Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beam Her Up, Scotty

Leave it to me to head for the hills...the Hollywood Hills to learn of the passing of Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Majel (nee Hudec) Barrett, the actress known as Nurse Chapel on the original "Star Trek" TV series of the 1960s was also the widow of series creator Gene Roddenberry. Many of my friends there will note that she was a native Clevelander. True devotees of the series will also recall that Roddenberry cast her as "Number One" on the original pilot for "Star Trek." That pilot starring the late Jeffery Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike of the starship Enterprise was scrapped by network executives who were intrigued enough to order another pilot with another male lead: William Shatner in the immortal role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. The original pilot was cleverly used in the two-part season two opener titled "The Cage." While playing Nurse Chapel on the TV series, she struggled as a health officer infatuated with Vulcan First Officer and Science Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) while working alongside Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy (Deforest Kelly). Barrett Roddenberry wed her husband in Japan in 1969 following the cancellation of the series. She began to attend Star Trek conventions around the country and I recall meeting her at one of the first such events held in New Orleans. Following the death of her husband, Barrett Roddenberry became one of the standard bearers of the Star Trek legacy. She appeared in all of the series that followed and was noted as the voice of the computer in all films that were released bearing the Star Trek logo. She just completed the voice of the computer in the upcoming release that is based on the original series and is to be simply titled "Star Trek." Science fiction fans will note that she also appeared in "Babylon V" and was cast in Roddenberry's "Genesis II," which was his last TV project. Fans including me will miss "The First Lady of Star Trek" whose death from complications of leukemia was December 18. She was 76.
Meanwhile, several years following the death of Linda Lovelace, Mark Felt, the real "Deep Throat," also died the same day. Felt, an Associate Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was revealed as Woodward and Bernstein's secret source three years ago, who insisted the reporters follow the money trail that eventually brought the Nixon White House down. Felt, 95, passed peacefully in a hospice in Santa Rosa, California.

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