Sunday, December 21, 2008

Majel Barrett, RIP

I'm a few days late with this, but I did want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Majel Barrett, better known as Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Barrett, considered by many to be the "First Lady" of Trek, was one of the few people remaining who'd been present for the creation, appearing in the very first Star Trek episode, the rejected 1965 pilot "The Cage," as Enterprise x-o Number One under Jeffrey Hunter's Captain Christopher Pike.

Though her character didn't carry over to the Shatnerized version of the show that made it to air, she did have a recurring role as Nurse Christine Chapel on the series, as well as providing the voice for the Enterprise's shipboard computer. The latter role was one that she continued to play in subsequent decades through subsequent installments of the franchise, in addition to continuing to appear onscreen. In fact, Barrett has the unique distinction of performing in every version of Star Trek to date, be it film, television, or animation.

It had been announced a few weeks ago that she would be reprising the Enterprise computer voice for the upcoming Abrams flick, giving the new film another valuable link to the past (in addition to Leonard Nimoy's reprisal of Spock), and my understanding is that she had completed her work on the film before succumbing to leukemia this past Thursday. Her voice provided a welcome sense of continuity in a franchise that literally spanned generations, and her absence in future voyages will be leave a considerable void.

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