Trekkies are in town this week for the annual Star Trek convention at the Rio Suites hotel, which celebrates a franchise that contributed 726 television episodes and 11 feature films to American culture.
KLAS-TV Channel 8 sent Multimedia Editor Mike Cao to the convention to bring back photos of Star Trek stars and costumed pretenders, a risky assignment considering one may have to confront enemy Klingons and Romulans. With that in mind here is a tribute to eight actors and actresses who appeared on the original TV show during its inaugural season in 1966 and 1967.
William Shatner will be at the Star Trek Convention at the Rio Hotel on Sunday August 12
1. William Shatner
Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk, who guided the U.S.S. Enterprise through space and was Star Trek's original leading man. As an action figure, he had an easy time attracting the ladies. In real life, Shatner left the original series when it was canceled in 1969 but starred in many of the Star Trek movies. He also continued to enjoy success on TV as a police sergeant on "T.J. Hooker," as a host on "Rescue 911," and as an attorney on both "The Practice" and "Boston Legal." His television performances earned the 81-year-old actor multiple Emmy awards and a Golden Globe Award.
2. Leonard Nimoy
He portrayed the Vulcan character Spock, a lieutenant commander who served under Kirk. Known for his pointy ears and big brain, Spock also was famous for a Vulcan salute in which he separated his middle and ring fingers to form a ‘V.' Nimoy, who is four days younger than Shatner, also participated in many of the Star Trek films. He later had a role on TV's "Mission: Impossible" and continued to perform his craft on the big and small screens as well as on stage. The versatile Nimoy also recorded Star Trek albums and did a variety of other voice work.
3. DeForest Kelley
As Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Kelley's character was chief medical officer on the Enterprise. Bones also got into a lot of arguments with Kirk and Spock, adding to the tension on the starship. Kelley starred in subsequent Star Trek films but didn't have much artistic success outside the franchise. He died of stomach cancer in 1999 at age 79.
4. James Doohan
He played Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott and did so with a thick Scottish accent. As the starship's chief engineer, he was the guy everyone else counted on to patch up the starship after it encountered enemy force. Like Kelley, Doohan appeared in Star Trek films and conventions but did little else on the acting front after leaving the TV series. He died of pneumonia in 2005 at age 85.
Nichelle Nichols will be at the Star Trek Convention at the Rio Hotel on Thursday August 9
5. Nichelle Nichols
As Lieutenant Uhuru, Nichols' character was the communications officer for the Enterprise, a portrayal that served as a role model for black women. Nichols and Shatner also made history in 1968 when their characters shared what was believed to be the first interracial kiss on television in this country. Aside from appearances in Star Trek films, Nichols, 79, helped NASA recruit minorities and women.
George Takei will be at the Star Trek Convention at the Rio Hotel on Sunday August 12
6. George Takei
Takai portrayed Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Enterprise. While Takei also appeared in Star Trek films, he has become best known during his post-Star Trek career as an advocate for gay rights. Takei, 75, also played a role in the planning of the Los Angeles subway system as a member of the Southern California Rapid Transit District board.
7. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (born Majel Leigh Hudec)
The woman who portrayed head nurse Christine Chapel on the starship was also married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. The nurse was attracted to Spock but he didn't respond in kind. Still, the actress squeezed the most out of her participation in Star Trek by managing to find roles in every version of the franchise up until her death from leukemia in 2008 at age 76.
Grace Lee Whitney will be at the Star Trek Convention at the Rio Hotel on Friday August 10
8. Grace Lee Whitney
Arguably the most obscure of the original cast members, Whitney portrayed Kirk's personal assistant as yeoman Janice Rand and barely made it past the halfway mark of the first season before she was dropped from the television show. But Whitney, now 82, reappeared in some of the Star Trek movies and penned the autobiography "The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy."
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