Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Oh no, James "Scotty" Doohan dies at 85

Filed under
Obits

Doohan died at 5:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) at his Redmond, Washington, home with his wife of 28 years, Wende, at his side, Los Angeles agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens said. The cause of death was pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, he said.

The Canadian-born Doohan fought in World War II and was wounded during the D-Day invasion, according to the StarTrek.com Web site. He was enjoying a busy career as a character actor when he auditioned for a role as an engineer in a new space adventure on NBC in 1966. A master of dialects from his early years in radio, he tried seven different accents.

"The producers asked me which one I preferred," Doohan recalled 30 years later. "I believed the Scot voice was the most commanding. So I told them, 'If this character is going to be an engineer, you'd better make him a Scotsman.' "

The series, which starred William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the enigmatic Mr. Spock, attracted an enthusiastic following of science fiction fans, especially among teenagers and children, but not enough ratings power. NBC canceled it after three seasons.

When the series ended in 1969, Doohan found himself typecast as Montgomery Scott, the canny engineer with a burr in his voice. In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow."

"I took his advice," said Doohan, "and since then everything's been just lovely."

"Star Trek" continued in syndication both in the United States and abroad, and its following grew larger and more dedicated. In his later years, Doohan attended 40 "Trekkie" gatherings around the country and lectured at colleges.

The huge success of George Lucas' "Star Wars" in 1977 prompted Paramount Pictures, which had produced "Star Trek" for television, to plan a movie based on the series. The studio brought back the TV cast and hired director Robert Wise. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was successful enough to spawn five sequels with the cast of the original TV show; other films, featuring cast members of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," have followed.

The powerfully built Doohan spoke frankly in 1998 about his employer and his TV commander.

"I started out in the series at basic minimum -- plus 10 percent for my agent. That was added a little bit in the second year. When we finally got to our third year, Paramount told us we'd get second-year pay! That's how much they loved us."

He accused Shatner of hogging the camera, adding: "I like Captain Kirk, but I sure don't like Bill. He's so insecure that all he can think about is himself."

James Montgomery Doohan was born March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, youngest of four children of William Doohan, a pharmacist, veterinarian and dentist, and his wife Sarah. As he wrote in his autobiography, "Beam Me Up, Scotty," his father was a drunk who made life miserable for his wife and children.

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.

After the war Doohan on a whim enrolled in a drama class in Toronto. He showed promise and won a two-year scholarship to New York's famed Neighborhood Playhouse, where fellow students included Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone.

His commanding presence and booming voice brought him work as a character actor in films and television, both in Canada and the United States.

Oddly, his only other TV series besides "Star Trek" was another space adventure, "Space Command," in 1953.

Doohan's first marriage to Judy Doohan produced four children. He had two children by his second marriage to Anita Yagel. Both marriages ended in divorce. In 1974 he married Wende Braunberger, and their children were Eric, Thomas and Sarah, who was born in 2000, when Doohan was 80.

In a 1998 interview, Doohan was asked if he ever got tired of hearing the line "Beam me up, Scotty" -- a line that, reportedly, was never actually spoken on the TV show.

"I'm not tired of it at all," he replied. "Good gracious, it's been said to me for just about 31 years. It's been said to me at 70 miles an hour across four lanes on the freeway. I hear it from just about everybody. It's been fun."

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat After Graphics People

GNOME News

  • Desk Changer is a Wallpaper Slideshow Extension for GNOME
    Have you been looking for a GNOME wallpaper slideshow extension? If so, you can stop. In the comments to our recent post on the way GNOME handles wallpapers a number of readers asked whether GNOME had an image slideshow feature built in, without the need for third-party apps and the like. The answer is yes, GNOME does. Sort of.
  • Minwaita: A Compact Version of Theme Adwaita for Gnome Desktop
    As you may already know that Ubuntu is switching back to Gnome, this is the transition time for Ubuntu to switch back. Some creators are motivated and creating themes for Gnome desktop, which is a good thing and hopefully we shall see plenty of Gnome themes and icons around soon. As its name shows "Minwaita" it is minimal/compact version of Adwaita theme, the theme is available after some enhancements to make Gnome more sleek and more vanilla Gnome experience without moving to away from Adwaita's design. This theme is compatible with Gnome 3.20 and up versions. This theme was released back in November, 2016 and still in continuous development that means if you find any problem or bug in the theme then report it to get it fixed in the next update. Obsidian-1 icons used in the following screenshots.
  • Gnome Pomodoro Timer Can Help You Increase Productivity
    If you are struggling with focus on something, it could be your work or study then try Pomodoro technique, this method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. You can read more about Pomodoro here.
  • Widget hierarchies in GTK+ 4.0
    In GTK+3, only GtkContainer subclasses can have child widgets. This makes a lot of sense for “public” container children like we know them, e.g. GtkBox — i.e. the developer can add, remove and reorder child widgets arbitrarily and the container just does layout.

Red Hat News

Leftovers: Ubuntu and Debian