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Actor James Doohan will forever be remembered as the Scottish chief engineer Scotty in the popular science fiction television and film series Star Trek.
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While the original series only ran for three years, Star Trek became hugely popular in syndication. But Doohan felt typecast as he had difficulty landing new roles. Taking on another Star Trek project, he voiced Scotty for an animated version of the show that ran on Saturday mornings from 1973 to 1975. Doohan returned to series television in 1978 as Commander Canarvin in Jason of Star Command, a science fiction adventure program.
Doohan and much of the original television cast had an opportunity to play their Star Trek characters on the big screen. While Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a box office disappointment, its sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) did well—so well in fact that several more sequels followed. Doohan also played Scotty on some of the television sequels as well, including Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In addition to his Star Trek-related projects, Doohan appeared on such shows as Hotel, Fantasy Island, Magnum P.I., and MacGyver. He also had a recurring role on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful in mid-1990s. In 1996, Doohan became an author with the publication of his autobiography, Beam Me Up, Scotty: Star Trek’s “Scotty”—in His Own Words, written with Peter David, and his first work of science fiction, Rising, done in collaboration with S. M. Stirling.
Still Doohan was never too far from Scotty. He was known to appear at numerous Star Trek conventions over the years. While some stars have tried to step away from previous roles, Doohan embraced Scotty and the devoted fans of the series. His agent Steven Stevens told The New York Times that “Some people might think, 'Ugh, that poor guy’s got to sit and sign autographs.’ [Doohan would] have done it for free.”
In his later years, Doohan's health began to decline. He developed Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and lung fibrosis. Around 2004, Doohan was also experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s as his short-term memory began to deteriorate. He was, however, able to attend the ceremony held in his honor as he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 31, 2004.
On July 20, 2005, Doohan died at his home in Redmond, Washington. He was survived by third wife Wende, their three children, sons Eric and Thomas and daughter Sarah who was only five years old at the time. Doohan also had four adult children from his first marriage, Larkin, Deidre, Chris and Montgomery as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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Learn more about the stars of the wildly popular Star Trek television and film franchise. Created by Gene Roddenberry in the early 1960s, this otherworldly series debuted on the small screen in '66 and has since seen dozens of installments, most recently the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Chris Hemsworth and Zachary Quinto. Learn more about other cast members of the franchise, including William Shatner, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, George Takei, Kirstie Alley and Winona Ryder. Who knows, you might even discover your inner-Trekkie.
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