Thursday, 18 December 2008

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry passes away

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and known as the 'First Lady' of Star Trek, sadly passed away earlier today.

Her connection to Star Trek goes right back to the original pilot, The Cage, where she played 'Number One', the first officer of the USS Enterprise. At the behest of the studio, the role was eliminated and Leonard Nimoy's popular character of Mr. Spock was made first officer in the ongoing series. Majel Barrett was moved to the role of Nurse Christine Chapel, whom she played several times over the course of the original series and also voiced in the animated series. She revisited the role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by which time the character had been promoted to full Doctor. She also provided the voice of the Enterprise computer and voiced several other characters in the animated Star Trek series of the mid-1970s.

In 1988 she reappeared in front of the camera in the role of Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role she revisited several times throughout both that series and Deep Space Nine. She became involved closely with Star Trek fandom, often appearing at conventions, and championed attempts by writer Peter David to get his Star Trek novel Imzadi adapted as an episode, which came to nothing. She continued to provide the computer voices on The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Episodes set in the future on Star Trek: Enterprise also featured her voice, making her the sole actor to be involved in every different iteration of the Star Trek franchise to date, a feat that looked set to continue when JJ Abrams asked her to repeat her iconic role for his new film, simply entitled Star Trek, due in May 2009. However, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry's passing came just a few days after this announcement, and it is unclear if she had filmed her lines by this time.

In 1995 she played a key conciliatory move by appearing as the Centauri Lady Morella, the widow of the late Emperor, on Babylon 5, having been asked to personally by J. Michael Straczynski. Barrett-Roddenberry confirmed she was a fan of the show and hoped that other Star Trek fans would check out the 'rival' series after her appearance. For his part, Straczynski admits to having been a huge fan of the original Star Trek and gave her some lines about her husband's legacy that some took as a tribute to Gene Roddenberry as well.

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry was 76 and suffering from complications arising from leukemia when she passed.

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