Grace Lee Whitney: The ‘Star Trek’ red shirt who went the distance


Grace Lee Whitney, who died at age 85 Friday in her home in Coarsegold, Calif., was a "Star Trek" anomaly. She was a red shirt who survived.

Red shirts on "Star Trek" were notoriously expendable — the often unnamed crew members who went on missions with Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock and the others and were often killed off quickly in order to demonstrate the threat level Kirk and the others faced.

But Whitney, as Yeoman Janice Rand, wasn't just a one-episode wonder. She appeared in eight episodes of the show's first season and then made a comeback in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," "Star Trek IV" and even as a guest star in the TV series "Star Trek: Voyager."

Her first appearance to fans was in the first episode of the series, "The Man Trap," which revealed her to have enough personality to turn crew members' heads. At this early point in the show, she could have easily joined Sulu, Chekhov and the rest as another member of the core "Trek" cast.

The potential chemistry between Kirk and Rand developed in disturbing ways in the show's fifth episode, "The Enemy Within," in which Rand was nearly raped by the "evil" half of Kirk. Once again, Rand deftly held her own against Kirk even in an unnaturally aggressive state.

Whitney's final appearance as Rand came in the 13th episode of Season 1, "The Conscience of the King." In an interview years later, Whitney said she was written out of the series in order to give Kirk more room to have romantic partners. Appropriately, Rand's final scene in the series showed her throwing some major shade at another blond potential love interest for Kirk.

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