Monday, February 23, 2015

Ship's Sensors Detect A Day of Birth

Nurse Chapel

Ohio has produced 24 NASA astronauts including Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik. Resnik was even recruited into the astronaut program in 1978 by Star Trek actress Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols who headed a project to attract women and minorities to the agency.
Ohio is also the birthplace of Cleveland native Majel Barrett on February 23rd 1932. So happy birthday!
Who?
Spock denies Nurse Chapel's interface attempts
While not having the direct influence or notoriety as Nichols, Majel was involved in nearly every single incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. Nicknamed "the First Lady of Star Trek" she is best known as the iconic female computer voice in five Star Trek series' and several of the movies including the 2009 reboot. She also portrayed several recurring onscreen TV characters such as Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series (promoted to Dr. Chapel in the movies) and lusty Betazoid Ambassador Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

Hello Nurse!
Thanks to Gene Roddenberry's progressive visions of the future, her first Star Trek gig was in the 1964 pilot The Cage as Number One, the ship's first officer. NBC network executives thought Mr. Spock the alien science officer was too demonic looking and they didn't care for a woman playing such an uppity lead role. In 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, Americans weren't quite ready for strong female roles on TV or in real life. Roddenberry was pressured to give the first officer spot to the now half alien, less demonic looking man and demote the Earth woman to a more suitable role for the 23rd century. A sexy blonde nurse. Because it was really 1964 America. I suppose the show would have been much different without the misogyny but...wow. It wasn't that long ago. Interestingly, Chapel's unrequited love for the mostly emotionless alien Mr. Spock would become a plot subject in the series. I guess by the end of the 60s, the network censors were okay with a little inter-species mind noodling, and Chapel even carried Spock's essence once.  I've learned this relationship has become the subject of some tawdry fan-fiction. Google it. I try to keep it PG-13 here.

Gene and Majel in the 80s on set
When the first series ended in 1969, Majel married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Besides her Star Trek work she produced and played roles in other science fiction shows such as Andromeda and Babylon 5 as well as doing voice overs for animation and video games.
Gene died in 1991, Majel in 2008 and their ashes will be launched into space by the company Celestis in 2016. The space burial will include among others, fellow Star Trek co-star James "Scotty" Doohan who died in 2005.
Not a bad legacy for someone who's college dream was to become a legal clerk.

other sources:
-Majel Barrett Bio on roddenberry.com
- IMDB.com
-MemoryAlpha

1 comment:

  1. Sadly Leonard Nimoy passed away from lung disease 4 days after this post on February 27th 2015. LLAP.

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