An actress who appeared in just eight episodes of the original “Star Trek” — but made harrowing allegations in a memoir of sexual assault during her tenure — has died at 85.
Grace Lee Whitney — better known as Captain Kirk’s sometime love interest, Yeoman Janice Rand — died of natural causes at her home in California, her son Jonathan Dweck told the Associated Press.
“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,” Dweck said.
In a 1998 book, Whitney said she had high hopes for the show. Born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1930, as NBC reported, she was raised by adoptive parents and in the middle of a divorce when she landed her part on a show she called her “Higher Power.”
“In Yeoman Janice Rand, I had a character of my own to explore and develop, week after week,” she wrote in “The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy” — foreword by Leonard Nimoy. “I was part of something wonderful and exciting, something called Star Trek.”
In a memorable episode — “The Enemy Within,” which aired in 1966 — Whitney had a showdown with Captain Kirk after a transporter malfunction split him into, more or less, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Clad in a red uniform with a short miniskirt, blonde hair in a beehive, Whitney fought off the unwanted affections of Evil Kirk. Kirk: “Don’t fight me, Janice!” Rand: “Call Mr. Spock!”
Whitney, a.k.a. Yeoman Janice Rand, fights Evil Kirk.
While the scene may play like kitsch 50 years later, Whitney made real-life allegations of sexual assault during her brief “Star Trek” career in her memoir. Whitney implicated a TV executive she referred to only as “The Executive.”
“I tried to do what he wanted me to, so I could get it over with,” she wrote. “I knew, deep down inside, that I was finished on Star Trek. At that moment, however, I didn’t care about that. Nothing else mattered – not my tarnished virtue, not my career, not my role on Star Trek. The only thing that mattered was getting out of that room alive.”
In “The Longest Trek,” Whitney said she resisted calls to name the executive. A recovering alcoholic, she said she was “100 percent responsible” for “putting myself in a position where that could happen to me.”
“I have learned that once I take a drink, I lose control over what happens to me,” she wrote. “A lot of women need to learn what I found out the hard way. There are predatory men out there.”
She added: “This book is my story, not his.”
After “Star Trek,” Whitney wrote that she fell into alcoholism.
“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.”
Still, Whitney continued to appear on television and returned as Rand in the first “Star Trek” film, later reprising her role in some of the sequels and TV series. She cited Nimoy as a crucial force in helping restart her career.
“The one person who really reached out to me after I was written out of ‘Star Trek’ was Leonard Nimoy,” she wrote. ” He was the only one who really knew how much I was hurting.”
Whitney’s family wrote that she would rather be thought of as a force for recovery than as just another face on the bridge.
“Grace experienced 35 years of sobriety through continuous fellowship with others and through God and Jesus,” her family said in a statement. She wanted to be remembered as a “successful survivor of addiction,” they said.
William Shatner tweeted his condolences.
“Condolences to the family of Grace,” he wrote. “She was a constant shining smile over the years every time our paths crossed.”