Wednesday, July 20, 2005

He's Dead, Jim*

Scotty has beamed up to that great big transporter pad in the sky.
James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and motion pictures who responded to the apocryphal command "Beam me up, Scotty," died early Wednesday. He was 85.
Well, shoot.

Apparently, there was a lot more to Mr. Doohan than most people realize. Carnaby and I are huge Star Trek fans (primarily of the original series), but even we did not know these interesting tidbits: Born in Vancouver, B.C. (where Carnaby and I lived for many a year), served in WWII as a Captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery, lost one of his middle fingers in Normandy on D-Day, was a linguist, and fathered his last child in 2000 at the age of 80!

That bit about Normandy is particularly interesting when you consider how he lost his finger
[He] was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.
Geez. You won't find too many Hollywood folks like that. Nor so gentlemanly. I will always remember Doohan as a man of grace and kindness, both on and off the screen. If you ever listened to him speak, it was obvious that he had a lot of fondness for his fans. This story, which he relayed in the documentary, Trekkies, was particularly touching
[He] spoke movingly of a woman who wrote him a suicide note. He called her and told her there was a Star Trek convention in two weeks and he wanted to see her there. She went, they talked and he told her about the next convention, and he wanted to see her there. She went to that one, too. And the next, and the next—for about two or three years. Then silence. He didn’t hear from her, and didn’t know what had happened.

Eight years later, she wrote him a letter, thanking him for taking the time to help her. His kindness and attention had lifted her spirits and given her the will to go on. She was writing to tell him that he had inspired her to get her degree in electrical engineering. He had tears in his eyes as he spoke of it.
And he was very good-natured about that infamous line

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."

It certainly has. R.I.P. Scotty...

James Doohan
1920 - 2005

[*Forgive me. I couldn't help myself.]


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