(written from a Production point of view)
|Grace Lee Whitney|
|Birth name:||Mary Ann Chase|
|Date of birth:||1 April 1930|
|Place of birth:||Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA|
Grace Lee Whitney (born 1 April 1930; age 85) is is an American actress and entertainer who is best known for her portrayal of Yeoman Janice Rand in Star Trek: The Original Series. Her character was originally intended to be a major part of the series, however, she was written out after eight episodes. Whitney returned to the role for several cameo appearances in subsequent Star Trek movies, and featured in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback". She has retained an active interest in Star Trek fandom, appearing in several fan films.
Born Mary Ann Chase, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she was adopted by the Whitney family who named her Grace Elaine Whitney. She became a prolific actress in the 1950s and 1960s, debuting on the Broadway stage in "Top Banana" before going on to appear in the 1954 motion picture of the same name. She worked with Jeffrey Hunter in the film The Man from Galveston (1963). Whitney guested on several well-known television series including Bewitched, Batman, "Cimmaron Strip", "The Virginian", Mannix, and Gene Roddenberry's own Police Story, co-starring DeForest Kelley. She also appeared alongside her TOS co-star George Takei in a 1998 episode of Diagnosis: Murder.
Intended to appear in far more episodes than she ultimately did, Whitney's Yeoman Rand was written out of several episodes, and ultimately dropped from the series after eight episodes. The exact reason for Whitney's dismissal is uncertain; her struggle with alcohol and use of diet pills are sometimes cited as causes, while creator Gene Roddenberry's biography suggests that her departure was simply a budget cutback. In her autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, Whitney describes an incident in which she was sexually assaulted by an executive of the Star Trek production team, who is not identified by name, and she drew a link between this incident and her sacking a few days later, but afterwards states her role was going to be eliminated in any case. Her last appearance was in the background of the episode, "The Conscience of the King", with her character replaced by Dr. Helen Noel in "Dagger of the Mind". According to Inside Star Trek, Whitney slid deeper into alcohol addiction after being fired from the show. Speaking of her termination from the series, Whitney stated, "they wanted William Shatner to have romances in each episode with a different person, because for him to be stuck with one woman was not good for him and it wasn't good for the audience. That's what they told me, so I was written out. There were two blonde girls and one black girl. Nichelle was a more important character and couldn't be written out. Everything's political in America. One of the blondes had to go. The other one was engaged to the boss, so guess who went? I just about killed myself. I drank, that's what we do, we drink to get rid of pain. I was really mad. My God, was I bitter." Roddenberry later apologized for the dismissal and said it was the "dumbest mistake" he ever made.
Whitney enjoyed appearing in the Star Trek films that involved her. She said of her casting in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, "It gave me a feeling as if I had turned back my life ten years." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 55)
Whitney began her recovery in the 1980s and has gone on to appear in many more Star Trek productions, most recently the 2007 fan film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men and the Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time" (2007), in which she appeared alongside George Takei, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, James Cawley, Jeffery Quinn, and John Carrigan. The episode was directed by Marc Scott Zicree, written by Zicree and Michael Reaves, and stunt coordinated by Leslie Hoffman.
Star Trek appearances
- Star Trek movies:
- VOY: "Flashback"