By: Kevin J. Walsh
October 26, 2022

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of favorite killed-off TV characters. Series edited by Heather Quinlan.



For over 50 years and counting I have watched Star Trek, from the original series all the way to its current iteration, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I’ve seen all the films. The only series I couldn’t warm up to was Deep Space Nine for whatever reason, and I thought Star Trek: Discovery’s plots were too complex. My overall fascination with the show centers on The Original Series, 1966-1969, and more specifically, the first 10 or so episodes.

In very early Star Trek, the characters were still being developed. Mr. Spock was excitable and shouted orders, while Dr. McCoy was nowhere to be found. The sets and the sound effects were a bit different from what was decided upon later, but once Star Trek settled into a more formulaic show centered around Captain James Kirk and Mr. Spock, ancillary characters were allowed to shine somewhat. Mr. Sulu displayed an interest in swordsmanship and botany; Lieutenant Uhura liked to sing; Mr. Scott was an avid drinker, if not a drunk; and Nurse Christine Chapel pined futilely for Mr. Spock. (Christine was unlucky in love, as her old boyfriend turned out to be an evil android.)

While plenty of women crew members were featured most prominently in the early episodes, none ranked higher than lieutenant; most were ensigns or yeomen, which I took to mean personal assistant to an officer. Though she often was the ranking officer on the bridge, Uhura never got to sit in the command chair, though Sulu did. In the Original Series’ last episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” it’s revealed plainly that even in the 24th Century, women weren’t considered command caliber, a blemish later corrected in later series, as Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Discovery featured female captains and admirals.

James Kirk had a personal assistant in the early episodes, Yeoman Janice Rand, played by Grace Lee Whitney, who was 36 in 1966 when her episodes aired, practically old age for an actress in that era. Since the early 1950s, Whitney had sang and danced on Broadway, was the original model for the Chicken of the Sea mermaid, and appeared in hundreds of TV shows and films, including Some Like It Hot and Irma La Douce. On Star Trek, her character was lusted after by Charlie X, who was raised by aliens who never taught him to rein in his psychokinetic abilities, and by the evil duplicate of Kirk in “Enemy Within.” Unlike Nurse Chapel with Spock, her affection for the real Kirk wasn’t made plain until one of the last episodes she was in, “Miri,” in which she confessed she was always trying to get Kirk to notice her.

Grace Lee Whitney’s stint on Star Trek ended in an unfortunate manner, as an executive associated with the series pressured her for sex, to which she acceded, and she was soon after terminated. As she related in her 1989 memoir, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, she believed the executive didn’t want to be reminded of his indiscretion and pressed for her ouster. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who was unaware of the incident, for his part feared Kirk and Rand were getting too close and that would interfere with Kirk’s sexually swashbuckling persona. However, Janice Rand was brought back later and appeared in several of the films in various roles, including communications and transporter officers.

On the first few episodes of Star Trek, women crew members wore pants, but when Grace joined the show, she suggested to Roddenberry and costume designer William Ware Theiss that she wear a mini-dress, as she was proud of her Broadway dancer’s legs. The redesigned costume was used as late as Star Trek: Enterprise in the early 2000s. In 2022’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the Number One character played by Rebecca Romijn wears a tunic cut similarly to The Original Series’ minis.

After descending into drug and alcohol addiction for a short while in the 1970s, Grace Lee Whitney continued her singing career and appeared frequently at Star Trek conventions. She passed away in 2015 at age 85.


KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Max Alvarez on LANE PRYCE | Lynn Peril on PETE DUEL | Miranda Mellis on LISA KIMMEL FISHER | Trav SD on COL. HENRY BLAKE | Russ Hodge on DET. BOBBY SIMONE | Kathy Biehl on PHIL HARTMAN| Jack Silbert on MARTY FUNKHOUSER | Catherine Christman on MRS. LANDINGHAM | Kevin J. Walsh on YEOMAN JANICE RAND | Heather Quinlan on DERMOT MORGAN | Adam McGovern on LT. TASHA YAR | Nick Rumaczyk on BEN URICH | Josh Glenn on CHUCKLES THE CLOWN | Bart Beaty on COACH | Krista Margies Kunkle on JOYCE SUMMERS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on DENNY DUQUETTE | Marc Weidenbaum on SGT. PHIL ESTERHAUS | Michael Campochiaro on GORDON CLARK | Fran Pado on EDITH BUNKER | Mark Kingwell on OMAR LITTLE | Bridget Bartolini on ALEX KAMAL | David Smay on VANESSA IVES | Tom Nealon on JOSS CARTER | Michele Carlo on FREDDIE PRINZE | Crockett Doob on AUNT LOUISE.