Monday, May 04, 2015
Tribute: Grace Lee Whitney (1930 - 2015)
The Star Trek universe has lost more starlight today.
The press is reporting the death of Grace Lee Whitney (1930 - 2015) at age 85.
Ms. Whitney played Yeoman Janice Rand during the first third (or eight episodes) of the first season of Star Trek in 1966.
Whitney's beloved character encountered Charlie Evans ("Charlie X"), Romulans ("Balance of Terror") and even a Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Captain Kirk, due to a transporter malfunction ("The Enemy Within.")
Whitney's Janice Rand also visited a parallel Earth in "Miri," and revealed her (not very well...) hidden love for Kirk during landing party duty.
For many of us who grew up with Star Trek, Janice Rand represents our first real movie or TV crush.
I know this statement is true for me. As a very young man, I felt much like awkward teenager Charlie Evans myself, and that Janice was a radiant beacon of compassion, love and intelligence. I was sad that the character, and Ms. Whitney, did not have the opportunity to be on Star Trek longer.
Whitney did return to the Star Trek family for roles in The Motion Picture (1979) -- as Transporter Chief Rand -- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
Whitney returned to the role Janice Rand a final time in the Star Trek Voyager (1995 - 2001) third season episode "Flashback" in 1996.
Mrs. Whitney was also a familiar face on cult-television throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
She starred with Carroll O'Connor and Barry Morse in a memorable episode of The Outer Limits, "Controlled Experiment" (1964). She also starred on a two-part episode of the Adam West Batman series featuring Victor Buono's villain, King Tut. In 1978, Whitney had a guest role on John Newland's revived paranormal anthology, The Next Step Beyond ("The Confession.")
Beyond sci-fi and superheroes, Grace Lee Whitney logged many memorable appearances on popular TV programs including Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and The Untouchables.
Grace Lee Whitney will be remembered and loved for generations to come, and I express my deepest condolences to her family and loved ones today.