Majel Barrett, best known as Nurse Christine Chapel from the original Star Trek series, died yesterday at age 76.
Majel Barrett was originally cast as Number One in the original Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage.” According to Star Trek lore, the network suits hated both her character and Spock. When the series was green-lit, Gene Roddenberry kept Spock. Per Wikipedia, “Barrett often joked that Roddenberry, given the choice between keeping Mr. Spock…or the woman character, ‘kept the Vulcan and married the woman, ’cause he didn’t think Leonard [Nimoy] would have it the other way around.'” (Barrett and Roddenberry were wed after the series was canceled. She became Majel Barrett Roddenberry and they remained married until his death.)
Recast as Nurse Chapel, she was Dr. McCoy’s trusted assistant, and had an unrequited love for Spock which lent pathos to her character. Her screen time was limited, but she had a crucial role in “Amok Time,” one of the most highly regarded episodes of the series.
She had bit parts in two of the movies, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by which time Nurse Chapel had become Dr. Chapel.
Majel Barrett went on to play Lwaxana Troi, Deanna Troi’s mother, on both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. She also did voice-over work as the computer for all of the Star Trek franchises, including the animated series.
Happily, she will again be the voice of the computer in the upcoming Star Trek relaunch, having wrapped up her voice-over work two weeks before her death.
Rest in peace.