Part Four: Project Staff

Dennis Wolfberg as Gooshie
by Karen Funk Blocher

Gooshie's name has been spelled both of the above ways in scripts (sometimes in the same script!) and in show credits, but most frequently with two o's, which is how it's spelled in the show's Story Guideline. That is also the spelling the late Dennis Wolfberg (who played Gooshie) preferred. The occasional spelling "Gushie," most frequently found in Don Bellisario's scripts, may be due to Bellisario's previous character named Gushie, a wheelchair-bound bartender in Don's old series Tales of the Gold Monkey. Or, like the name Sibby LoNigro, it may be the name or nickname of a real person Don knows. It has been speculated that Gooshie may be short for Dr. Gooshman, but that has not been established on the series. For all we know, it may not even be a nickname!

Most famous as the "little guy with bad breath," Gooshie is the wild-eyed, absent-minded head programmer for Project Quantum Leap's parallel hybrid computer Ziggy (which Sam designed). Gooshie first appeared in the pilot episode (retitled "Genesis" on its abbreviated NBC rerun in 1989), unhappily witnessing Sam's first leap against Ziggy's advice. He also appeared in "The Leap Back," "Lee Harvey Oswald," "Killin' Time" and "Mirror Image."

Al frequently uses the handlink to talk to Gooshie while in the Imaging Chamber. Sam cannot hear Gooshie's end of the conversation because Gooshie isn't in the Imaging Chamber and touching Al. However, Gooshie did once get his neurons and mesons tuned to Sam's so that he could go into the Imaging Chamber and contact Sam while Al was out chasing escaped leapee Leon Stiles ("Killin' Time"). It was a "rush job," and didn't work well, but it worked.

Back in the first season episode "How the Tess Was Won," Al suspected that his girlfriend Tina was having an affair with Gooshie. Tina eventually gave Gooshie a case of mouthwash and sent him packing--or so she told Al, claiming that she'd never actually slept with Gooshie. Al professed to believe her. However, in "The Leap Back," Ziggy told Sam that "Tina's having an affair with Gooshie."

In the alternate history with St. John instead of Al ("A Leap for Lisa"), Gooshie and Tina were married. Now that Sam has saved Al's first marriage to Beth ("Mirror Image"), Gooshie may well be married to Tina after all.

From the fact that Gooshie has a blue neon Star pin on his shoulder in the pilot episode, an insignia Al also wore and had on his car, it has been speculated that Gooshie worked on the Star Bright Project with Sam and Al before Project Quantum Leap began.

There is another "Gushie" who appeared in the Quantum Leap episode "Mirror Image." "Bearded Gushie," as he was called in the script, was a miner who apparently leaped into his older self in 1953 Cokeburg, PA. Why this is so has yet to be determined, but Stawpah claimed that Gushie was his fellow Russian's given name.

As previously mentioned, another "Gushie" from the Bellisario Name Pool was the wheelchair-bound bartender at the Gold Monkey Bar in Tales of the Gold Monkey. Since the bar was owned by Bon Chance Louie (Roddy McDowell), Roddy has technically played two different characters who supervised someone named Gooshie/ Gushie!

A former teacher as well as a comedian and actor, Dennis Wolfberg (who used to refer to Gooshie as "the Gooshmeister") was once promised that if there was any more Quantum Leap after "Mirror Image," he would be allowed to contribute his own dialogue for the role in future appearances. Unfortunately, that cannot happen now, because Dennis died on October 3, 1994 after a two-year battle with cancer. He is sorely missed.

(Thanks to the late Dennis Wolfberg and to Adina Ringler) © 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/4/97)

by Karen Funk Blocher

Until Sam changed history in "Mirror Image," Tina was Al's current girlfriend. She met him over poker in Las Vegas ("I had a flush, and she had a pair. Oh, what a pair!") and later joined Project Quantum Leap. In the alternate history with St. John instead of Al ("A Leap for Lisa"), Tina was a pulse communication technician. That's probably her job in the other versions of history, too.

Tina came to PQL--or at least met Sam--before Sam first leaped, since Al expected Sam to remember her firsthand in "How the Tess Was Won." Al even accused Sam of having seen Tina's name tattooed in some intimate part of her anatomy. Also, Sam clearly recognized Tina when he got home briefly in "The Leap Back." Since Sam has been gone almost five years as of "Mirror Image," and since Al confirmed to Dr. Ruth that he and Tina have been dating for four years, "give or take a couple of months," the relationship and/or employment at PQL must have started shortly before Sam's first leap.

In Berkley Publishing's Quantum Leap novels by Ashley McConnell et al, Tina's last name is Martinez-O'Farrell, and she is the genius design engineer who keeps Ziggy's hardware functioning. Writer Barbara E Walton even writes about one period in Tina's childhood in her excellent Quantum Leap novel Odyssey. However, these suppositions have not been confirmed on the series or by the show's creators, and so cannot be considered canonical. Nevertheless, it is very likely that Tina is not the bimbo she appears to be.

Because Sam knows Tina, we know that the woman with a flat tire in the pilot episode (two hour version) was not Al's Tina, despite being credited under that name. Al says of that woman, "We've just met!" The woman in the pilot may indeed be named Tina, but she's not "Al's" Tina. Al tells Sam in the fishing scene that "I should have stayed in bed with Tina," but we don't know for sure whether that was the Tina Sam knows or the Tina Al just met. Al could conceivably have been cheating on Tina with Tina!

Tina was also once speculated to be the female Admiral beside Al at the Senate hearings in "Honeymoon Express," but that didn't turn out to be true, either. The female Admiral was present at the Project along with Tina and the others when Sam got home in "The Leap Back."

Tina owns a crocodile, and has a sister, whom she has left town to visit on at least one occasion. She has also been known to visit her mother.

Al was never married to Tina, but he had been married five times until Sam changed Al's past in "Mirror Image." (See Part Three, Question 14 for details.) Al was not especially faithful to Tina (saying "Denise! Get in the closet!" in his sleep in "The Right Hand of God"), but since Tina wasn't especially faithful to Al either it seems to have worked out. In particular, we know from Ziggy that Tina and Gooshie have slept together, and in the St. John (Sinjin) version of history, Tina and Gooshie were married. Now that Al is married to Beth, Tina and Gooshie may well be married in the newly-revised history as well.

Despite all this, the relationship of Al and Tina probably lasted longer than some of Al's marriages in the original history. But that's another story for another CQ Answer.

Al once admitted that he loved Tina, but it took Dr. Ruth Westheimer to actually get Al to say so.

In the category of "the Tina that might have been," there is a comment by Al in the "Tess" script indicating that Tina is missing one eye. Presumably she would have a glass one instead. The same bit of dialogue also mentioned that Gooshie had a wooden leg, and Al speculated that "missing parts attract." Fortunately for Gooshie and Tina, this joke didn't make it to the screen. From what we've seen, Tina and Gooshie each have a full set of body parts!

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/4/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

Ziggy is the parallel hybrid computer with a big ego that Sam designed to run Project Quantum Leap. Installing the ego was a big breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence. It means that Ziggy is self-aware, able to think on its own rather than just running programs. Ziggy is thus a true entity rather than a mere machine, earning the right to be called "he" or "she."

The "parallel hybrid" designation probably refers to circuitry which parallels the human brain in some fashion, possibly even incorporating true biological elements along with the printed boards and microchips. Ashley McConnell speculated in Quantum Leap: The Novel that Ziggy actually contains cloned human cells contributed by Sam and Al. Although this has never been confirmed on the series as aired, there is a description of Ziggy in the script of "The Leap Back" which states that Ziggy contains living brain tissue in a nutrient bath. (This quote appears in another CQ Answer, found in Part 5.) Since this didn't actually appear in the episode, however, we don't know for sure that this is truly the case.

As a computer, Ziggy's ability to upload and process data is remarkable. An entire year's worth of data can be accessed and assimilated in about 12 hours, and the entire works of William Shakespeare can be read and understood in a few seconds. Possessing a high security clearance under the auspices of Admiral Al Calavicci, Ziggy can and does interface with pretty much any other computer database around, processing an amazing amount of data, much of it quite obscure, for the purpose of helping Sam find out what he's there to do.

Ziggy is much more than a huge database with an attitude, however. Ziggy has an amazing ability to track all the changing histories as they occur without losing sight of the original data. With each change, Ziggy accesses the revised newspaper reports and other sources to see the results of Sam's actions between Sam's moment in time and Ziggy's present. Ziggy also can project from the data and her knowledge of human psychology the likelihood that any given version of history will "stick" given Sam's present course of action. She's wrong sometimes, of course, but she also is good enough at it to be a valuable tool to Sam and Al--whether Sam ultimately ignores Ziggy's advice or not!

Until "The Leap Back," Ziggy was always referred to as "he." In "The Leap Back," which opened the 1991-92 season (Season Four), we finally got to see Ziggy. Ziggy had a rather sexy female voice (played by Deborah Pratt), but was still referred to as male. Don Bellisario told a table of fans at the 1991 Viewers for Quality Television banquet that he gave Ziggy Deborah Pratt's voice "to make it a surprise. Then I went through three years of scripts and saw that we'd always referred to Ziggy as a 'he.' I got out of it, though. I had Sam say, 'Why did I have to give HIM Barbra Streisand's ego?'" Oddly, the line in the script was originally, "Why did I give her Warren Beatty's ego?"

Despite this revelation, the sultry-voiced computer was not actually referred to as female until part way through "A Leap For Lisa," the 1991-92 season finale. When Lisa is killed, Sam asks Al to check the odds of being courtmartialed with the words, "Why don't you just ask him though?" But once Al is replaced by St. John (pronounced Sinjin), Sam tells St. John that "Al called her Ziggy." Later, when Al's back, Sam asks Al, "She's still called Ziggy, right?" Then in Season Five, Sam, Al, and Gooshie all consistently called Ziggy "she." It seems likely that this change came about as a side effect of Sam messing with Al's past in "A Leap for Lisa."

Why Al would ever have referred to the female-voiced Ziggy as male is a matter of some conjecture. Computers are traditionally "he." Al may simply not have wanted to deal with Ziggy as female, and Sam followed his lead. Perhaps Lisa not telling about their tryst changed Al's attitude toward women just enough for Al to consider Ziggy female after all. Alternatively, Sam's Swiss cheesed memory after losing Al caused him to misremember Ziggy's nominal gender--and Al, after looking at Sam like he's crazy when he refers to Ziggy as female, decides to accept the change. We'll probably never know for sure.

Quantum Leap: The Novel by Ashley McConnell (1992) proposes a different theory, but as with so much of the QL lore in that novel, it just doesn't fit the established facts. In McConnell's novel, Tina tinkers with Ziggy and the voice goes from baritone to soprano. However, the novel also refers to "Shock Theater" as already having taken place in Sam's and Al's personal pasts. Since "The Leap Back" takes place immediately after that episode, Ziggy's voice should have been female long before Tina tinkered with it!

Another Ziggy in the series appears in the episode "Mirror Image." "Miner Ziggy," as he's called in the script, was an immigrant miner whose real name was Simo Servonovich and who looked just like Captain Galaxy (Moe Stein) in "Future Boy." (Both characters were played by veteran actor Richard Herd.) Miner Ziggy acquired his nickname after an injury while playing "donkey basketball." Probably brain damaged, he "zigged and zagged for a week." Sam mentioned the other Ziggy he knew to Miner Ziggy, referring to the hybrid computer as "a friend." Sam didn't mention that "she" wasn't human.

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/4/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

Sam met Donna Elesee in 1984, just as she "had left the Star Bright Project and was turning 30." Since Sam didn't meet Donna until she'd left Star Bright, my guess is that Sam was hired to replace her. Their first date, on Donna's birthday, was at the Hacienda in Taos. A month later they were engaged. Donna originally didn't show up for the wedding, but Sam changed her past during one of his first leaps ("Star-Crossed"). In that episode, as Professor Gerald Bryant, Sam met a much younger Donna and reunited her with her Vietnam-bound father. Al never told Sam that by doing this he had succeeded in overcoming Donna's fear of commitment, so that Donna married Sam after all. (In "The Americanization of Machiko," Al did make one reference to Sam getting married, only to reassure Sam that he was just kidding.)

Sam therefore didn't know he was married until "The Leap Back." In that episode, he got home to 1998 (Al said 1999 but the evidence from various episodes suggest otherwise) and suddenly remembered his marriage to Donna. Sam was appalled that he could have forgotten her, and no one told him that in the original history (which apparently left his memory, replaced by the new one), she had not married him.

Sam had to leap again to save Al's life in 1945, and when he did so he again forgot about Donna. Al is under strict orders from Donna not to tell Sam about her, because, in her words, "He couldn't do what he has to do if he knew about us." Meanwhile, Dr. Donna Elesee, a quantum physicist, is a key member of the staff of her husband's Project. It may be a measure of her independence, however, that she has kept her mother's maiden name rather than her father's name, Wojohowitz, or her husband's name, Beckett.

Donna is a very controversial figure in Quantum Leap fandom. Partly this is because people are uncomfortable with Sam's unwitting adultery, but some of it is jealousy I think, and also some fans didn't feel that Donna as portrayed in "The Leap Back" was believable, and/or that she was "worthy" of Sam. (Generally speaking, fans prefer Teri Hatcher's portrayal of Donna in "Star-Crossed" to Mimi Kuzyk's in "The Leap Back.") But I like the idea that Sam has Donna to come home to someday. Judging from the final moments of "Mirror Image," however, we know that the next reunion of Sam and Donna may never take place as long as Sam places the needs of others ahead of his own real desire to go home. Donna loses again!

From Donna's scene with Al in "The Leap Back," it seems likely that she chooses not to probe too deeply into what Sam does on his leaps, and that Al is discreet in return. Since Donna is thus "out of the loop," she may not know of Sammy Jo's parentage, nor even that she herself did not originally marry Sam. She could, however, have learned both facts from Ziggy if she so desired, and/or figured out for herself after meeting Sam who Dr. Gerald Bryant really was. As a member of the Project and a brilliant quantum physicist in her own right, it would be easy Donna to learn the full truth about any aspect of Sam's leaps, especially if Ziggy was feeling cooperative.

In fact, two pieces of dialogue cut from "The Leap Back" indicate that Donna may know a lot more about the situation than was apparent in the aired episode. Sam says, "I suppose you know everything I did...after I leaped." Donna replies, "Yes. And I never once felt you were betraying our love." In this context, Donna's words become as altruistic as her husband's actions. They indicated that she probably knows about Nicole and Maggie (Tamlyn and Abagail came later), but does not feel threatened by them. This represents a major change from the committment-shy Donna who left Sam at the altar!

Later, Al threatens to tell Sam about Donna "this time." Donna dissuades him with words that both explain her motivations and reveal the extent of Al's involvement in keeping Sam ignorant of her. She says, "Four years ago you convinced me his amnesia wasn't caused by leaping. That who or whatever was leaping him from life to life did it to free him to think with his heart. So he could put right the terrible wrongs in peoples' lives."

From all this, it seems to me that, far from being "unworthy" of Sam as some fans have said, Donna is an almost perfect match for him. Like Sam himself, Donna Elessee generally puts the needs of the people Sam is helping ahead of her own needs, and in classic romantic fashion, she puts Sam's happiness ahead of her own. Sam's fix of Donna's past in "Star-Crossed" has given her an almost inexhaustable supply of faith and patience. But after seeing Sam for just half a day after years of living without him, is it any wonder Donna had trouble letting Sam leave again, even to save Al? That's not selfish; it's realistic, perhaps the most realistic reaction Donna has in the episode.

As for putting up with Sam sleeping around, that's probably no more than many wives do when their husbands are off to war, indulging themselves with other women while far from the women they love. The soldiers have less excuse than Sam, because they know there is a wife at home, and Sam doesn't. Donna knows that any one Sam sleeps with along the way is a temporary liaison at best, whereas she had Sam for eleven years before Sam first leaped--and for all she knows, she may yet get him back someday.

It must be mentioned, however, that Donna has not been seen or directly mentioned since "The Leap Back," so it is possible --if highly unlikely--that somehow history has changed again, and that Sam has again lost Donna. I personally doubt that this is the case, simply because nothing Sam has done since "The Leap Back" has had any apparent connection with this aspect of Sam's life. And it's a pretty moot point anyway. As long as Sam isn't home, and we never see her at the Project, what difference does it make to us as fans whether she's there or not?

As mentioned above, Donna was originally played by Teri Hatcher, who later went on to fame and fortune as Lois Lane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

(Thanks to Adina Ringler. Some material taken from the QL Story Guideline, 4/91)

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/4/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

Samantha Josephine Fuller (Sammy Jo) is Sam Beckett's daughter by Abagail Fuller, conceived in "Trilogy Part Two" and seen in "Trilogy Part 3." She was conceived either June 14 or June 15 (Al's birthday!), 1966, probably the latter, when Sam rushed back to Abagail before the attempted lynching. She was therefore born about March, 1967. That makes Sammy Jo 32 in 1999, a year younger than Abagail was in "Trilogy Part 3." As of "Mirror Image" she's almost 33.

As a child Sammy Jo had an IQ of 194, not as high as Sam but certainly extraordinary, well above the genius mark.

Once Sam's changing history in Parts 1&2 brought Sammy Jo into existence, Al told Sam he was there (as lawyer Larry Stanton) to help his daughter. Sammy Jo was so traumatized by her mother's conviction on murder charges in the death of Leta Aider that she "dropped out," living alone and writing computer manuals for a "rinky-dink" company. While this job is hardly a horrendous fate, the implication was that, in that particular version of history, Sammy Jo was so emotionally scarred by her past that she remained alone and unhappy, never realizing her potential.

When Sam proved in court that Leta Aider's death was suicide, Sammy Jo remembered witnessing Leta's fatal actions, which she had apparently blocked out to that point. With her mother Abagail safe from execution for murder, Sammy Jo's revised history was a much happier one, with possible consequences for Sam himself. As the new reality kicked in, Al revealed his own newly-"remembered" conversation with the adult Sammy Jo. Although she doesn't know that Sam is her father, Sammy Jo now works for Project Quantum Leap--and even has a theory to get Sam home. (Of course, as we now know from "Mirror Image," nothing is likely to come of this as long as Sam does not subsciously "allow" himself to leap home.)

We don't know whether Sam's wife Donna knows about Sammy Jo's parentage. More on this in my CQ Answers on Donna and on what various people remember.

And Sam? Al and Ziggy claimed that after that leap ended, Sam would forget that Sammy Jo was his daughter. Sam's reply: "I'll know, Al. I'll always know." Whether Sam is correct remains to be seen.

After "Mirror Image" it was speculated that if and when Quantum Leap continued (most likely as a series of films), Al might start leaping along with Sam. If that were to happen, presumably on a temporary basis, Sammy Jo could well become the new Project Observer. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds, since there was a scripted alternate ending to "Mirror Image" in which Al the Bartender sent Al leaping into the future after Sam.

(Thanks to Adina Ringler .)

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/4/97)


Common Questions about QL Index


Back to Common Questions about QL Part Three


Common Questions about QL Part Five


My Quantum Leap Home Page


Index to The Observer early issues
KFB Karen Funk Blocher's Credos and Curios,
with links to other non-Leap pages