There were really three groups of actors on the original Star Trek series:
The leading actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Deforrest Kelley.
There were the weekly and occasionally recurring guest stars. These were people like Richard Kiel (Jaws in the Bond films), Joan Collins, Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd), etc.
But the strength of the show is often measured in the strength of its supporting regular cast. Scotty (James Doohan), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei) and Checkov (Walter Koenig) were often used as set dressing and had little to do. But when they had something to do, they did it well and memorably.
Here are some facts about the actors that gave space for Shatner’s overacting:
Unless you’ve got access to Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine, it’s only videos like this one from 1976 that can shed light on the early days of Star Trek fandom. You’d expect that there would be a lot of changes since then and you’d be right, conventions have gotten much bigger, there are a lot more fans, a lot more merchandise, and Cosplayers continue to roam the convention halls, but some things never change, including those awkward convention interviewers. (more…)
This day in 1966 Star Trek first beamed its way on to American airwaves and however unlikely it seemed, began leaving its mark on pop culture. The voyages of the Enterprise crew – Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov (and occasionally Nurse Chapel or Yeoman Rand) – were only transmitted for three years but thanks to years of syndication Star Trek eventually involved into a phenomenon of six movies, later birthing six more movies and five other television series. The most fervent fans – Trekkies, or Trekkers as some preferred to be called – spearheaded the convention-going culture we today enjoy across many fandoms. Basically, much of what comprises our “geek” culture owes a large debt to Star Trek. It’s been a tent pole among nerdy interests for over four decades!
But even with all that rich history, it’s the original crew that has become the most iconic. Those actors – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig – were forever typecast and depending on when you asked them it was either for better or worse. It was their Enterprise crew J.J. Abrams sought to re-imagine in his 2009 reboot of the series, a film almost universally loved by fans old and new. And today, fans internet-wide are still putting their own stamp on Gene Roddenberry‘s original “Wagon Train to the stars,” with fan fiction, fan art, cosplay, and even fan produced movies and web series.
Star Trek is more alive now than it ever was, and it seems the days of being ashamed by your intense love for phasers, red shirts, and Romulans – not to mention their ale – are far behind us. If you’ve never given Star Trek‘s original series a shot because you thought it looked campy – it is – then you’re missing out on what is genuinely a fantastic show with wonderful writing, heartfelt performances, and excellent explorations of the relationships between its characters. You’re allowed to laugh when the set looks a little shaky, or an alien monster’s zipper is clearly apparent, or when Shatner performs a little too enthusiastically. That’s part of the charm. And sure, there will be truly awful, almost unwatchable episodes, too. But for every “Spock’s Brain” there’s plenty of “Balance of Terror,” “Amok Time,” or “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Today every episode of Star Trek can be streamed online, for free, from a variety of sources. The most free, meaning you don’t have to already have a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime, is on CBS’ own TV.com. You could even renact history by tonight at 8:30 pm ET watching “The Map Trap,” the first aired episode of Star Trek. I like it because it heavily features Dr. McCoy, my favorite character, but I’m not kidding you when I say the villain is salt-sucking vampire creature. Seriously.
To sign off, I’ll leave with the immortal words of Phillip J. Fry from Futurama‘s “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,”
‘Cause it-it taught me so much. Like how you should accept people. Whether they be black, white, Klingon, or even female. But most importantly, when I didn’t have any friends, it-it made me feel like maybe I did.
An inspiration to his fans, many of which became engineers because of him, James Doohan famously played Scottish Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the television and film series Star Trek. Since his untimely passing due to pneumonia, James’ ashes have been resting comfortably at their final rest place except for the one-quarter ounce now floating in high above the planet.
Shortly before his death in 2005, James requested that the portion of his ashes be saved, continuing the tradition of sci-fi heroes launching themselves into the great beyond. According to TrekMovie.com, after a failed attempt in 2008 and a launch delay this past Saturday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched yesterday, holding a payload of canisters – one of which held the ashes of the former TV and movie star.
Check out the launch below:
Several members of the Hollywood community including long time friends Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols, as well as current Scotty, Simon Pegg, paid their final respects to the sci-fi icon via Twitter. The capsule containing James’ ashes will continue to float aimlessly in Earth’s atmosphere, until harmlessly burning up upon reentry next year.