01 May 2011

William Campbell, Star Trek actor dies

It’s an old cliché, really. Actors like to remember for their work, of course, but what they want to be remembered for is usually different than what their fans want. And when they choose to appear in cult TV shows or movies, that is what they usually get remembered for.

Of course, I’m sure no actor who ever guested on “Star Trek” between 1966-69 would ever thought that when they passed from this Earth, that those roles on that cult TV series would be the general lead in their obituaries. William Campbell, who was in Elvis Presley's first film and in the 1950s was married to President Kennedy’s paramour Judith Campbell Exner, has died at the age of 87.

His other film roles included "The High and the Mighty", "Cell 2455 Death Row", "The Naked and the Dead", "Dementia 13" with director Francis Ford Coppola and "Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte."

But in the end, for many actors who worked on certain genre shows, William Campbell will be remembered for his two roles on the original “Star Trek” series. In the first season, he portrayed the mischievous Trelane in “The Squire of Gothos.” Over the decades, many “Trek” fans have speculated this was the first introduction of the Q, a race of omnipotent beings that became part of “The Next Generation”, “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager.” A season later, he played the Klingon Koloth in the highly popular episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Some twenty-seven years later, Campbell returned to play the aging Koloth in the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode “Blood Oath,” one of only a few actors to play roles on the original series and then its spin-offs decades later.

Campbell did various guest shots on TV during the 1970s, but did little work during the 80s, doing a two-part “Quincy M.E.” episode in 1983, a guest shot on a 1985 episode of “Hotel” and “Return of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman” in 1987. He only returned to TV twice in the 90s, the after mentioned “DS9” episode and a shot on a 1996 episode of the syndicated series, ” Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.”

A private man by nature, he rarely made public appearances, but was at the 40th anniversary of “Star Trek” held in Las Vegas in 2006. He died on April 28th after a long battle with cancer.

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