This M*A*S*H guest star was the original Daphne Blake
Stefanianna Christopherson was just as obsessed with the color purple.
In the first season of MAS*H, an early episode dedicated to finding love for Radar called “Love Story” featured a number of pretty lieutenants who turn down a date with the corporal.
Among these mismatches for Radar is an auburn-haired actor whom many TV fans might not recognize, but who cartoon fans remember as the original voice of Daphne from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Stefanianna Christopherson is an actor with Icelandic heritage whose deep dimples and porcelain skin helped her become an up-and-coming theater star by the age of 20.
She had no idea at that time how a pup named Scooby-Doo would soon change her life.
All she knew was that she’d wanted to sing and dance since she was 4 years old, and as an adult, all she wanted in her life was to be good enough to keep performing.
“My life will never be so secure that I can count on a $45,000 home at 45 … or a family,” Christopherson told The San Francisco Examiner in 1967. “But the important thing for me is to be the best creative artist possible.”
The next year, Christopherson made her first TV appearance in Mayberry R.F.D.
In 1968, unbeknownst to Christopherson, CBS was looking to overhaul their cartoon line-up after parents protested what they saw as extreme violence in many popular cartoon shows.
CBS executive Fred Silverman started pushing animators to create more kid-friendly fare that would appease the parent watch groups, and The Archie Show became the first cartoon hit of this flavor.
Silverman suggested animators create a show like The Archie Show, where a band of teenagers would solve mysteries between gigs, and eventually that premise morphed into Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
For the teen characters in Scooby-Doo, animators drew inspiration from the cast of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, with Fred inspired by Dobie Gillis, Shaggy by Maynard G. Krebs and Daphne by Thalia Menninger.
But Stefanianna did more with Daphne Blake than simply channel Tuesday Wells’ charm.
She injected a bit of herself into the character, and in her 1967 interview, she even revealed how deeply she loved the particular shade of Daphne’s signature outfit.
Christopherson declared that if she had “to think, taste, feel one color, it would be purple, intense purple.”
Since she was in the sixth grade, Christopherson had been sewing her own clothes, creating new looks based on her mood that helped her stand out during auditions.
“They’ve always been avant garde,” Christopherson said of her clothing designs.
After providing the original voice for Daphne Blake, Christopherson left Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1970.
That’s when Christopherson got married and moved to New York to live with her new husband.
Apart from Daphne, her most memorable performance might’ve been singing the AT&T jingle Reach Out and Touch Someone – for which she won a CLIO award.
Through the Seventies, she continued acting in movies and TV, including her MAS*H appearance in 1973. She also closed out the decade doing more voice acting in Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.
During this time, she tried out different stage names, switching from Stefanianna Christopherson to Indira Danks and Indira Stefanianna.
The name changes came later in her career, but due to how long her name was, she was frequently advised to shorten it.
It’s unclear whether her unusual name kept her from becoming a bigger star like some people predicted, but Christopherson stepped away from the spotlight after 1980, only re-emerging to act in a few short films in the mid-2000s.
When she was cast in her first movie, producers suggested she shorten her name by taking her mother’s maiden name. To that suggestion, Christopherson could only laugh, though.
“Mother’s name was Hranliqur Snorradottir!” she told The Evening Herald in 1970.