Walter Koenig Biography

Television Actor, Actor (1936–)
Actor Walter Koenig rose to fame in the 1960s as Mr. Chekov on the television series Star Trek. He has reprised his role in several film adaptations of the show, including Star Trek: The Motion Picture.


Born on September 14, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, actor Walter Koenig grew up in New York City. He started acting in high school. He first attended Grinnell College before transferring to University of California Los Angeles. After college, Koenig studied acting at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse. He landed the part of Pavel Chekov on Star Trek in 1966. Over the years, Koenig has reprised his most famous role in several films, including Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). From 1994 to 1998, he played Alfred Bester on Babylon 5. Koenig has also written several books, including 1988's Warped Factors. He developed the comic book series Things To Come, which debuted in 2011.

Early Life

Actor, writer Walter Koenig was 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. There he attended public schools. Koenig began acting in high school, but he didn't become serious about performing until later. After starting out at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, he then transferred to University of California Los Angeles. Koenig earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.

While he had initially expressed some interest in attending medical school, Koenig changed direction after college. He was encouraged to pursue acting by one of his professors. Returning to New York City, Koenig enrolled at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse to study his craft.

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 Pavel Chekov on the second season of the sci-fi show Star Trek.

'Star Trek'

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry added Koenig's 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. This big screen revival of Star Trek enjoyed a much longer run than the original television series, spanning from 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Star Trek: Generations (1994).

Outside of his Star Trek work, Koenig had a regular role on the sci-fi series Babylon 5 from 1994 to 1998. He got a chance to play against type in the show, portraying a villain this time around. In all, the actor has appeared in some 40 different television programs and TV movies.

Accomplished Writer

In addition to acting, Koenig has shown a knack for writing. He penned the memoir Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe (1988) and shared his behind-the-scenes experiences in Chekov's Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 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 2010, Koenig signed a deal with Bluewater Productions. He agreed to write a futuristic comic book series called Things To Come. As he told, the new series will explore a world where vampires rule the earth. "The one intelligent species that can survive in this post-apocalyptic world are vampires, and they are a bridge from what has gone before, which is this self-destruction of the human race, and what will come after." Through his agreement with Bluewater, Koenig also brought back into print his comic book series Raver from the early 1990s. Raver was released as a graphic novel in 2012.

Personal Life

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, was just 41 at the time of his death.

"He was obviously in a lot of pain," Walter Koenig told reporters.

Walter has been married to his wife, Judy, since 1965. In addition to their late son, the couple has a daughter, actress Danielle Koenig. The Koenigs reside in Los Angeles, California.

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