As a long-time Star Trek fan who is old enough to have seen and remember the original series when it first aired, I was very surprised to learn that Grace Lee Whitney’s character Yeoman Rand was only in the first eight episodes. Of course, she appeared in most of the original series-based films, but it still was surprising to me because I remember her prominently from the series, so it’s sad to hear that she died this weekend in the town of Coarsegold, California, apparently of natural causes.
Whitney’s claim to fame, of course, was her character in Star Trek, but, according to her family, she prefers to be remembered as a “successful survivor of addition.”
According to her autobiography, “The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy”, after her eight episodes of Star Trek, her acting career was reportedly over and she turned to alcohol. Her struggle with addiction continued for many years before she got treatment and regained her career with the help of Leonard Nimoy, who starred as Spock in the series.
After her recovery, she returned to acting, reprising her role of Janice Rand in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”
But rather than being known for her acting roles, her son Jonathan Dweck, said his mother would have liked to be remembered more as a successful survivor of addiction than for her “Star Trek” fame. She dedicated the last 35 years of her life helping people with addiction problems, some of whom she met at “Star Trek” conventions, he said.
“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.
Besides Jonathan, she was survived by her other son, Scott Dweck.