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Star Trek The Original Series Cast Members Who Have Sadly Died

Star Trek The Original Series debuted more than 55 years ago. The inaugural offering in what would eventually become one of the most iconic science-fiction franchises of all time created by the legendary Gene Roddenberry and produced by Desilu Productions. Interestingly when Star Trek first debuted on NBC in 1966, it wasn’t successful. Ratings were low and ad revenue was less than expected. Throughout the show’s second season, the threat of cancellation ominously loomed overhead like a Klingon Bird of Prey.

After airing for 79 episodes over three seasons, Star Trek ended up getting the ax. After entering into syndication. However, it enjoyed record-breaking success and took on a new life as it’s fan base grew from the late 60s throughout the 70s.

Flash forward to today, Star Trek has never been more popular. Currently spin-off series like Star Trek: Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, and Prodigy are thriving on Paramount+. While modern-day Trekkies have a virtual all-you-can-watch buffet of Trek-offerings to choose from. The series that got the ball rolling more than half a century ago remains the most influential and iconic.

In the years that have gone by since Captain Kirk, his chief science officer Spock. And the rest of the USS Enterprise crew first embarked on their five-year mission to go where no man – or woman – has gone before, sadly quite a few of The Original Series’ cast members have passed away. Join Facts verse as we take a moment to show our respects to the Star Trek The Original Series Cast that were instrumental in introducing the western world. The stars we’re about to discuss may no longer be with us. But the contributions that they made to the world of science fiction will endure for eons to come.

Nichelle Nichols

Born Grace Dell Nichols, Nichelle portrayed communications officer Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series. Her addition to the cast was groundbreaking for African American actresses on TV. Notably, she shared one of the first interracial kisses to broadcast on television in the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’.

That moment, which she shared with her co-star William Shatner, was an act of great courage on her part. There had been a few interracial kisses on American TV previously. For example, a year prior to that 1968 episode, Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on ‘Movin’ With Nancy’.

While that undoubtedly a landmark television moment as well. The kiss between Uhura and Captain Kirk was likely the very first lip-to-lip kiss shared between a white and African American star.

While that kiss was quite significant, Nichols performance across the board was quite powerful. Uhura was a very capable officer who was able to man pretty much any station on the bridge whenever she needed to. As such, she’s one of the first Black women to be featured in a non-menial role on TV.

Nichols played Uhura on the original Star Trek series throughout all three seasons. In addition to voicing her on Star Trek: The Animated Series. She later reprised her role in the first six Star Trek movies.

Post-Star Trek, Nichols employed by NASA. Where from 1977 to 2015, she volunteered her time to promote NASA’s various programs while recruiting diverse astronauts, including people of color and women.

Nichelle died of heart failure on July 30, 2022 at the age of 89. At her home in Silver City, New Mexico, making her the most recent cast member to have passed away.

James Doohan

He brought life and a great deal of soul to the character of chief engineer Montgomery Scott aka Scotty. James’ portrayal of the Enterprise’s biggest fanboy and miracle worker is a cornerstone of the Star Trek Universe.

Shockingly, we learned in the documentary Inside Star Trek: The Real Story that Gene Roddenberry nearly fired him following his debut in the show’s second pilot episode ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’. Fortunately, Gene decided to keep him around. And Doohan went on to become an integral part of all three seasons of the series.

He went on to reprise his role in Star Trek: The Animated Series, seven of the Trek feature films, and even in a sixth season episode of Star: Trek The Next Generation. For the remainder of his life, Doohan dedicated the majority of his time to Star Trek and it’s fandom. During his later years, Doohan could frequently seen attending Star Trek and Sci-Fi conventions. In 2004, however, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease forced him to drop out of the spotlight. He passed away a little over a year later on July 20, 2005, at the age of 79. Join Facts verse to show our respects to the Star Trek The Original Series Cast that were instrumental in introducing the western world.

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Simon Nimoy was born on the 26th of March, 1931. He rose to international fame when he cast as first officer and chief science officer Spock in the original Star Trek series. For the next 50 years, Nimoy would continue to portray the stoic half-human-half-Vulcan in continuations of the Star Trek franchise, such as Star Trek: The Animated Series, the first six Trek films, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In addition to acting, Nimoy also directed films like Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Nimoy is notable for being the only character that survived past Gene Roddenberry’s first Star Trek pilot episode ‘The Cage’. Over the course of the series, the cool, logical, and Emmy Award-nominated Spock became the show’s most popular character.

In 2014, Nimoy revealed that he had diagnosed with COPD. A condition that was attributed to the many years he spent smoking. Even though he quit in the 80s, the damage had apparently already been done. On February 25, 2015, Nimoy slipped into a coma after seeking medical attention for chest pains at UCLA Medical Center a little over a week prior. He passed away at his home in Bel Air two days later at the age of 83. Join Facts verse to show our respects to the Star Trek The Original Series Cast that were instrumental in introducing the western world.

DeForest Kelly

Deforest was an actor, poet, screenwriter and singer best known for his role as chief medical officer Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek: The Original Series.

He was born in 1920 in Georgia and decided to pursue an acting career after serving in the Second World War. He landed his first film role in the 1946 flick Fear in the Night. Following that Kelly appeared in a steady stream of film, stage, and TV roles, frequently being cast as villains.

After landing his role on Trek, Kelly devoted the majority of his acting career to the franchise. In addition to appearing in the trailblazing television series, Kelly also appeared in six Star Trek films, voiced his character in the Animated Series, and made a brief cameo on the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Kelly died of stomach cancer at the age of 79 on the 11th of June, 1999. Join Facts verse to show our respects to the Star Trek The Original Series Cast that were instrumental in introducing the western world.

Jeffrey Hunter

Before William Shatner’s Captain Kirk took the center seat on the Enterprise’s bridge, Captain Christopher Pike played by Jeffery Hunter was at the helm — albeit briefly. Hunter played Captain Pike in the first Star Trek pilot episode “The Cage”, but after NBC requested a second pilot, Hunter declined to return. Rumor has it, Hunter’s wife at the time played a significant role in his decision. Regardless, this forced Gene Roddenberry to give the newly created role of Captain James T. Kirk to Shatner.

Captain Pike would remain a key addition to Star Trek Canon. Recently, the character was brought back in the Star Trek: Discovery spin-off series Strange New Worlds. In that series, Pike is portrayed by Anson Mount.

Post-Star Trek, Hunter continued to work in films and TV, but tragically he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage on May 26, 1969, at his home in California. Following the hemorrhage, Hunter fell down a flight of stairs and fractured his skull. He died the following morning at the age of 42.

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Star Trek, Barret bears the unique distinction among Star Trek cast members of being the wife of the series creator Gene Roddenberry. She’s played a number of characters throughout the Star Trek Universe, but on the original series, she portrayed Nurse Christine Chapel. She voiced that same character in the animated series and appeared in two of the Trek films.

In the first pilot, Barret played Christopher Pike’s second-in-command. Una Chin-Riley, commonly known as Number One. In Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, she played the character Lwaxana Troi. Additionally, she provided the voice of the onboard computer interfaces featured in the franchise from 1966 to 2009.

After a long, fulfilling career, Majel died of leukemia on the morning of December 18, 2008, at her home in Bel Air.

Grace Lee Whitney

This actress appeared as Yeoman Janice Rand in eight episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Despite her short tenure as a crew member of the Enterprise, Yeoman is still seen as being one of the most memorable characters from the show’s early days.

Halfway through the production of season one, Whitney was released from her contract. Several reasons have been presented to explain her departure including budget cuts and the network’s desire to allow Kirk to pursue other women without her being around. Whitney later revealed that a sexual assault perpetrated by a studio executive might have contributed as well.

Whitney briefly reprised her role in three Star Trek movies and remained a popular celebrity guest on the Star Trek convention circuit. Before Star Trek, she had already found success as an actress and singer and continued to work afterward as well.

After surviving substance abuse, Whitney spent a large chunk of her later years helping others on their path to recovery. She passed away from natural causes at age 85 on May 1, 2015.

Well, that about covers all of the major Star Trek cast members that have died in the years since the franchise got it’s start. Who was your favorite character from the original series, and which reboot of Star Trek do you think best represents Gene Roddenberry’s vision? Let us know in the comments section down below.

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