Star Trek, Where Are They Now?

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Photo Credit: Star Trek: © 1994 Paramount Pictures/Getty Images 
George Takei As Sulu (L) And Walter Koenig As Chekov (R) In The Television Series, "Star Trek." (Photo By Getty Images)

Never Fully Able To Separate Themselves From Their Classic Characters, The
Original “Star Trek” Actors Boldly Continued Exploring New Projects.

By Jeff Pfeiffer

Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura)
The fact that in 1966 an actress of color like Nichols was even cast on a major U.S. TV series — as a character who had as prominent a position as Uhura did as the Enterprise‘s bridge officer — was revolutionary and has continued to influence other African American TV characters and actors. Nichols reprised her groundbreaking role in the first six Star Trek films, and she and Uhura have also inspired many women and minorities to look to the stars for their life’s pursuits — since the late 1970s, she has worked with NASA to help recruit a diverse field of astronauts.

George Takei (Hikaru Sulu)
In the decades following his role as Enterprise helmsman Sulu, Takei has appeared in a number of largely guest/supporting roles in film and on TV. His biggest projects came when he reprised Sulu in the first six Star Trek films. The actor has also become known as an outspoken social activist, particularly for immigration policies and LGBTQ issues. Takei’s childhood experiences when he was forced with his family into a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II inspired the 2012 musical Allegiance, in which he starred, as well as Season 2 of the anthology TV series The Terror in 2019.

William Shatner (Captain James Tiberius Kirk)
Though not always enthused about the intense and obsessive fandom the series brought him, Shatner, who turns 89 this month, did reprise USS Enterprise leader Kirk’s cocky swagger in seven big-screen Star Trek films between 1979 and 1994. The actor also found more TV fame in the cop drama T.J. Hooker (1982-86) and with his Emmy-winning role as attorney Denny Crane in The Practice (1997-2004) and its spinoff, Boston Legal (2004-08) — as well as in countless commercials, voice-overs and cameos. Shatner has also had a music career, and his 2004 album Has Been was especially well received. He recently starred with Jean Smart and Christopher Lloyd in the indie comedy Senior Moment.

Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov)
The Chicago-born Koenig brought back Ensign Chekhov and his over-the-top Russian accent for the first seven Star Trek feature films and has voiced him in a number of Trek-inspired video games. The actor was also later well received by fans in another sci-fi series, Babylon 5, where he had the more antagonistic recurring role of Psi Cop Alfred Bester from 1994-98.

Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
Although he will forever be linked with his iconic, Emmy-nominated role as the logical Vulcan Spock, Nimoy also went on to host the 1970s paranormal investigation series In Search Of… and costarred in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He returned as Spock in the six initial Star Trek feature films and in the first two entries in the reboot of the big-screen franchise in 2009 and 2013. A talented director, Nimoy helmed 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, as well as the hit 1987 comedy Three Men and a Baby. He died in 2015 at the age of 83.

James Doohan (Montgomery “Scotty” Scott)
At conventions in the years after the original series, the Canadian-born Doohan learned to embrace the fandom. He reprised the character in the first six Trek films and in a 1992 guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). Doohan died in 2005 at the age of 85.

Majel Barrett (Christine Chapel)
Remembered as Nurse Chapel, Barrett returned to the character in the first and fourth Trek films. She later recurred as Lwaxana Troi on TNG and Deep Space Nine. Barrett was married to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from 1969 until his death in 1991. She died in 2008 at age 76.

DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy)
Kelley reprised the often-grumpy Bones via voice-over (with much of the other original cast) in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74), and in live action in the first six Star Trek movies as well as for a cameo in the 1987 series premiere of TNG. He died in 1999 at age 79, but, thanks to Kelley’s delivery, two of his character’s Bones-isms live on as among the most popular Star Trek catchphrases: “He’s dead, Jim,” and “I’m a doctor, not a ____” (sometimes misremembered as “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor …”).

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