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Michael Ansara, Kang on ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 91

Michael Ansara, perhaps best known for his role as Kang on “Star Trek,” died in his Calabasas, Calif. home on July 31 following a prolonged illness. He was 91.

Ansara played the Klingon commander on three different “Star Trek” TV series: the original “Star Trek” (1968), “Deep Space Nine” (1994) and “Voyager” (1996). He is beloved by fans of the franchise for being one of just seven actors to play the same character on three versions of the skein.

Ansara is also remembered for his starring role of  the Chiricahua Apache chief Cochise on the TV series “Broken Arrow.” The popular series was considered groundbreaking when it premiered in 1958, as it was one of few westerns to portray Native Americans in a positive light.

Despite being of Syrian descent, Ansara continued to be cast in Native American roles. He played another Apache, Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart, on the Peacock’s 1959 series “Law of the Plainsman.” His Buckhart character was again introduced in two episodes of another western at the Alphabet, “The Rifleman.”

“After that series I went two years without working at all,” Ansara remembered in a 1979 interview. “If you play one thing [in his case, a Native American], and you play it well, they would type you, and it would be difficult to get other roles.”

Ansara also played major roles in such films as 1953’s “Julius Caesar” and “The Robe,” 1955’s “Jupiter’s Darling” with Esther Williams; 1961’s “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (he also appeared in the spin-off TV series) and “The Comancheros” with John Wayne; “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965); “Guns of the Magnificent Seven” (1969); “The Bears and I” (1974); “The Message” (1977); and “It’s Alive” (1974).

Born in Syria, Ansara came to the U.S. with his American parents at the age of 2. When he attended Los Angeles City College he had intentions of becoming a doctor, but a foray into the drama department stole his attention.

Ansara went on to work at the Pasadena Playhouse, where his fellow students included Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones and Aaron Spelling, before going on to lead roles on stage and screen.

Ansara’s many TV appearances also included “The Untouchables,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Perry Mason,” “The Outer Limits,” “Lost in Space,” “I Dream of Jeannie” (with his then wife, Barbara Eden) and “Hawaii Five-0”. He also voiced the part of Mr. Freeze on the animated “Batman” series.

Ansara was married to “I Dream of Jeannie’s” Barbara Eden from 1958-1974. Together, they had a son, Michael Matthew Ansara. The junior Ansara, also an actor, died in 2001 of an accidental heroin overdose. He was 35.

Ansara is survived by Beverly, his wife of 36 years, his sister, Rose Browers, niece Michelle Browers Lamey and nephew Michael John Browers.

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