Long past her halcyon days in the 1970s as a frequent co-star, and sometime girlfriend, of Robby Benson, Glynnis O'Connor rarely receives her due as one of the most talented and lovely young actresses of the 1970s and early 1980s. With a variety of leading men, most notably Benson, O'Connor seemed to corner the market on tragic or melancholy teenage romances,which were invariably improved upon just by her presence.
With Benson, she appeared in the bittersweet Jeremy and Ode to Billy Joe, a massively successful tearjerker in its day. She went on to star as the object of John Travolta's affections in the widely-seen 1976 telefilm The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and headlined Baby Blue Marine with Jan-Michael Vincent. She then appeared in two underrated coming-of age dramas: California Dreaming with Dennis Christopher and Seymour Cassel and Those Lips, Those Eyes opposite Frank Langella and Tom Hulce.
Along the way, she starred in Amy Heckerling's celebrated short film Getting It Over With, about an 18 year-old determined to lose her virginity. It was this film that led to Heckerling's opportunity to direct Fast Times at Ridgemont High several years later. One of O'Connor's last feature film appearances would be in Heckerling's ill-fated Fast Times follow-up, Johnny Dangerously.
In 1982, O'Connor made perhaps her most lasting impression on the big screen in the Canadian independent production, Melanie. O'Connor played the title role, that of a young illiterate mother fighting to retain custody of her young son, and was awarded with a Genie for "Best Performance by a Foreign Actress."
However, after gaining critical acclaim for her leading role in the 1984 telefilm Why Me?, O'Connor's starring roles dwindled and she appeared, increasingly, in supporting parts on episodic television, telefilms, and direct-to-video productions. She has appeared in several incarnations of the Law & Order franchise in recent years, yet I still hold out hope that she will re-emerge with a prominent role in a feature film.
California Dreaming trailer, 1979: