Obituary: Christine White / Shatner's wife in 'Twilight Zone'

May 4, 1926 - April 14, 2013

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Julia Wilson wore pearls and a face of reassurance as she and her husband, Robert, took their seats on an airplane operated by Gold Star Airways half a century ago. Robert Wilson had just been released from a sanitarium. Six months earlier he had suffered a mental breakdown -- on an airplane.

"Honey, you are cured," Julia Wilson told her anxious husband as they fastened their seat belts. "That Dr. Martin wouldn't let you fly if you weren't -- would he?"

The Wilsons believed they were heading home. Viewers that night in 1963 were forewarned of their real destination: "The Twilight Zone."

The episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," based on a short story by Richard Matheson, portrays a man's descent from anxiety into startling, but possibly lifesaving violence. as he takes action to stop a "gremlin" that he -- and only he -- can see on the plane's left wing tampering with an engine in the middle of a stormy flight. The show became a classic -- remade in a movie, honored in song and spoofed on "Saturday Night Live," "3rd Rock From the Sun" and "The Simpsons."

It was dominated by the increasing terror of Robert Wilson, played by William Shatner; the ghoulish camp of the gremlin, played by Nick Cravat, who was not credited; and the increasingly strained composure of Julia Wilson, played by Christine White.

Ms. White died on April 14 at 86 in a nursing home in Washington, D.C., according to a death notice published May 11 in The Carroll County Times in Maryland.

Her role in the 25-minute episode may not have been as prominent as those of Mr. Shatner or Mr. Cravat. But it was central to the episode and perhaps the most memorable part she played in her quarter-century acting career.

Christine Lamson White was born on May 4, 1926, in Washington, D.C. She received a degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947. By the early 1950s, she was in Hollywood, where she appeared in movies and television shows well into the 1970s.


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