The Show “China Beach”, Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This series is about trying to display the other side of the Vietnam War. Instead of directing so much of the attention toward the battles and the soldiers’ stories, this shows the war through the eyes of the nurses, doctors, entertainers, various military personnel and civilians who were such a basic and yet incredibly crucial part of the recovery system. It looks more at the lives and everyday stresses of being stationed in a place where there are so many horrors each day, they are all around you, and the only option you have is to deal with it or die. It takes place at the 510th evacuation hospital and R and R (rest and recreation) facility in De Nang in 1967.
Inspired by a book by former Army nurse Lynda Van Devanter, entitled “Home Before Morning”, China Beach is detailed, honest, and gives us a look at how things really were. It also follows the characters and their experiences upon their return to the United States, both at the end of their service and also when they go home on leave. These characters will touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye.
First Lieutenant Colleen McMurphy (Dana Delany)-McMurphy is a Catholic nurse from Kansas. A woman who treats the patients she cares for with kindness and compassion, and yet also a woman who can be tough and stern when the situation requires it. She does have her own issues to deal with as both time and the war rage on which in turn causes her to develop certain problems and habits.
Sergeant Evan “Dodger” Winslow (Jeff Kober)-Dodger (as he is called for his skill at being able to evade injury) is a soldier and he is fighting in a war that he simply does not understand. He does everything he can to keep the men in his platoon alive and does not encourage a lot of contact. He is a loner and a perfect example of what the horrors of war can do to one’s psyche.
Specialist Samuel Beckett (Michael Boatman)-Beckett is a private with the GRS (Graves Registration Service), and is generally not well liked by the other serviceman due to this.
Karen Charlene “K.C.” Koloski (Marg Helgenberger)-K.C. is a civilian clerk who comes to China Beach to try and make her fortune through the world of part-time prostitution. She is a skeptical woman with a troubled past.
Laurette Barber (Chloe Webb)-Laurette was McMurphy’s roommate and a singer. She is with the USO (United Service Organization) and is intent on making a huge career for herself as a professional singer.
Cherry White (Nan Woods)-Cherry is a Red Cross volunteer at China Beach. Her position (so to speak) is “donut dolly” and she is quite innocent and very trusting. She is there in an effort to search for her brother, Rick, who was listed as “missing in action”.
Captain Dick Richard (Robert Picardo)-Dick is an OB-GYN who has been drafted into the Army and the war and is, like so many, very unhappy about it. He now acts as the womanizing head surgeon, who is upset about being away from his family.
Captain Bartholomew “Natch” Austen (Tim Ryan)-Natch is a jet fighter pilot with the United States Air Force. He is romantically involved with Nurse Colleen McMurphy.
Major Lila Garreau (Concetta Tomei)-Lila is the Army commanding officer of China Beach. She is also a veteran from World War II.
Corporal Boonie Lanier (Brian Wimmer)-Boonie is a lifeguard and manager. He is a friendly guy and is in charge of the Jet Set Club.
Airman Wayloo Marie Holmes (Megan Gallagher)-Holmes is a woman who yearns to be a famous journalist one day. Now, however, she is a reporter with the “Armed Services Network”.
Private Frankie Bunsen (Nancy Giles)-Frankie works in the motor pool at China Beach.
Corporal Jeff Hyers (Ned Vaughn)-Jeff is a combat medic with the United States Army. He is a nice, easygoing kind of guy that gets along well with other people.
Sergeant Bob Pepper (Troy Evans)-Bob is a non-commissioned officer in charge of the motor pool. He is a veteran from World War II, and is a mechanic as well as a driver.
Holly Pelegrino (Ricki Lake)-Holly is a very bright volunteer (a donut dolly) with the Red Cross.
This was a realistic, informative and thoroughly enjoyable show. Despite only being on for four seasons it managed to draw you in quickly and keep you there. If you like watching things about the Vietnam War, this is a must see. I give it 7 out of 10.
Colleen McMurphy-Dana Delany
Samuel Beckett-Michael Boatman
Dick Richards-Robert Picardo
Lila Garreau-Concetta Tomei
K.C. Kolowski-Marg Helgenberger
Boonie Lanier-Brian Wimmer
Dodger Winslow-Jeff Kober
Frankie Bunsen-Nancy Giles
Bob Pepper-Troy Evans
Wayloo Marie Holmes-Megan Gallagher
Recurring Cast Years
Beetle-Michael J. Henderson 1988-1989
Cherry White-Nan Woods 1988-1989
Jeff Hyers-Ned Vaughn 1988-1991
Jody Kass-Marcia Magus 1988-1991
Holly Pelegrino-Ricki Lake 1989-1990
Mai-Elizabeth Lindsey 1988-1989
Natch Austen-Tim Ryan 1988-1989
Gerard Bernard-Derek de Lint 1989-1990
Hang-Haunani Minn 1988-1989
Laurette Barber-Chloe Webb 1988
Trieu Au-Kieu Chinh 1989-1991
Vinnie Ventresca-Tom Sizemore 1989-1990
Sweetness Elroy-Bobby Hosea 1988-1990
Jesus Zappara-Robert LaSardo 1989-1990
Woman-Lee Mary Weilnau 1988-1990
Mac Miller-Wings Hauser 1990-1991
Margaret Mary McMurphy-Penny Fuller 1989-1990
Linda Matlock Lanier-Finn Carter 1990-1991
Karen Lanier-Christine Elise 1990-1991
Dr. Singer-Scott Jaeck 1990
Melvin Otis-Dorian Harewood 1989-1990
Joe Arneburg-Adam Arkin 1991
Nellie-Kerry Noonan 1990
Collen Flaherty Richards-Colleen Flynn 1990-1991
Gloria Dawn-Kathy Molter 1990-1991
Some of the story lines and in some cases even bits of dialogue, were used from true experiences by nurses that served in the Vietnam War.
Dana Delany (Colleen McMurphy) did not get this role after her first audition. She said in an interview that “they thought I wasn’t pretty enough”, so she re-grouped, cut her long hair, and auditioned again. After losing their first choice for the part, the producer’s then cast her in the role.
People Magazine chose Dana Delany as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1991. In 2011 she was number nine on their annual list of “100 Most Beautiful”.
Megan Gallagher is the sister-in-law of actress Catherine Hicks.
Jeff Kober, at one time, was a member of the band “The Walking Wounded”. He also plays the bass guitar.
Michael Boatman (Samuel Beckett) is not only an incredibly talented actor but a novelist and screenwriter as well. He writes in the splatterpunk horror genre, and has had several collections of short stories published as well as a novel. He has also been collecting comic books since he was in the third grade.
Concetta Tomei (Lila Garreau) was a teacher for four years before deciding to become an actress.
Dana Delany was in a film called “Live Nude Girls” with (among other actresses) Kim Cattrall. The movie received a lot of negative reviews, and therefore, when Delany was offered the chance to play single girl Carrie Bradshaw in the popular, “Sex and the City”, she turned it down. The series of course was a huge hit and propelled Sarah Jessica Parker into worldwide fame. She also turned down another very popular role on the series, “Desperate Housewives” as Bree Van De Kamp. She thought it too similar to the role she played on the short-lived series, “Pasadena”. Several years later, producer Marc Cherry offered her another role (Katherine Mayfair), and she happily accepted.
Troy Evans (Sgt. Bob Pepper) who played on China Beach, actually served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. One of the stories that his character tells called “The Dogman” is true. It is based on his actual experience during the war.
While filming China Beach, co-stars Jeff Kober and Dana Delany actually visited Vietnam.
Robert Picardo (Dr. Dick Richard) was on two television shows simultaneously and is one of a very small group of actors to do this. The series’ were China Beach and “The Wonder Years”, where he played Coach Cutlip.
Michael Boatman has been married for more than twenty years and has four children.
Ned Vaughn (Jeff Hyers) was the founding executive vice-president of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), resigning that position only recently, in order to be able to run for California’s 66th State Assembly district as a Republican candidate. Before that he also served as the vice-president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Concetta Tomei is actually not a relation of famous actress Marisa Tomei.
Marg Helgenberger (K.C. Kolowski) ranked on “The Glamour Girls Hot 100 List” in 2004 for approximately ten weeks, even spending one week in the top ten. Helgenberger is the fourth oldest woman to make the top ten lists. Her character (Catherine Willows) on the series, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was number 82 (along with Gil Grissom) on “Bravo’s 100 Greatest TV Characters” list.
Nancy Giles (Frankie Bunsen) is an actress and journalist and also writes for “CBS News Sunday Morning”.
Ricki Lake (Holly Pelegrino) had an incredibly popular daytime talk show entitled, “Ricki Lake”. After eleven years she decided to end the show. In 2012 she started a second talk show called “The Ricki Lake Show”, it was cancelled after only one season.
Brian Wimmer (Boonie Lanier) was working on the hit movie “Footloose”, as a production assistant, when he received a small role in the film and discovered how much he enjoyed acting.
Dana Delany played in the TV movie, “For Hope”. She played Gay, the real life sister of Bob Saget (from Full House fame) who died from the horrible disease, scleroderma. She has served on the board of the “Scleroderma Research Foundation” since the mid 1990’s and continues to raise funds for its research to find a cure.
Megan Gallagher (Wayloo Holmes) has been on the “The Larry Sanders Show” and also performed on Broadway.
Jeff Kober (Dodger Winslow) is not only an actor but also a painter and photographer. He is also the co-author (with Adele Slaughter) of the book, “Art That Pays: The Emerging Artist’s Guide to Making a Living”.
In 2003, Dana Delany decided to have Botox injected into her forehead. Unfortunately, during the procedure, the needle hit one of her nerves and caused a hematoma to form which injured the muscle in her right eye and lead it to droop ever so slightly.
Forbes magazine has listed Marg Helgenberger third, amid primetime’s top earning women right after Tyra Banks and Katherine Heigl. She has made an approximate $9.5 million in earnings.
When Concetta Tomei played a chain-smoking mother from beyond on the series “Providence”, she used herbal cigarettes as she does not smoke in real life.
Ricki Lake did a documentary about homebirth and midwifery called “The Business of Being Born”, which included clips from her own home-birthing experience. She also wrote a book jointly with Abby Epstein and Jacques Moritz on natural childbirth titled, “Your Best Birth”.
Marg Helgenberger’s mother battled breast cancer for twenty-seven years. And due to this fact, she and her former husband, Alan Rosenberg, have hosted a benefit every year since 1999 in Omaha, Nebraska in order to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. It is called “Marg and Alan’s Celebrity Weekend”.
Robert Picardo played the part of a doctor on China Beach, but he almost became a physician in real life as well. When he first entered Yale University, he did it as a pre-med student, later of course he chose to become an actor.
Ricki Lake, who has struggled with being overweight most of her life, says that being sexually molested as a child is the reason for her difficulties with obesity.
Megan Gallagher attended Juilliard and knew that she wanted to act since she was only five years old.
Brian Wimmer was a classmate of George Clooney’s in acting school, and even appeared in an episode of E.R. He is also friends with legendary actor Robert Redford.
Marg Helgenberger’s hometown of North Bend, Nebraska named a street after the famous former resident. It’s called “Helgenberger Avenue”.
Robert Picardo is one of only three “Star Trek” regulars to wear all three of the “Star Trek” uniform colors. The other two are George Takei and Robert Duncan McNeill. He is also the only regular to have written an episode of the famed series.