Meeting Debrah Farentino

My favorite television show is Earth 2, and over the years I've been fortunate enough to meet many people who worked on the show, both in front of and behind the camera. But one actress I'll never meet in this lifetime is J. Madison Wright, or Maddie, as everyone called her. Ten years old during her time on Earth 2, Maddie played the role of True Danziger. When Maddie was 15, she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and soon received a heart transplant, which gave her another six years of life. She passed away at 21 from a heart attack.

In 1999, an auction was organized to help pay the Wright family's staggering medical bills. Earth 2 cast and crew donated memorabilia from the show, and I purchased several of these items.

Universal Studios had commissioned three wall hangings for their offices while Earth 2 was in production, each of a different character: Devon Adair, played by Debrah Farentino; John Danziger, played by Clancy Brown; and Alonzo Solace, played by Antonio Sabato, Jr. To my knowledge, each item is unique.

Producer Michael Duggan donated the wall hanging of Devon Adair to the auction, and since Devon is my favorite character, I purchased this. It's basically a large poster of Devon's face mounted on thick but very light material, perhaps balsa wood. The wall hanging is not in perfect condition, having received a few scratches over the years, but it's in reasonably good shape.

I've long wanted to meet Debrah Farentino, but never had the opportunity. Then I learned that she would be attending the 2012 Phoenix Comicon along with the rest of the cast of her current show, Eureka. Having waited almost 20 years and not knowing if or when I would ever get another chance to meet her, I boxed up my wall hanging and hopped a plane to Phoenix.

First, I got my picture taken with Debrah at the photo op session. Click to see the larger version.


Debrah is, in fact, the one on the left.


Then I visited Debrah at her autograph table. We spoke for about ten minutes, and I told her how much I adore Earth 2 and how big a fan I am. She signed a number of autographs for me, including my Earth 2 DVD box, but the big one was the wall hanging, which I had lugged from Dallas just for this moment. I had suspected that she might get a little choked up when I told her I had bought it in an auction to benefit Maddie, but I had no idea that I would, too. I thought I was prepared for that, but I was mistaken. I asked Debrah's assistant to film us, and she did. There are two videos because she stopped the camera at one point mistakenly thinking we were finished.

You may glimpse a green blanket lying on the table. This is the "Eden Advance" blanket which Ona Sostakas made many years ago. I used it to cover the wall hanging in order to protect it while carrying it through the crowd.

I wanted Debrah's autograph to be personalized somehow. But because this is such a special item, I didn't want any one fan's name on it, even my own, because I felt that would just ruin it. So I asked her to sign it to all Earth 2 fans.


A screen capture from the second video. Click to see the larger version.
The finished article, hanging on my wall, back safe and sound.
Click to see the larger version.


My thanks to the Phoenix Comicon; to the lovely Debrah Farentino; to Debrah's assistant, who was very patient with me; and to the staff at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix for bending over backwards to help someone who wasn't even staying. It was a wonderful, wonderful day.

Light and life.

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