks ago, but oh well....

Hi, all. You're likely here due to the rumor that little-known actress Gretchen Egolf would be playing Wonder Woman. Well, don't count on it.

I suppose you're wondering what possible credentials I have to make such a statement. My answer: I have none. Nothing. Nada. Except.... I am a Gretchen Egolf fan. A fairly big fan. This section of my website, which started rather modestly as a sidebar to my larger Martial Law exploits, is by far the biggest, oldest, and most comprehensive web source of information on Gretchen. (I also try to confirm and validate everything I say, too - I got burned once or twice due to making assumptions that later proved false.)

I'd like to offer a bit of backstory for both my past and Gretchen's. If you wish to skip to the Wonder Woman comments, feel free.

(Spoilers for damn near every show mentioned. You've been warned.)

First, my past, at least as far as this page goes: Gretchen played Amy Dylan on the second (and final) season of Martial Law. At first I disliked her (both for her character and her general look) but then something happened. I still have no idea what, but I fell absolutely head over heels for her. After a brief frenzy of being a really rabid fanboy (I still regret some of the stuff I said in kind of public places - nothing like being a newbie all over again, huh?), and a rather shocking moment where I realized I was setting myself up for an unlikely but still very possible endorphin addiction, I've calmed down. I've developed a rather wry (in my own self-aggrandizing opinion) and self-deprecating sense of humor about things. I'm also not afraid to harshly criticize Gretchen should her acting seem rather poor. (Which it sometimes is - some of her Martial Law work and the last five minutes on camera for Roswell still make me wince.)

But on to Gretchen herself. (There could be a few slight errors in here, but I doubt it. Still, caveat lector.) She was born in 1972, give or take a year, possibly over in Europe. She was the second child born to her artist mother and writer father. You may have heard of her older brother, Tristan Egolf, who's received some acclaim as the author of the novel Lord of the Barnyard.

Sometime after this - though, as some of Tristan's comments lead me to believe, not all that long - Gretchen's parents divorced. Her mother, Paula, met and married a bicycle explorer named Gary Egolf. The new family moved back to the US, keeping within the general area between Indiana and the District of Columbia. Eventually they settled in Lancaster County, a rural part of the state of Pennsylvania. Here Gretchen did a good slice of her growing up. After finishing high school, she left for New York City and the Juilliard School.

(Meanwhile, Tristan went off to college, regretted it, left to travel the world, writing whenever he wasn't scraping up money to live. A chance encounter with the daughter of a French author led to his Lord of the Barnyard being published in Europe and riding a wave of fascination with "Angry Young American" novels back to US shores. His second book, Skirt and the Fiddle is soon to be released.)

Gretchen attended Juilliard, appeared in a few modest roles in plays, appeared in a few even more modest roles in films. (Early in Quiz Show, she's the party guest who tells professor Van Doren that his teaching changed her life.) She received some acclaim for a few stage performances, including two Broadway roles: several supporting characters in the political satire Jackie: An American Life and Isabelle, the ballerina in the revival of Ring Round the Moon.

(Jackie later went - taking Gretchen with it - over to London's West End, seemingly riding the same fascination for particularly American quirkiness that helped Tristan along.)

As life-changing events go, one big one came along for Gretchen: July 24, 1999, she married English(?)-born and Welsh-educated stage actor Mason Phillips. Turn on the rerun of Lexx episode "Lyekka vs. Japan" and you'll see him playing Wyatt the conman monk.

Gretchen spent time as assorted leading ladies in plays and minor characters on TV/film before being hired to play Amy Dylan in the Lee Goldberg/William Rabkin revamp of Carlton Cuse's Hong-Kong-fight-film style cop show Martial Law. This was definitely her biggest TV role up to this point, but the Usenet of the day was clearly less than welcoming. Be it because of her acting, her look, her character, or the fact that she was symbolic of the changes between season one and two, a number of Usenutters (ahem) pilloried the net-using Goldberg and Rabkin, both for their writing and their casting. (Took 'em guts to keep showing up on the Internet during that mess. Even if you don't like their writing or casting you have to admire their follow-through.)

To the Wonder Woman fans: Martial Law is almost the only time I've seen her wear her hair shorter than shoulder length. (It's also a good shade lighter than her normal color, which seems to be dark brown.)

But anyway.... Season two was Martial Law's last. The stars went their own ways, Gretchen's hair turning even lighter for her three (four if you count the funeral) episode stint as Congresswoman Vanessa Whitaker on Roswell. (WB nepotism? Ha! If they named Shiri Appleby as Wonder Woman, THEN I might entertain that notion.) As a side note, if you don't count Whitaker's last "Your name was Vilandra" speech, Roswell has some of Gretchen's best TV acting.)

This was followed by one of the bigger streaks of unluck I've seen of late. She starred as Laura Miller in an independent film, Nicolas, which has yet to find a distribution channel. Last year she was slated for the title role in NBC's ill-fated Sex and the City remix Leap of Faith, but the gods of executive decision removed her after the unaired pilot and put Sarah Paulson in as Faith Wardwell. This year she was going to play Shelby Corsair, daughter of a media magnate (and mini-magnate in her own right) in ABC's soap The Corsairs/Rosebud/Whatever Larry Gelbart called it that week, but that series wasn't picked up.

What's she doing currently? Not much, that I know of. Though my gut instinct and often-wrong precognitive skills make me think she's going to show up in a month in a play somewhere on the West Coast, before appearing in one of pilots for 2003-2004 season. Now, though, onto the rumor on the table....

Why do I think this is a false rumor? Well, the original "news release" (as near as I can find in the morass of self-cannibalizing rumor sites) stated, rather matter of factly, that it was down to Lucy Lawless or Gretchen Egolf. There is no other proof of this and, to be honest, I can't see any company choosing a relative non-entity over a genuine Name.

One site that picked up on this points out an error with the logic in that Lawless (My own pick for best WW candidate of all the options bandied about - hey, she's got experience in the hero game!) supposedly doesn't want the role and therefore would not be considered "in the running".

As for my own thoughts? No, I can't see it. Just the thought of Gretchen in the Amazonian armor makes me giggle. It takes a hell of a presence to get into that suit and not look dumb. Lynda Carter, IMHO has just that kind of presence. Gretchen Egolf does not.

Can Gretchen act? Hell, yeah. Give her a good script for something and I'd bet you'll get a good performance. (Give her a weak one and watch me run and hide....) But it takes more than just any actor to play something so ingrained into pop culture as Wonder Woman. Amy Dylan, Vanessa Whitaker, Isabelle the ballerina, Laura Miller, and even the ill-fated Faith Wardwell and Shelby Corsair were not known quantities. They were all inventions for that time, for that reality, for that moment. They did not have histories with people. That makes a world of difference.

So where did the rumor come from? No idea. I could make guesses and elaborate theories - like that someone in some studio heard her name amongst a dozen others and only recognized hers - doesn't really add anything more than a theory on a rumor. Might as well ask how many angels can dance on the lip of a Klein bottle.

Season One, Part One | Season One, Part Two | Midseries Metamorphosis | Season Two, Part One | Season Two, Part Two
The Index | The Annotated Index | The Progenitor Rant | The Original Page
Chronicles, Litanies, and Fanboy Obsessions: (Recent Updates)
The Egolf Chronicles: Current | May 2001 - February 2002 | February 2002 - July 2002
Image Magic | New Image Magic | ImaG.E. Listings
Len's Lack-of-Sleep Litanies | The (Previous) Litanies

Run along home.

This site and everything on it are Copyright (C) The Archon 1999 - 2005, unless otherwise noted. So there.
Oh, and if you use this stuff without my permission (except for the stuff I've taken from others without their permission...), I'll hurt you.
You're visitor number:
Current URL:
Main URL:
Tripod URL:
Backup URLs: