Denise Crosby: Why She Really Quit Star Trek And Why She Did Playboy

By Rick Gonzales | 11 months ago

Denise Crosby

When you are part of an entertainment family dynasty, things should come easy (or easier) shouldn’t they? Especially if you do happen to have talent. For actress Denise Crosby, while she has been successful, her career isn’t exactly what she had planned on.


Denise Crosby

Denise Crosby was born into the Crosby family in 1957. Her father, Dennis Crosby, was not married to her mother, Marilyn Scott. Shortly after Denise was born, her father married a Vegas showgirl, prompting Scott to pursue a lawsuit over the paternity of Denise. The result, a three-year-long sensational (for the time) suit that ended with Dennis Crosby being ordered to pay child support and legal fees.

The embarrassment created over this was big for the family, most notably for Denise’s grandfather, the legendary singer/actor Bing Crosby. Denise kept the Crosby name and even though she was nineteen when her grandfather passed away, she never once met him.


So, how does you get revenge for not being accepted into the family? You post for Playboy of course. That’s exactly what Denise Crosby did in 1979. She told the Monster Party podcast the how’s and why’s, stating it was “some kind of rebellion on my part, some way of saying screw you to the family image”. Below is her interview…

While her revenge-seeking was a jumpstart to her career, it didn’t push Denise Crosby into the stratosphere in terms of how Hollywood welcomed her. She was going to have to work for it.


Pink Panther

Denise Crosby’s first acting gig was in 1980 on an episode of the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives. She followed that up with back-to-back roles in the Blake Edwards Pink Panther series, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther.

From that time until she became a recognizable star in 1987, Crosby was seen in various roles. She was in the film The Man Who Loved Women, My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn, Malice in Wonderland, and Eliminators. She was also seen in an episode of the popular L.A. Law TV series. But 1987 rolled around and gave Crosby the role she is now most known for.


Tasha Yar on TNG

Denise Crosby was part of the main cast for first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She played Lt. Tasha Yar on the series, though when she was first hired, she was supposed to play Counsellor Deanna Troi and Marina Sirtis was to play Yar. But series creator Gene Roddenberry switched their roles before production could start, giving Crosby the role of Yar.

Denise Crosby was initially getting top billing for her role but as the season wore on, her character was relegated to the background, something Crosby did not care for. So, Crosby decided to leave the show.

Denise Crosby as Tasha
Denise Crosby on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Contrary to popular belief, Denise Crosby was not fired from Star Trek: The Next Generation. She explained to her reasoning for leaving the show after its first season: “For me, I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get off that show. I was dying. This was not an overnight decision. I was grateful to have made that many episodes, but I didn’t want to spend the next six years going “Aye, aye, captain,” and standing there, in the same uniform, in the same position on the bridge. It just scared the hell out of me that this was what I was going to be doing for the next X-amount of years. I think you have to take your chances. I was really young. I didn’t have to make house payments or put kids through private school or support people. I was free to make those kinds of decisions. I’d been in acting school really dreaming of playing all kinds of different things. Whether it’ll happen or not, you don’t know, but you’ve got to give yourself a chance. God forbid you go through your life thinking, “What if?”

Returning as a Romulan
Denise Crosby as a Romulan on TNG

So Denise Crosby’s character, Lt. Tasha Yar, was killed off in season one. Crosby eventually did return to Star Trek: The Next Generation for a few episodes in 1990, 1991 and in the series final season in 1994.


Denise Crosby in Deep Impact

Denise Crosby has had a successful career as a working actress. After Star Trek, Crosby went on to play in many various roles, both on the big and small screen. She found herself guest-starring in many popular TV shows such as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Baywatch, Spy Game, Snoops, NYPD Blue, and The X-Files.

Pet Sematary
Denise Crosby in Pet Sematary

That list barely touches the surface of all she has been a part of. Denise also starred in feature films like the original Pet Sematary and Deep Impact. The bulk of her career, though, has centered around TV shows.


Denise Crosby now

As Denise Crosby entered the 2000s, her career continued in a busy way. She pulled down roles in Dexter, Mad Men, Prison Break, and The Walking Dead. One of Denise Crosby’s bigger roles came when she became a recurring star on the Showtime series Ray Donovan. Now 62-years-old, her most recent work was on the movie Itsy Bitsy and a recurring role on the TV series Suits.

While she may not be the most famous Crosby, Denise Crosby has carved out a long and successful career.