Grace Lee Whitney, who played Captain Kirk’s on / off love interest, Yeoman Janice Rand, has tragically passed away at her home in California. She was 85 years old when she boldly went where all men and women are ultimately destined to go.
Whitney appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series, as well as four feature films - Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home, and The Undiscovered Country. Catch her in action below, starring opposite Shatner as the 'Evil Kirk':
Her co-star offered his sincere condolences over Twitter when he heard the heartbreaking news:
Kirk never forgets his crew members!
After battling with alcoholism for a large part of her life, Whitney's son says she would have liked to be remembered as a 'survivor of addiction,' having generously dedicated the last 35 years of her life to helping others with substance problems, many of whom were fans she met at Star Trek conventions.
Her son Jonathan Dweck spoke about how the groundbreaking sci-fi series came to influence her life:
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.
Those relationships would become vital for the young actress in times of adversity...
Battling Inner Demons
In her 1998 autobiography, 'The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy', Whitney openly discussed the difficulties she faced after being fired from the show.
Eight episodes in to Star Trek: The Original Series her character, Rand, was written out, sending her into a spiral of self-destruction:
I just about killed myself over that reject. And when I would go on interviews, I would smell of alcohol. I was very Lindsay Lohan-ish, very Charlie Sheen. I was lost. I was lost and I began to bottom out.
It took me about 10 years after getting written out to come to my senses when I bottomed out.
One man responsible for her recovery was none other than Leonard Nimoy (a.k.a. Spock), who Whitney says was the "one person who really reached out to me." Nimoy helped sponsor her through a 12-step program that would turn her life around.
"He was the only one who really knew how much I was hurting."
As true Trekkies will no doubt recall, the legendary Nimoy tragically died earlier this year, shortly before producer Harve Bennett also passed. Grace Lee Whitney's death rounds out a sad year indeed for the Enterprise crew.
R.I.P. Grace Lee Whitney.
And to everybody else, live long and prosper.