Actress Grace Lee Whitney, who was most well known for playing Yeoman Janice Rand on the original “Star Trek” series, died May 1 in Coarsegold, Calif. She was 85.
A recovering alcoholic, she helped many people with addiction problems through women’s prisons or the Salvation Army. Her family told NBC News that she would prefer to be remembered more as “a successful survivor of addiction” than for her “Star Trek” fame.
Her death was announced by StarTrek.com, which recounted that she was dropped from the show after the eight first episodes and turned to drugs and alcohol before getting treatment and regaining her career with help from Leonard Nimoy.
Whitney was cast as the personal assistant to William Shatner’s Captain Kirk in the first season of “Star Trek” in 1966. She told StarTrek.com about her character’s crush on Kirk, “It could not be consummated. It had to be love from afar, an unrequited love between the captain and me.”
She returned for the movie franchise starting with 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” with a promotion to chief petty officer, then in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and she was finally promoted to lieutenant in 1991’s “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”
Born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Mich., she started out as a singer and dancer. She guest-starred on numerous other shows of the 1960s and ’70s including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Batman,” “Cannon” and “Hart to Hart.” In 1998, she joined George Takei, Walter Koenig and Majel Barrett for a guest appearance on “Diagnosis Murder.”
In later years she attended “Star Trek” conventions and wrote an autobiography, “The Longest Trek.”