Grace Lee Whitney

Last updated
Grace Lee Whitney
Grace lee whitney 1980.jpg
Grace Lee Whitney at a Star Trek convention (circa 1980)
Born
Mary Ann Chase

(1930-04-01)April 1, 1930
DiedMay 1, 2015(2015-05-01) (aged 85)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1947–2007
Spouse(s)
  • Sydney Stevan Dweck
    (m. 1954;div. 1966)
  • Jack Dale
    (m. 1970;div. 1991)
Children2

Grace Lee Whitney (April 1, 1930 – May 1, 2015) was an American actress and singer. She was known for her role as Janice Rand on the original Star Trek television series and subsequent Star Trek television series and films. [1] [2]

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, gazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

Janice Rand is a fictional character in the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Original Series during its first season, as well as three of the Star Trek films. She is the Captain's yeoman on board the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), and first appeared in the episode "The Man Trap". She had significant roles in the episodes "The Enemy Within", where she fights off an evil version of Captain James T. Kirk; "Charlie X" where a young man with god-like powers falls in love with her; and "Miri" where she is infected with a deadly disease while on an away mission and is kidnapped by jealous children.

Contents

Early life

Whitney was born Mary Ann Chase on April 1, 1930, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was adopted by the Whitney family, who changed her name to Grace Elaine. She started her entertainment career as a "girl singer" on Detroit's WJR radio at the age of fourteen. After she left home, she began to call herself Lee Whitney, eventually becoming known as Grace Lee Whitney. In her late teens, she moved to Chicago where she opened in nightclubs for Billie Holiday and Buddy Rich, and toured with the Spike Jones and Fred Waring Bands. [1]

Ann Arbor, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census recorded its population to be 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan.

Detroit Largest city in Michigan

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

WJR clear-channel news/talk radio station in Detroit

WJR is a radio station in Detroit, Michigan, United States. It is owned by Cumulus Media and broadcasts a News/Talk format. Its studios are located in the Fisher Building in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit, while its transmitter is located in the Downriver community of Riverview.

Star Trek

Star Trek television show

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry cast Whitney in the role of Yeoman Janice Rand, the personal assistant to Captain James T. Kirk, in 1966. Whitney said: "I was on diet pills trying to stay thin—and I was very thin. They wanted you to fit into the uniforms and I couldn't quite so I went on amphetamines." [3] Whitney appeared in eight of the first fifteen episodes, after which she was released from contract. She had claimed that, while still under contract, she was sexually assaulted by an executive associated with the series. [4] Later, in a public interview, she stated that Leonard Nimoy had been her main source of support during that time. She went into more details about the assault in her book The Longest Trek, but refused to name the executive, saying in the book, "This is my story, not his." [1]

Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. It later acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began.

Gene Roddenberry American television screenwriter and producer

Eugene Wesley Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and creator of the original Star Trek television series, and its first spin-off The Next Generation. Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, where his father was a police officer. Roddenberry flew 89 combat missions in the Army Air Forces during World War II, and worked as a commercial pilot after the war. Later, he followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Los Angeles Police Department, where he also began to write scripts for television.

James T. Kirk Character in the Star Trek media franchise

James Tiberius "Jim" Kirk is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise. Kirk first appears in Star Trek: The Original Series and has been portrayed in numerous films, books, comics, webisodes, and video games. As the captain of the starship USS Enterprise, Kirk leads his crew as they explore new worlds, new civilizations, and "boldly go where no man has gone before". Often, the characters of Spock and Leonard McCoy act as his logical and emotional sounding boards, respectively.

In a later interview, she said of her termination from the series:

They wanted William Shatner to have romances in each episode with a different person, because for him to be stuck with one woman was not good for him and it wasn't good for the audience. That's what they told me, so I was written out. There were two blond girls and one black girl. Nichelle was a more important character and couldn't be written out. Everything's political in America. One of the blondes had to go. The other one was engaged to the boss, so guess who went? I just about killed myself. I drank, that's what we do, we drink to get rid of pain. I was really mad. My God, was I bitter. [3]

William Shatner Canadian actor, musician, recording artist, author and film director

William Shatner, is a Canadian actor, author, producer, director, and singer. In his seven decades of television, Shatner became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk and being a part of Star Trek, and has co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe. He has also written a series of science fiction novels called TekWar that were adapted for television.

Nichelle Nichols American actress

Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer, and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Nichols played communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek television series (1966–1969), as well as the succeeding motion pictures. Nichols's role was groundbreaking as a future role-model for African American female characters on American television. She also worked to recruit diverse astronauts to NASA, including women and ethnic minorities.

Majel Barrett American actress and producer

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry was an American actress and producer. She was best known for her roles as Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek series and Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as for being the voice of most onboard computer interfaces throughout the series. She became the second wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Star Trek films

Whitney posing with a Star Trek prop at a science fiction convention, 1975 Grace lee whitney sfcon.jpg
Whitney posing with a Star Trek prop at a science fiction convention, 1975

Whitney returned to the Star Trek franchise in the 1970s after DeForest Kelley saw Whitney on the unemployment line and told her that fans had been asking for her at fan conventions. [5]

DeForest Kelley American actor

Jackson DeForest Kelley, known to colleagues as "De", was an American actor, screenwriter, poet and singer known for his roles in Westerns and as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the USS Enterprise in the television and film series Star Trek (1966–1991).

Whitney reprised her role as Janice Rand, who had received a promotion to chief petty officer in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). She also appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), with another promotion, as Lieutenant Commander Janice Rand. Five years later, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise, she returned in the 1996 Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback", along with George Takei. She reprised her role in two internet Star Trek episodes: "Star Trek: New Voyages" and "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men". "New Voyages" premiered on August 24, 2007, while "Of Gods and Men" made its debut in late 2007. The fifth episode of Star Trek Continues , "Divided We Stand" (released 26 September 2015), was dedicated to her "lovely and endearing spirit".

A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.

<i>Star Trek: The Motion Picture</i> 1979 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise and based on the television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, who also served as its producer. It is the first installment in the Star Trek film series, and stars the cast of the original television series. In the film, a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud known as V'Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path. Admiral James T. Kirk assumes command of the recently refitted Starship USS Enterprise, to lead it on a mission to save the planet and determine V'Ger's origins.

<i>Star Trek III: The Search for Spock</i> 1984 American science fiction film directed by Leonard Nimoy

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a 1984 American science fiction film directed by Leonard Nimoy and based on the television series Star Trek. It is the third film in the Star Trek film series, and is the second part of a three-film story arc that begins with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and concludes with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). After the death of Spock (Nimoy), the crew of the USS Enterprise returns to Earth. When James T. Kirk learns that Spock's spirit, or katra, is held in the mind of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Kirk and company steal the Enterprise to return Spock's body to his homeworld. The crew must also contend with hostile Klingons led by Kruge who are bent on stealing the secrets of a powerful terraforming device.

Career

Theater

Whitney debuted on Broadway in Top Banana , with Phil Silvers and Kaye Ballard, playing Miss Holland. Following the successful run of the show, she joined the cast in Hollywood, where she recreated the role in the 1954 movie of the same name. While in Los Angeles, Whitney auditioned for and was cast in the starring role of Lucy Brown in the national tour of The Threepenny Opera , taking over the role from Bea Arthur, who had played the part in New York off-Broadway.[ citation needed ]

Film highlights

Whitney was cast as a member of the all-female band in Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot (1959). She shared several scenes with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, including the famed "upper berth" sequence. She had uncredited roles in House of Wax (1953), Top Banana (1954), The Naked and the Dead (1958), and Pocketful of Miracles (1961). Whitney was credited as Tracey Phillips in the drama A Public Affair (1962), and as Texas Rose in the western The Man from Galveston (1963). Billy Wilder then gave her the featured role of "Kiki the Cossack" in Irma la Douce (1963).

Television

Whitney made more than a hundred television appearances following her television dramatic debut in Cowboy G-Men in 1953. She appeared on episodes of The Real McCoys , Wagon Train , The Islanders , Hennesey , The Roaring 20s , Gunsmoke , Bat Masterson , The Rifleman , 77 Sunset Strip , Bewitched , Mike Hammer , Batman , The Untouchables , and Hawaiian Eye .

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Whitney was a frequent semi-regular on between 80 and 100 live television shows including You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx in 1953, The Red Skelton Show, The Jimmy Durante Show and The Ernie Kovacs Show, largely appearing in gag sketches. [1] From 1957 to 1958, she appeared as a "Vanna-type adornment" on the popular daytime show Queen for a Day . [1]

Other appearances included an episode of The Outer Limits , "Controlled Experiment", co-starring Barry Morse and Carroll O'Connor, Mannix , Death Valley Days , The Big Valley , and The Virginian . In 1962, she appeared in the episode of The Rifleman entitled "The Tin Horn". In 1964, she played the Marilyn Monroe lookalike character Babs Livingston on Bewitched in the episode "It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog". [1]

Whitney played the historical figure Nellie Cashman, then a restaurateur, in the 1969 episode, "The Angel of Tombstone" of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days , hosted by Robert Taylor not long before his death. In the story line, Cashman and several men from Tombstone, Arizona, travel to Baja California in search of gold found by a Mexican prospector. On reaching the site, Cashman learns how a Catholic mission has been quietly financing its charitable work. Gregg Barton, Tris Coffin, and Joaquin Martinez also guest starred in this episode.

Her roles in the 1970s included The Bold Ones , Cannon , and Hart to Hart . In 1983, she had a small part in the television film The Kid with the 200 I.Q. , with Gary Coleman. In 1998, she appeared in an episode of Diagnosis: Murder , which reunited her with her old Star Trek cast-mates George Takei, Walter Koenig and Majel Barrett Roddenberry.

Music

Whitney at the first Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Awards, December 5, 1976. Grace Lee Whitney 1976.jpg
Whitney at the first Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Awards, December 5, 1976.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Whitney sang with a number of orchestras and bands, including the Keith Williams Orchestra. Later, she concentrated on jazz/pop vocalizing while fronting for the band Star. In the 1970s, with her then-husband, Jack Dale, she wrote a number of Star Trek-related songs. A 45 rpm record was released in 1976 with the songs "Disco Trekkin’" (A side) and "Star Child" (B side). She recorded such tunes as "Charlie X", "Miri", "Enemy Within" and "USS Enterprise". Many of these songs were released in the 1990s on cassette tape: Light at the End of the Tunnel in 1996 and Yeoman Rand Sings! in 1999.[ citation needed ]

Writing

Whitney's autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, was released in 1998 ( ISBN   1-884956-05-X). Along with her hiring and firing from Star Trek, the book recounts her work as the first Chicken of the Sea mermaid as well as her struggles with and eventual recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. [6]

Personal life and death

Whitney had two sons, Scott and Jonathan Dweck. [7] She moved to Coarsegold, California, in 1993 to be close to Jonathan, and she “continued her fellowship work in Fresno and Madera [counties], completely dedicating her life to helping herself and others find daily sobriety and a higher power out of addiction.” [8] Jonathan Dweck said his mother wanted to be known more as a survivor of addiction than as a Star Trek cast member. [2]

Whitney died of natural causes at her home in Coarsegold on May 1, 2015. She was 85 years old. [9]

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1954 Top Banana Miss HollandUncredited
1958 The Naked and the Dead Girl in Dream SequenceUncredited
1959 Some Like It Hot RosellaUncredited
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Queenie's 'Broad' in Black DressUncredited
1962A Public AffairTracey Phillips
1963 Critic's Choice Minor role
1963 The Man from Galveston Texas RoseTV Series, 1 episode
1963 Irma la Douce Kiki the Cossack
1964 Controlled Experiment Carla DuveenOnly comedy episode of The Outer Limits
1966 Star Trek Yeoman Janice Rand TV Series, 8 episodes
1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture
1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Woman in Cafeteria
1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Lt. Commander Janice Rand
1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
1996 Star Trek: Voyager TV Series, 1 episode
2007 Star Trek: New Voyages web series, 1 episode
2007 Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (final film role)

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Whitney, Grace Lee; Denney, Jim (1998). The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy (1 ed.). Linden Publishing. pp. 35–36, 39, 51. ISBN   1884956033.
  2. 1 2 "'Star Trek' actress Grace Lee Whitney dies at 85". Los Angeles Times . Associated Press. May 4, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  3. 1 2 Cox, Emma (May 2, 2009). "Star Trek, Jim, but not as we know it". The Sun .
  4. Moyer, Justin Wm. (May 4, 2015). "Actress Grace Lee Whitney who alleged sexual assault by TV executive, dead at 85". Washington Post . Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  5. Rioux, Terry Lee (2005). From sawdust to stardust: the biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy. Simon and Schuster. p. 218. ISBN   0-7434-5762-5.
  6. Whitney, Grace Lee; Denney, Jim (1998). The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy. Foreword by Leonard Nimoy. Clovis, CA: Quill Driver Books. p. 36. ISBN   978-1884956034.
  7. Staff, AP (May 4, 2015). "Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Janice Rand on 'Star Trek', Dies at 85". The New York Times . Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  8. Staff (May 3, 2015). "Grace Lee Whitney, original Star Trek cast member, dies in Coarsegold". The Fresno Bee . Archived from the original on May 7, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  9. Staff (May 4, 2015). "Star Trek Actress Grace Lee Whitney Dies at 85". ABC News. Associated Press . Retrieved May 4, 2015.