Friday, December 19, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, 76, dies of Leukemia

Majel B. Roddenberry, wife of 'Star Trek' creator, dies
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and an actress whose longtime association with the "Star Trek" franchise included playing Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, died early Thursday morning. She was 76.

Roddenberry died at her home in Bel-Air after a battle with leukemia, said family spokesman Sean Rossall.

"She was a valiant lady," Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on "Star Trek," told The Times. "She worked hard, she was straightforward, she was dedicated to 'Star Trek' and Gene, and a lot of people thought very highly of her."


Roddenberry, whose pre-"Star Trek" acting career included guest appearances on series such as "The Untouchables" and "The Lucy Show," had no idea she was establishing a career path in science fiction when she took her first "Star Trek" role.

"Not at all," she said in a 2002 interview with the Tulsa World. "I certainly didn't have any idea that I'd be doing it this long, for so many different shows and films -- especially as a product of a series that was a flop. The original was only on for three years. It wasn't considered a success by anyone's standards."

The show took off as a pop-culture phenomenon after it went into syndication, however, and Roddenberry, who was married to Gene Roddenberry from 1969 until his death in 1991, attended her first "Star Trek" convention in 1972.

"You know, when the conventions started out, I'd attend four or five a month," she said in the 2002 interview. "But after a while, it got where there was no time for anything else. You'd just travel from city to city, making the same speech, answering the same questions."

Rossall said both Gene and Majel Roddenberry maintained warm relationships with "Star Trek" fans. And as late as August, he said, Majel Roddenberry attended a "Star Trek" convention in Las Vegas.

As she told the Buffalo City News in 1998, "It's been a hell of a ride." [...]

I didn't even know she was ill. I think she enjoyed her life, she had a lot of fans.

Star Trek Universe Loses Majel Barrett Roddenberry
[...] Majel Barrett Roddenberry reprised Nurse Chapel for brief appearances in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture and 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. She played the recurring role of Counselor Deanna Troi's mother on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Gene Roddenberry died in 1991 at the age of 70.

After his passing, Majel Barrett Roddenberry helped bring alive one of his pet projects in the form of the 1997-2002 series Earth: Final Conflict but said she had nothing to do with running the at-times-flailing Trek ship.

"Gene sold out all of his rights to Star Trek way back 15, almost 20 years ago," she told in 2000. "So, they ask nothing. I volunteer nothing. They invite me to a few of their shindigs. I'll bet you I haven't been on that lot in two years."

Still, Roddenberry welcomed the recent digital remastering of the original series and Abrams' theatrical take, seeing them as validations of her husband's legacy.

"What's nice is you know a Star Trek movie is still one that everybody wants," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2006.

In a statement today on, her son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr., said his mother appreciated the role fans played in keeping the Trek franchise running for 40-plus years.

"It was her love for the fans, and their love in return," he said, "that kept her going for so long after my father passed away."

You can read her biography at The internet movie data base.

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry - RIP



Gayle said...

I hated to tell my husband about this, Chas. He loves Star Trek and has watched it for what seems like forever!

Thanks for the congratulations you left on my post. I appreciate it.


Chas said...

I liked the Original Star Trek show, and the new one in the 80's was great in the beginning, but got kinda politically correct and stale towards the end. The spin-off shows that came later would have an occasional well written episode, but mostly suffered from uninspired scripts and political correctness.

I discovered while putting this post together that Gene Roddenberry never had %100 creative control over Star Trek, and wasn't happy with the way it turned out. Years ago he sold away all his rights to it. That might explain why the later shows and movies seem like they were written by a committee.

Maybe someday someone will breath new inspiration into the concept. The new movie next year may be interesting. I read that Majel Barret recorded her voice for the movie as the Enterprise computer's voice, just days before she passed away. Don't know if it's true, we'll see. Her passing seems so sudden, many people didn't even know she had been ill. The fans loved her. May she R.I.P.

On a happier note, Best Wishes to you and Walt for a Merry Christmas!

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