These posts are always unfortunate. Following the sad loss of Leonard Nimoy in February we now lose another of the venerable crew of the starship Enterprise. The beautiful Grace Lee Whitney (1930-2015) portrayed Yeoman Janice Rand for eight episodes in Season One of Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969), arguably the best and most important season in Star Trek franchise history. Her grace and special presence was felt in a number of classics including Miri, Charlie X and The Enemy Within.
Though her role was small in the big picture, hers was indeed memorable. As supporting characters go, Whitney's Rand was significant to the series history.
Whitney penned her own biography on her journey with The Longest Trek: My Tour Of The Galaxy (1998). Ironically, Nimoy wrote the foreword for her book. In fact, Nimoy was a strong supporter of Whitney during her time on Star Trek and remained a friend.
It's very sad to see these icons from our youth pass. Where does the time go? My gosh Whitney was 85.
Whitney was quite hurt following her termination from ST:TOS. She had such a magnanimous spirit about her role in the series too. In a 2009 interview with The Sun Whitney offered this of that period in her life that resulted in substance abuse.
"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."
On a minor footnote, Whitney also starred alongside actors Carroll O'Connor and Space 1999's Barry Morse in The Outer Limits' Controlled Experiment (1964).
Later, Whitney found redemption returning to the Star Trek film franchise and the convention circuit as a popular favorite among fans of the series. She also returned as Rand in Star Trek: Voyager for the episode Flashback (1996). She was a well-recognized, spunky survivor from the inaugural year of Star Trek. And so we are sorry to lose another one to the stars.