Grace Lee Whitney, remembered for her role as Yeoman Janice Rand on “Star Trek,” passed away Friday of natural causes at her home in Coarsegold, California. She was 85.
She appeared as Captain Kirk’s assistant and love interest in just eight of the first 13 episodes of the original series before being released from her contract. In her 1998 memoir “The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy,” Whitney alleged she was sexually assaulted during her brief stint by unnamed executive associated with the show.
With her character written out of the series, purportedly because producers didn’t want Kirk tied to just one woman, and her career seemingly at an end, Whitney became an alcoholic. “I ran away from everything,” she wrote. “I hid from everything. The pain was so intense, I wanted to check out. I wanted to die, so I tried to drink myself to death.”
However, Whitney wasn’t finished with “Star Trek” — or perhaps it was the other way around. She credited co-star Leonard Nimoy, who wrote the introduction to her memoir, with helping her to get her career back on track. And the rise of fan conventions in the 1970s kept her linked to Trekkies.
Whitney made cameos as Janice Rand in four “Star Trek” films, and appeared alongside George Takei in a 1996 episode of “Star Trek: Voyager.” More recently, she reprised her role in episodes of the online fan series “Star Trek: New Voyages” and “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.”
“Over time, she became appreciative of her short time on ‘Star Trek’ because she developed meaningful relationships with the fans, Leonard Nimoy and other cast members,” recalled her son Jonathan Dweck.
Despite her close connection to “Star Trek” and its fandom, Whitney’s family asked Sunday that she be remembered as a “successful survivor of addiction.” She devoted the past 35 years to helping others struggling with addiction problems, some of whom she met at conventions.
“Grace experienced 35 years of sobriety through continuous fellowship with others and through God and Jesus,” her family said.
William Shatner tweeted the following statement about Whitney’s death: “Condolences to the family of Grace. She was a constant shining smile over the years every time our paths crossed.”
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