Actor William Campbell, who had two separate but equally memorable roles on episodes of the original “Star Trek” series, appeared in Elvis Presley’s first film and was married in the 1950s to Judith Campbell Exner, later the lover of John F. Kennedy, died Thursday of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Fund hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 87.
In the “Star Trek” episode “The Squire of Gothos,” he played an immature and rather effeminate alien who has studied Earth from afar, grown fond of the music and décor and seeks out the Enterprise crew – but alas, he has mistakenly assumed that the baroque trappings of the 17th century still hold sway. Disappointment leads to violence. The part in some ways parodied Liberace, whom Campbell resembled.
In the other, even more famous episode, Campbell played the Klingon captain beset by adorable furballs who hate Klingons in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” He reprised the latter role in a 1994 episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Campbell began his film career in 1950’s “The Breaking Point” and sang with Presley in 1956’s “Love Me Tender.” Other notable pics in which he appeared included 1954’s “The High and the Mighty,” “Cell 2455 Death Row” in 1955, 1958’s “The Naked and the Dead” and “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte” in 1964.
He had a starring role in the syndicated 1958-59 series “Cannonball” and guested on “Perry Mason,” among other shows.
In 1963 Campbell starred in the low-budget horror film “Dementia 13,” directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola. That pic and the bizarre, somewhat incoherent, Roger Corman-produced film “Blood Bath,” or “Track of the Vampire,” both developed cult followings.
Born in Newark, N.J., Campbell served in the Pacific with the Navy during WWII. He and Exner were married in 1952 and divorced in 1958. She died in 1999.
Campbell attended a number of “Star Trek” conventions, making his last such appearance in 2006.
He worked for the Motion Picture & Television Fund for many years both during and after his acting career, serving as its chief fund-raiser for a time.
Campbell is survived by his third wife, Tereza.