Thursday, December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry


The First Lady of Star Trek

Barrett's sporadic acting career was dominated by her involvement with the Star Trek franchise. She can be glimpsed in a number of films and television shows, including Westworld and Dr. Kildare, and as a contract player for Desilu Studios, she appeared in the Lucy Show episode in which Lucy dons a kangaroo costume. Her career received a boost when she was cast in Gene Roddenberry's first pilot for Star Trek, called The Cage. Her role as the second in command on the starship Enterprise concerned NBC executives, who were sure audiences would not accept a woman in such a position of authority. When the pilot was completely revamped a few years later, she was demoted to nurse, changed her name, and donned a platinum blond wig. Her recurring role as Christine Chapel occasionally moved center stage, usually in relation to her character's romantic attraction to the inscrutable Mr. Spock.
Barrett's involvement with Star Trek continued well beyond the original series, and as the wife, and later widow, of creator Gene Roddenberry, she remained the caretaker of the "Roddenberry Vision."

On screen, she followed up her stint as Nurse Chapel in the original series with another recurring role in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, that of the flamboyant busybody Lwaxana Troi. Trekkies love her humorous encounters with the stoic Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard.

Barrett can be heard on almost all of the Trek vehicles, including animated and live-action series and features, as the voice of the computer. Before her death this week, she had completed work in that capacity, on the upcoming Star Trek prequel film.

Beam me up, Scotty.

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