Wednesday, December 30, 2015

R.I.P. 2015 From Star Trek and Doctor Who

More than anyone else, Leonard Nimoy had come to represent and embody the enduring spirit of Star Trek.  His death early this year had immediate global impact, but his absence for Trek's 50th anniversary year ahead I believe will be felt even more.

Besides creating the character of Spock for the original series, a notable two-parter on The Next Generation, and for 8 of the 12 Star Trek features to date, Nimoy directed and helped create two of the "trilogy" films (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and IV: The Voyage Home) as well as performing a famous scene in the first of the three, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.   Two other principal figures in creating the trilogy also died in 2015: producer and writer Harv Bennett (pictured with Nimoy at the top) and Oscar winning composer James Horner (pictured right).

Others who were part of Star Trek from the beginning also died in 2015 and sadly will not be part of the anniversary year.  George Clayton Johnson wrote "The Man Trap," the first episode to air--marking the exact anniversary date of September 8, 1966. Cinematographer Howard A. Anderson, Jr. ran the Anderson Company, the lead special effects house for TOS, beginning with the first pilot, "The Cage."

Grace Lee Whitney performed as Yeoman Janice Rand in the first season, and returned in later years for appearances in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and other features, as well as several independent films.  She was cherished as well on the convention circuit.

Bruce Hyde appeared as Lt. Kevin Riley in two early TOS episodes, and was one of the few previously introduced characters (in gold shirts, at least) to be killed--he was murdered in "The Conscience of the King."  Hyde later went against type to have a distinguished academic career as a professor of communications.

Also appearing in "The Conscience of the King"was David-Troy, who had studied acting with Leonard Nimoy.

Yvonne Joyce Craig made a lasting impression as a captive Orion dancer in "Whom Gods Destroy."

Others from TOS include writer Don Mankiewicz ("Court Martial") actor Carolynne Barry ("Arena"),  actor Gregg Palmer ("Spectre of the Gun") and stunt player Eddie Hice ("Day of the Dove," "Wink of An Eye").

In 2015 Star Trek: The Next Generation lost actor Theodore Bikel, who played Worf's father, and Rusty McClennon, who served as Michael Dorn's stunt double as Worf.

TNG also lost writer-producer Maurice Hurley, actor William Newman (memorable in "Up the Long Ladder" as pictured left, he had once been considered to play Jean Luc Picard), actors Karen Montgomery ("Angel One"), Ellen Albertini Dow and George Coe.

Karen Montgomery
From Voyager and DS9, Star Trek also lost actors Tom Towles and Terrence Evans, and from the feature films actor Jeri McBride (TMP), actor John Miranda (Star Trek IV), actor Alan Marcus (Star Trek VI), producer Bernard Williams (Star Trek: Generations),  stunt Borg Tom Poster (Star Trek: First Contact), and stunt player Dina Lupo (Star Trek: Insurrection). Though she was best known as an actor (the "Log Lady" on Twin Peaks), Catherine Coulson was a production assistant on Star Trek II.

Penny Juday was art department coordinator for Star Trek features from Star Trek VI through Star Trek: Nemesis.  She had cameos in "Generations" and "Insurrection," and as a dedicated archivist she was also a fan favorite.

Olaf Pooley was one of the small number of actors--estimated at 28--who appeared in both Star Trek and Doctor Who episodes.  He appeared in "Inferno," a Jon Pertwee story of Doctor Who in 1970.  Exactly 30 years later, he appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Blink of an Eye."  He died in 2015 at the age of 101.

The only television science fiction saga to rival Star Trek in longevity is the British series Doctor Who.  In 2015 it lost Anthony Read, who was its script editor in the classic Tom Baker period of the late 70s. He supervised  the season-long Key of Time episodes (with Mary Tamm as the female Time Lord Romana) and he welcomed a young writer to Doctor Who named Douglas Adams, who juggled some of the best classic Who episodes with his other project, A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In 2015 the series also lost actor Kenneth Gilbert (one of many actors on Doctor Who--usually playing villains--who also played classical parts with the Royal Shakespeare Company) as well as actors Rex Robinson, Clifford Earl, David McAlister, Hugh Walters, stunt players Derek Ware and Richard Bonehill, and director Fiona Cummings.

Also passing in 2015 were Melissa Mathison, screenwriter for the Steven Speilberg classic  E.T. :The Extra-Terrestrial, Robert Kinoshita, designer of Robbie the Robot; Rex Reason, star of the classic 1950s films This Island Earth and The Creature Walks Among Us; and Jack Larson, famous as Jimmy Olsen on the classic 1950s television series The Adventures of Superman  with George Reeves. Larson later
had a career as a producer and playwright.  In 1952, the same year he began acting in the Superman series, he appeared in the film Kid Monk Baroni, which starred Leonard Nimoy.

May they rest in peace.  Their work lives on, into the future.


Spacerguy said...

Its tragic looking back to see how many Star Trek actors have passed recently but at least they lived the dream. Happy New Year Captain Future, btw I'm Spacerguy from Star Trek Sci Fi Blog. I'd be honoured if you'd like to exchange reciprocal links?

Captain Future said...

Done. Happy New and 50th Anniversary Year!

Spacerguy said...

Hi Captain, Soul of Star Trek is fascinating. I'm looking forward to your stories and adventures heading into 2016!