Friday, December 19, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry (1932 - 2008)

The First Lady of Star Trek has passed away.

The AP is now reporting that Majel Barrett Roddenberry died yesterday, on December 18, 2008, at 76.

In the universe of Star Trek (1966-1968), Ms. Roddenberry portrayed Nurse Christine Chapel, Dr. McCoy's assistant in sick bay and a human Starfleet officer who fell in love with the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock.

Some of Ms. Roddenberry's most prominent performances came early in first season Star Trek episodes such as "The Naked Time" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of." Roddenberry reprised the character for the Filmation animated Star Trek series of the early 1970s (along with an alien communications officer named M'Ress) and in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

In Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 - 1994), Ms. Roddenberry portrayed Counselor Troi's Betazoid mother, Lwaxana, in a handful of episodes including "Haven," and "Menage-a-Troi." She played the same part in an early first season episode of Deep Space Nine.

Throughout various incarnations of Trek -- including the upcoming Abrams film -- Ms. Roddenberry also gave memorable voice to the Enterprise's computer.

Between Treks, Mrs. Roddenberry had supporting roles in the pilots created by her husband, Gene Roddenberry, including Genesis II, The Questor Tapes and Spectre. Outside of Star Trek, she guested on such genre programs as The Next Step Beyond (1978) and Babylon 5 (1993-1998). She also appeared in sci-fi films including Westworld (1972).

On a personal note, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Roddenberry in the year 2000, when she was planning an animated Roddenberry/Stan Lee collaboration entitled Starship. We also discussed Star Trek: The Animated Series for a "vintage vision" article for the now-defunct Cinescape, and the possibility of 21st century revivals of both Genesis II and Spectre.

My memory from that interview is of a charming person -- one at ease with herself -- who answered all my questions with humor, wit and grace.

My deepest condolences go out to Mrs. Roddenberry's son, Eugene, to whom the "Great Bird of the Galaxy" torch is now passed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thundarr the Barbarian in "Valley of the Man-Apes"

In “Valley of the Man-Apes,” Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla ride through Death Canyon when they spy intelligent ape creatures digging in the dese...