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Walter Koenig is an actor and writer known chiefly for his role as Mr. Chekov on the 1960s sci-fi hit Star Trek.
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Actor, writer. Born Walter Marvin Koenig on September 14, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. Koenig's acting career spans nearly five decades, with his most notable role being that of Ensign Pavel Chekov, in the television program, Star Trek.
The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Koenig largely grew up in New York City, where he attended public schools before venturing to Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. He then transferred to UCLA where he finished with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Thanks to a supportive professor Koenig, who had dabbled in stage work beginning in high school, enrolled in New York's Neighborhood Playhouse after college, where he eventually earned a scholarship.
Koenig moved from stage acting to television in the early 1960s, beginning with his role on the cast of A Day in Court, a short-lived series that reenacted actual court cases. In 1965, he nearly landed a role on the program Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It was a disappointing loss, but one that was more than made up for a year later when Koenig landed the role of Chekov on the second season of the sci-fi show Star Trek.
Show creator Gene Roddenberry added the character after the Soviet media criticized him for not including a Russian character in the program. Chekov fit seamlessly into the series' storyline, but the larger ratings that Roddenberry had envisioned for the program never materialized. Star Trek was canceled after just three seasons.
Helped by Star Trek's unprecedented popularity following its cancellation, Chekov easily moved on to a host of different projects, including work as a writer on the animated show Land of the Lost.
He also embraced his Star Trek identity, appearing with much of the rest of his former cast members in the film adaptations of the program.
Outside of his Star Trek work, Koenig had a regular role on the sci-fi series, Babylon 5. In all, the actor has appeared in some 40 different television programs and TV movies.
Over the years, Koenig has also proven to be a prolific writer. He was the first of the Trek crew to pen a book about his affiliation with the show. He's written several other books, as well, including Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe. In 1996 he was a finalist at the New York Film Festival Awards for his play, You're Never Alone When You're a Schizophrenic.
In early 2010 Walter Koenig's life was rocked with tragedy when his son, Andrew Koenig, also an actor who had a semi-regular role on the ABC sitcom, Growing Pains, committed suicide. Andrew, whose life had been beset with depression and addictions, was just 41 at the time of his death.
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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 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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