Mar
16
2009

What happened to the cast of the original Star Trek TV series?

The Star Trek Pez candy dispensers modeled after Star Trek characters was sold in a limited edition of 250,000 units in 2008. Mat Honan photo. CC-BY.

The Star Trek Pez candy dispensers modeled after Star Trek characters was sold in a limited edition of 250,000 units in 2008. Mat Honan photo. CC-BY.

When NBC started airing Star Trek in 1966 few could have imagined the cultural icon it would become. Here’s what happened to the leading characters of the show after it ended:

William Shatner (James T. Kirk) was relatively absent from acting for years after the end of Star Trek, possibly because he had been typecast from his iconic role. In the 1980s, he played the role of a police office in T.J. Hooker TV series, had numerous other roles, most of them minor, and later became the main pitchman for Priceline.com, helping make it a leader in the then-nascent Internet travel industry. He also made various recordings and wrote several books. In 2004, he took a role as Denny Crane in the final episodes of ABC’s The Practice, a role he continues today on the spinoff Boston Legal show. In 1999, his wife, Nerine Kidd-Shatner, drowned in their swimming pool; he has since remarried.

Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) has appeared in dozens of TV shows and in many films, usually with minor or non-recurring roles (except in the Trek films), since the original show ended. He has also been a voice portrayor in numerous animated films and wrote two autobiographical books. He also has received some acclaim as a photographer in recent years and has a role in the 2009 Trek film.

James Doohan (Scotty), in addition to appearing in Trek movies, made a living largely by making personal appearance at Trek conventions and other events. In 2000 at the age of 80, he became a father for the seventh and final time. He died in 2005 of Alzheimer’s and pneumonia.

DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard McCoy) had some minor acting roles and wrote in addition to appearing in many of the Trek films. He died in 1999 of cancer.

Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) has had various minor acting roles and currently plays Nana Dawson on the NBC series Heroes. From the late 1970s to the late 1980s she worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to recruit astronaut candidates, many of them women or racial minorities. She also has been a spokeswoman for The Kwanzaa Foundation.

George Takei (Sulu) has had numerous minor acting roles and has often appeared on the Howard Stern radio show. In recent years he has been involved in various pro-gay-rights activities; in 2008, during the few months that same-sex marriages were legal in California, he wed long-time partner Brad Altman.

Walter Koenig (Chekov) has had numerous acting roles, among them a stint on TV’s Babylon 5. He also has been involved with various plays and wrote several books. He most recently wrote InAlienable, promoted as the first feature-length film to premier on the Internet.

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