It's been more than two decades since Erika Eleniak wore the iconic red swimsuit as a cast member on the popular syndicated series "Baywatch." But she continues to get asked about her two seasons on the series.
"It always comes up," says Eleniak, who is sure to get more questions when she appears Sunday at the Fresno Collectors Expo to sign autographs and meet fans. "I think, in my humble opinion, 'Baywatch' is mentioned so much because the series was just this strange phenomenon. People in Hollywood can be snooty, but it got the attention of the rest of the world because of all the eye candy and the California beaches. It all just came together like magic."
Eleniak left "Baywatch" early in the third season because the show's focus changed from a serious look at lifeguards to the sex appeal of those in the red suits. To her, the departure was a win-win: She was able to concentrate on her film career and the series got a huge star with Pamela Anderson.
Eleniak made her film debut at the age of 12 in the Steven Spielberg classic, "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." She is the girl Elliot kisses when chaos breaks out in the classroom.
Eleniak remembers crying before the scene was shot.
"I was only 12 and Henry (Thomas) was only 10 and he was in a girls-haters club," Eleniak says with a light laugh.
Since her "Baywatch" days, Eleniak has appeared in a variety of TV and feature films, including "Charles in Charge," "The Blob," "Under Siege," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Chasers," "Aftershock: Earthquake in New York" and "Dracula 3000."
But, it's the 1992 Steven Seagal action film "Under Siege" that gets remembered.
Life in front of the camera is no longer the biggest thing in Eleniak's life. She is a mom and is taking classes to become more qualified to counsel and help others. The actress wants to share her deep spiritual feelings, which includes writing a children's book that will be released in March.
"My book, 'What Do You Do, If You Lose Your Lalabaloo?' is about the inner light that all children have," Eleniak says.
Joining her Sunday at the one-day comic book/sports/pop culture event will be Playboy centerfolds Val Keil, Cathy St. George, Ava Fabian and Fresno State's Carly Lauren.
Fresno Collectors Expo, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, at University Square Hotel, 4961 N. Cedar Admission: $3. Details: (559) 224-4200, www.fresnocollectors expo.com
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.