Original 'Star Trek' cast member Grace Lee Whitney dead at 85
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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/5/2015 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
One of the original cast members of the original "Star Trek" TV series, Grace Lee Whitney has passed away at the age of 85. Playing Yeoman Janice Rand, Whitney portrayed a beautiful woman who could be tough when she had to be. All-too earthbound problems such as substance abuse hindered her career, but Whitney came out fighting, devoting her life to helping others.
Grace Lee Whitney Whitney was described as "one of 'Star Trek's' greatest cautionary tales and also one of the franchise's most satisfying renaissance stories."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Whitney was described as "one of 'Star Trek's' greatest cautionary tales and also one of the franchise's most satisfying renaissance stories." Written out of the show in its first season, she struggled with alcohol and drug problems before finding recovery, Whitney reprised the Rand role in the "Star Trek" films.
A singer and dancer from Detroit, Whitney worked on Broadway and had a number of small roles in movies and TV series, including "The Real McCoys," "Hawaiian Eye" and "77 Sunset Strip," before being cast as Rand for "Trek's" debut season in 1966. The character was essentially an assistant to William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk.
Whitney confessed to a British tabloid that she had been hooked on diet pills trying to stay thin. She also had problems with alcohol, although she said that her drinking was not that serious while doing the show.
She lasted only eight episodes on "Trek" before being let go.
"I just about killed myself over that reject. And when I would go on interviews, I would smell of alcohol. I was very Lindsay Lohan-ish, very Charlie Sheen. I was lost. I was lost and I began to bottom out," she told startrek.com in 2011. "It took me about 10 years after getting written out to come to my senses when I bottomed out."
She eventually got help while on Los Angeles' Skid Row, getting into a 12-step program. It turned her life around. Leonard Nimoy, "Trek's" Spock, who had his own battles with alcohol, was one of her supporters.
"Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry put her in the movies, just going into production, and she appeared in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," as well as the third, fourth and sixth entries in the series.
Whitney later appeared on the TV series "Star Trek: Voyager" where she had been promoted to Commander Janice Rand.
Her focus by then was on helping others who battled addiction. Whitney wrote a 1998 memoir, "The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy," about her experiences.
Towards the end of her life, Whitney had found happiness. "Right now I take my grandchildren to school and cart them around, and I'm of maximum service to them," she said in an interview. "I also line dance one night a week and I go to the gym three days a week. So, my life is happy, joyous, free, sober and saved, and a lot of fun, too. I have a lot of fun."
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