Space: the final frontier … Star Trek has become one of the greatest franchises in television and movie history. Although the original series ran for only three seasons from 1966-1969, it developed a cult following in reruns and helped usher science fiction into the mainstream. The original cast reunited for several motion pictures and made appearances in subsequent new television and film series. Join us as we take a look back on some of the people who have populated the strange new worlds where no man has gone before!
Gene Roddenberry (1921 – 1991)
Before “Star Trek,” Gene Roddenberry (1921 – 1991) was a freelance TV writer, drafting scripts for shows such as “Highway Patrol” and “Have Gun – Will Travel.” He pitched “Star Trek” as a sort of “Wagon Train to the stars” and oversaw the original series, the first six films and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” before his death.
The original “Star Trek” cast, from left: James Doohan (1920 – 2005) as Scotty, DeForest Kelley (1920 – 1999) as Bones, Walter Koenig as Chekhov, Majel Barrett (1932 – 2008) as nurse Christine Chapel, William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015) as Spock and George Takei as Sulu on the bridge of the starship Enterprise.
Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015)
Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015) was Mr. Spock, one of the great icons of “Star Trek.” He played the half-human, half-Vulcan in the original series and the first six movies, with cameos in “The Next Generation” and the 21st-century reboot movies. His legendary catchphrase was “Live long and prosper.”
DeForest Kelley (1920 – 1999)
DeForest Kelley (1920 – 1999) was an actor, not a doctor! But he played irascible physician Leonard “Bones” McCoy with conviction, and the extraordinary chemistry he shared with co-stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy proved key to the enduring appeal of the franchise.
James Doohan (1920 – 2005)
James Doohan (1920 – 2005) was Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the Enterprise’s excitable engineer. Despite his frequent claims that “she canna take much more, Captain!” he always was able to wring the most from his beloved starship, inspiring generations of fans to become engineers and technicians. The franchise is also known for a pop culture catchphrase, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
Ricardo Montalbán (1920 – 2009)
Ricardo Montalbán (1920 – 2009) played Khan Noonien Singh to villainous perfection. Perhaps the most famous “Star Trek” wrongdoer, Khan Noonien Singh first appeared in the episode “Space Seed.” The genetically engineered super-human attempted to take over the Enterprise before being thwarted by Kirk and banished to Ceti Alpha V. But Kirk and crew hadn’t seen the last of Khan: He resurfaced in the film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” once again portrayed by Montalbán.
Majel Barrett (1932 – 2008)
The “first lady” of “Star Trek,” Majel Barrett (1932 – 2008) played the Enterprise’s first officer No. 1 in the pilot episode before marrying creator Roddenberry. Barrett-Roddenberry returned as nurse Christine Chapel in the original series and later played Lwaxana Troi on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” She also served as the voice of onboard computers.
Mark Lenard (1924 – 1996)
Vulcan astrophysicist and ambassador Sarek, the father of Mr. Spock, was played by Mark Lenard (1924 – 1996) in the original series as well as three films. Lenard also played a Romulan commander in another episode and a Klingon commander in the first “Star Trek” film.
Jane Wyatt (1910 – 2006)
When she played Spock’s human mother Amanda Grayson on the original series, Jane Wyatt (1910 – 2006) was already famous for another motherly role – as the mom in “Father Knows Best.” She returned as Spock’s mother in the film “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
John Colicos (1928 – 2000)
As Kor, John Colicos (1928 – 2000) had the distinction of playing the first Klingon to appear in “Star Trek,” but he didn’t sport the distinctive Klingon head shape. It wasn’t until the films that Klingons received their famous forehead ridges. Fans have speculated about and debated this inconsistency for years.
Michael Ansara (1922 – 2013)
Michael Ansara (1922 – 2013) played the legendary Klingon warrior Kang in three series: “Star Trek,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager.” He is the only actor from the original series to play the same character in three different Trek TV series.
Ted Cassidy (1932 – 1979)
The imposing Ted Cassidy (1932 – 1979) appeared in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” as an alien named Ruk. The actor was familiar already to audiences as Lurch from “The Addams Family.”
Frank Gorshin (1933 – 2005)
Frank Gorshin (1933 – 2005), who played the Riddler on the “Batman” TV series, looked more like Two-Face, with one-half of his face painted white and the other black, in memorable episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” “Star Trek” often tackled serious social issues such as race relations through metaphor.
Vic Tayback (1930 – 1990)
“Star Trek” also had overtly comic storylines such as “A Piece of the Action,” an episode in which Vic Tayback (1930 – 1990) plays Jojo Krako, an alien who comes from a culture that worships a discarded Earth book titled “Chicago Mobs of the Twenties.” Tayback later would be known for his role as diner owner Mel on the sitcom “Alice.”
Celia Lovsky (1897 – 1979)
Celia Lovsky (1897 – 1979) played Vulcan official T’Pau in famous episode “Amok Time,” in which she oversaw Kirk and Spock in a fight to the death. The only episode of the original series to take place on Vulcan, it also featured the first use of the “live long and prosper” finger salute.
Jill Ireland (1936 – 1990)
Under the influence of mysterious plant spores, the normally logical Spock neglected his duties and romanced Leila Kalomi, played by Jill Ireland (1936 – 1990) in the episode “This Side of Paradise.” With a limited budget, the TV series often relied on strong writing and characterization rather than special effects to entertain audiences.
Persis Khambatta (1948 – 1998)
Ten years after the cancellation of the original series, “Star Trek” was reborn on the big screen in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” One of the highlights was Ilia, who became a victim of the mysterious V’Ger. Actress Persis Khambatta (1948 – 1998), a former Miss India, shaved her head to play the Deltan navigator.
Paul Winfield (1939 – 2004)
Acclaimed actor Paul Winfield (1939 – 2004) played the tragic Captain Clark Terrell in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” As the leader of the starship Reliant, he becomes a pawn in Khan’s plot to kill his nemesis Kirk.
Bibi Besch (1940 – 1996)
Austrian actress Bibi Besch (1940 – 1996) played Project Genesis’ lead scientist, Carol Marcus, a former lover of Kirk who has a not-so-little surprise for him.
Brock Peters (1927 – 2005)
As Fleet Admiral Cartwright, Brock Peters (1927 – 2005) projected the authority of a Starfleet admiral in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” He would later play the father of commanding officer Benjamin Sisko in “Deep Space Nine.”
Anton Yelchin (1989 – 2016)
Anton Yelchin, who took over the role of Chekov, the navigator of the Enterprise in the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise, died in an accident on June 19 2016. He had already completed filming of the new Star Trek movie, “Star Trek Beyond,” at the time of his death. The moviewas released July 22 2016.
Barry Jenner (1941 – 2016)
Barry Jenner (1941 – 2016) played Admiral William Ross, Field Commander of Starfleet forces during the Dominion War, on a number of “Deep Space Nine” episodes.
Barbara March (1953 – 2019)
Barbara March (1953 – 2019) played Lursa, one of the fierce Klingon Duras sisters, in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and the feature film “Star Trek Generations.”