SHEENA (2000-2002 TV series)
Page 2: The Star


Gena Lee Nolin was born in Duluth, Minnesota on 29 Nov 1971. Like Irish McCalla, she grew up on a farm and was an athletic child (see Irish McCalla - Childhood page).  She participated in skating, basketball, volleyball and softball.  Wikipedia says that she dropped out of school at the age of 17 and ran away to escape an abusive father, but this appears to be erroneous. Other sources say her parents divorced during her senior year of high school and she and her mother moved to Las Vegas. She worked as a wairess in Vegas and femily and friends suggested that she enter the Miss Las Vegas beauty contest, which she won..  

This achievement won her the attention of several modelling agencies, and she moved to LA.  She won the Ford Agency and Elite Agency regional "Look of the Year" contests and the Miss Barbizon USA national title.  She appeared in television commercials for Home Depot, Starburst and Hyundai.  She also studied interior design at the Santa Monica College.

In Mar 91 she married her first husband, David Feiler, but they broke up after only one month.  She was later forced to take out a restraining order against him when he began stalking her.  In 1993 she was the first runner-up in the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest.  In November 1993, she married her second husband, businessman Greg Fahlman, who she met at a convention where he was handing out flyers.   Later that year she had breast implants to enhance her appearance.  Her first screen appearance, uncredited, was in the Adam Sandler/Brendan Fraser comedy Airheads (1994)

In 1994 she answered an ad in the paper and beat 1,200 other women to become a model on the popular TV game show, The Price is Right.  From 1994 to 1996 she was one of Barker's Beauties, named after emcee Bob Barker.  Soon after she appeared on the daytime soap, The Young and the Restless, as a model.  In 1995 Baywatch, and later Sheena, producer Douglas Schwartz spotted her on The Price is Right and offered her the the role she is most famous for - the part of superbitch Neely Capshaw in Baywatch (1989-2001), opposite Pamela Anderson. She stayed with the show from 1995 to 1998.

In June 1997, she and Fahlman, had a son, Spencer.  In mid-1999 she began working on Sheena, which kept her busy for several years.  In October 2003 she starred in five episodes of Hollywood Squares. She divorced Greg Fahlman in early 2004 and later that year she began dating NHL hockey player, Cale Hulse, a defender with the Calgary Flames.  She and Hulse were married in Sep 2004 and they had a son together, Hudson, who was born in April 2006 (photo right).

Gena Lee Nolin is 5 feet 9 inches tall and her figure, prior to breast implants, was 34A-24-34.  After her 1993 breast enhancement surgery her figure was 35C-24.34.  Ms Nolin is also a dedicated animal rights activist, appearing on a poster for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).  I share her cause so have featured that poster at the bottom of this page (jump to bottom).  In 2004 she achieved some notoriety when an explicit homemade celebrity sex tape of her and Greg Fahlman began circulating on The Internet and adult DVD market (IMDb & Wikipedia).  She also assisted the promotion of Sheena by appearing nude in the December 2001 edition of Playboy magazine.

Gena Lee Nolin left the Baywatch series to spend more time with her husband, Greg Fahlman, and their son Spencer.  The couple withdrew to Scottsdale, Arizona to attempt to establish a normal life to raise their son.  According to an article in TV Zone magazine, Douglas Schwartz, one of the Columbia Pictures TV producers responsible for launching the new Sheena series, called her at her Arizona home to offer her the part of Sheena.  Schwartz had worked with Ms Nolin for three seasons on Baywatch.  He told her that hundreds of women had read for the role but she was the only one he could think of for the part.  "You're perfect!" he told her.  She was initially reluctant to accept because she wasn't sure that she wanted to give up the quiet life she had constructed for her son.  She discussed it with her husband, Greg, and thought about it long and hard.  Eventually, she called Douglas Schwartz and told him she would do it.  She had to audition for Columbia Tri-Star to prove herself and she went in and met with the executives, and was given the part.  As mentioned on Page 1: The Concept, Steven L Sears, Douglas Schwartz's partner, explains on his website that a test reel was done at Vasquez Rocks in Southern California after Nolin was signed, but before her costar, John Allen Nelson, was under contract (click HERE to see three rare photos of the Sheena test reel from Steven Sears' site).

Nolin had never seen any of the original black-and-white episodes of Sheena Queen of the Jungle, with Irish McCalla.  However, she was aware that it was that fondly-remembered program that gave the character so much lasting appeal, so she contacted Irish.  "She was such a strong character,' Nolin says.  "I spoke to Irish McCalla, the original Sheena, and it was absolutely inspiring.  She's such a strong woman.  That enticed me.  We need more people like her out there.  Irish gave me all of her journals - what it was like working back in 1952 - and it was very interesting.  She's very inspiring.  She was very sick with brain cancer, but I did have an opportunity to share some great things with her." (Starlog) (see also Irish McCalla - Final Years pages) (Comment: Irish McCalla filmed the Sheena series in Mexico in late 1955 and early 1956, not 1952)

When news first came out in the late-Nineties that a new Sheena television series was in the pipeline and publicity photos were circulating I laughed when one writer said that Sheena's costume resembled a nurse's uniform, because it did.  Frank Bonilla, my collaborator on this site (and the world's Number 1 hard-core Irish McCalla fan) thinks it looks like a potato sack.  The fact of the matter is that there are two costumes to consider here, because Sheena was given a sexier two-piece outfit from Episode 6 onwards.

In my discussion of Tanya Roberts' Sheena costume (see Sheena [1984] - Page 3: The Star page) I pointed out that leopard skin was probably avoided for several reasons.  I suspect that the main reason was that the producers where striving for something fresh - a "new look".  I also feel that at the time leopard skin was seen as just plain tacky and chichi.  Another important reason is the concerns of the antifur movement.  I suspect that all of these reasons may also have been considerations in the design of the Gena Lee Nolin costumes.

Gena Lee Nolin's Sheena costume at the begining of the the first series (left) does bear some resemblance to the Irish McCalla Sheena costume, in that it is a short, full-bodied tunic.  It was only used for the first five episodes.  It is made from a beige chamois material and it is trimmed with some woven, black leather strips.  Two of these black woven strips encircle the waist to make a double belt.  From the centre of the belt three narrower woven black cords extend up over her right shoulder.  Two of these are parallel and the one on the far left branches off to the left side of the cleavage and then all three go over her right shoulder and join to the back of the bodice. One of these black cords also hang from her belt in loops.  The whole thing has a bit of a patchwork effect and the pieces are joined by a pale thin cord.  Short bits of knotted cord hang from the fabric joins on the left breast.  Sheena has a small animal skin pouch hanging from the back of her belt, and this resembles leopard skin.  She wears no jewelry at all.  The sex appeal of the costume comes from high splits in the skirt on both thighs and a plunging cleavage line.  Ms Nolin is obviously wearing some expensive foundation garments under the outfit.  On her feet she wears large, clumsy-looking boots that are best described as mukluks and around these are wrapped strips of black material.  She keeps a large gold-bladed knife in her right boot.  The end credits say that Linda Stokes LSO Designs was responsible for the Sheena costumes.

The costume described above was jettisoned after only half a dozen episodes, possibly becaseu of negative feedback from fans.  The replacement costume was a vast improvement on the first, as should be obvious from a comparison of those two photos.  It was initially reasonably elegant but acquired a much more ragged appearance, possibly in an attempt to make Sheena appear a little wilder.  It has also been changed to a two piece outfit consisting of a short skirt and small bodice top, both heavily fringed with ragged adornments.  Like the first costume, it is put together in a patchwork arrangement, stitched together with thin cord, although this time there is some variation in the colouration of the pieces.  It is mostly comprised of the same beige chamois material as the first season costume, but there are irregular patches of near white material on her left hip, hanging from the bottom of the left side of her small top, and highlighting her right breast.  The woven black leather cords have been replaced by interwoven brown, two-tone leather cords that are slightly thicker and heavier than the earlier version.  One of these are attached to the top of each side of the bustier, although instead of going over each shoulder like brassiere straps, go across her right shoulder.  One of these interwoven brown leather cords also hangs from her waist, forming a large curving loop from one hip to the next.  There are also long cords hanging from the back of the top, that dangle down to the back of her knees.  The mukluk boots are still present, although now the leather strips that wrap around her calves are mostly brown instead of black.  Overall, the thing has an earthier, more primitive, appearance.  As before, there is no jewelry.  The cleavage has been maintained, but this time there is only a high split on the right hip, and a smaller split on the left.  The new costume was again designed by Beverly Nelson Safier, but fabricated by Linda Stokes LSO Designs.
In an interview with Femme Fatales magazine Nolin was asked how the sexiness that punctuates the action and comedy elements are brought out in the show.  "It's bought out in my cleavage." she joked.

So there you have it.  The second Sheena television series has transformed the blonde jungle goddess into a contemporary woman in a slightly frumpy ensemble.  I can sympathise with Douglas Schwartz's desperation in trying to find an actress with the sufficient dramatic ability and chutzpah to be able to carry off the role.  There is no doubting that Gena Lee Nolin is a better actress than both Irish McCalla and Tanya Roberts, but is she a better Sheena?  It would be nigh impossible to find an actress that fit the requirements to play Sheena better than Irish McCalla, and her series has achieved legendary status, despite hokey production values and wooden acting.  Tanya Roberts was more appealing on the eye than Ms Nolin, and had a much sexier outfit, but her sex appeal vapourised ever time she opened her mouth.  I sometimes find myself squirming a bit while I am watching this new Sheena, and it isn't only because of the sassy, come-and-get-me, Valley Girl dialogue.   I guess the problem for me is that her body, face and general manner don't really fit the character.  She walks as if she is on the catwalk, even when challenging nefarious dudes.  In the Femme  Fatales interview she confessed that she didn't exercise regularly and it shows ("I don't have time to exercise (but) I'm very active on the set.").  As a result her upper arms are soft and undeveloped and she was unable to avoid weight gain between the first and second series.  Her lovely face won her many beauty competitions, but the turned up top lip, slight overbite and prominent jaw make it the cutesy face of a pampered game show model.  It is not the strong, noble face of a jungle queen!

Click on the image below to read plot summaries and to see video captures for each episode of this series:

• The very poorly-written Gena Lee Nolin article on Wikipedia

• The Gena Lee Nolin filmography and brief biography at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
TV Zone magazine No. 80, Jul 2001
Starlog magazine, Jun 2001
Femme Fatales magazine, May/Jun 2001

• The Sheena poster is from Maxim magazine, November 2000
• The APR 2006 photo of Gena Lee Nolin, Cale Hulse, and their son, Hudson, was pilfered from an AOL website
• The photo of Gena Lee Nolin wearing the first season Sheena costume is from Starlog magazine, Jun 2001
• The photo of Gena Lee Nolin wearing the second season Sheena costume is from Stuff magazine, Feb 2001
• Visit a gallery of Gena Lee Nolin glamour photos at
• See many photos of Gena Lee Nolin and her stunt doubles in Columbia Pictures TV Producer Steven L Sears' Sheena pages; the extensive production photos are very good


SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2006 Paul Wickham