Grace Lee Whitney dies at 85; played Kirk’s assistant on original ‘Star Trek’ series

Actress Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Janice Rand in the TV science fiction series "Star Trek," circa 1967. Whitney has died at the age of 85.
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Associated Press

Grace Lee Whitney, who played Captain Kirk’s assistant on the original “Star Trek” series, has died. She was 85.

Whitney died of natural causes Friday in her home in the Central California town of Coarsegold, about 50 miles north of Fresno, her son Jonathan Dweck said on Sunday.

Whitney played Yeoman Janice Rand in the first eight episodes before being written out of the series. In her 1998 autobiography “The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy,” she wrote that her acting career largely came to an end and she became an alcoholic.

She wrote that she struggled with her addiction for many years before getting treatment and regaining her career with the help of Leonard Nimoy, who starred as Spock in the series.


She also credited the support of fans for her recovery.

“When I told the fans I was an alcoholic, they all applauded. When I told them I had given myself to a higher power, they cheered again,” Whitney, who appeared at many “Star Trek” conventions, told the Fresno Bee in 2013.

She returned for the movie franchise, reprising her role 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.”

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.

Whitney was born April 1, 1930, in Ann Arbor, Mich. She sang on Detroit radio and had small roles in episodic TV, including “77 Sunset Strip” and “Death Valley Days,” before landing the part on “Star Trek” in 1966.

Her survivors include her two sons, Jonathan and Scott Dweck.