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The First Lady of Star Trek

Published: 2/23/2013
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Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (Everett Collection)

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's wife – and his favorite actress. She appeared in his television shows and movies again and again, spanning the years from the original series to the recent reboot. From her first appearance in the original Star Trek pilot episode to her final role in 2009's Star Trek movie, a voiceover as the ship's computer recorded just days before her death, Barrett-Roddenberry was an intrinsic part of Star Trek.

Barrett-Roddenberry, who died Dec. 18, 2008 of leukemia, would have celebrated her 81st birthday today. In her honor, we're revisiting some of the great work she did with the franchise that has defined sci-fi since the 1960s.

Barrett-Roddenberry was there from the very beginning – in the very first episode of Star Trek, she played Number One, the Enterprise's first officer.

The character didn't play well with test audiences and was nixed before the second episode. But Barrett-Roddenberry was soon back on the Enterprise in a recurring role as Nurse Christine Chapel.

As a new crop of fans discovered the franchise with Star Trek: The Next Generation, they also were introduced to Barrett-Roddenberry as the overbearing mother of ship's counselor Deanna Troi. When she wasn't embarrassing her daughter, widowed ambassador Lwaxana Troi had her sights set on Captain Picard.

From the original series through The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, Roddenberry provided the voice of the onboard computers of Federation starships. And she brought the role to the movies too, voicing the computer in most of the original run of films and bringing continuity to the reboot with her familiar voice.

When Barrett-Roddenberry died, a piece of Star Trek went with her. Though the franchise goes on, with Star Trek Into Darkness coming out later this year, the new movie and future installments won’t be the same without the first lady on board.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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