In late breaking news tonight, nearly a week after the passing of Leonard Nimoy, another tall figure in Star Trek history has passed away. Writer and producer Harve Bennett died today at his Oregon home, ending what had been a long and prolific career primarily as a TV producer and executive. By and large though, nerds everywhere will remember him as the man that got the Star Trek franchise back on track in 1982 when he made a number of shrewd moves that lead to the production of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Bennett is being remember tonight as the unsung hero of Trek, someone that made sure that the series lived long and prospered during some lean years.
But Bennett wasn’t always the man behind Star Trek’s movie success, and instead spent much of his career as a TV executive for two of the three major networks, CBS and ABC. He was a producer on The Mod Squad, one of the quintessential TV shows of the 70s. He then dipped his toe into sci-fi, creating The Invisible Man, and producing The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off The Bionic Woman.
In the early 80s though he was approached by Paramount Pictures to rejuvenated the new Star Trek film series after the mixed reception of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The success of Khan would keep Bennett in the proverbial Captain’s seat through Star Trek’s biggest box office success in The Voyage Home, to what’s arguable it’s worst moment in The Final Frontier. He stepped down as producer when his concept for Star Trek VI, a Starfleet Academy prequel featuring young versions of the original series cast, was refused for a final adventure with the original actors.
“He was a remarkable man and he was unpretentious and self-effacing. I don’t think there would be a Star Trek franchise without him. He rescued it. He’s endangered of being lost in the shuffle, but he’s the guy who figured it out,” said Nicholas Meyer, director of Star Trek II and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Bennett was 84 years old and is survived by his wife Carole and their four children.