Sad news from the Star Trek front as Nathan Jung, who is best known for his portrayal of Genghis Khan on the original Star Trek series, has passed away at the age of 74.
Nathan Jung began his acting career with his role as Khan in the 1969 episode “The Savage Curtain.” This episode is notable for many reasons. First, it features Jung as Khan, a force for “evil.” Second, this is also the “Abraham Lincoln” episode, as he fights for the side of “good.” And third, somehow this episode ranks (albeit by Screen Rant) as one of the worst episodes in all of Star Trek lore.
Most Star Trek fans should know this episode, but for those who don’t we find Kirk and Spock venturing to the surface of the volcanic planet Excalbia via an invitation from one President Abraham Lincoln. When they get to the planet, they discover their tricorder and phasers do not work. They also quickly find out that they were brought there by a rock creature named Yarnek as an experiment. Which human philosophy is stronger – good or evil. In one corner there is warlord Colonel Phillip Green, Klingon warlord Kahless, Zora, and Genghis Khan representing evil. On the other side, representing good is Kirk, Spock, Abraham Lincoln, and Surak, who is the father of the Vulcan civilization. Don’t listen to Screen Rant and if you get a chance, check out the episode.
Nathan Jung had quite a movie and television career outside of Star Trek. He never performed as a lead in any movie or series, always relegated to a background role or one that didn’t carry much weight. But it was that fact that continued to get Jung work in Hollywood.
Throughout the ‘70s, Jung appeared in many big-name series other than Star Trek. He was in Kung Fu, Sanford and Son, Starsky and Hutch, The Amazing Spider-Man, Police Woman, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and CHiPs. Also, in the ‘70s he starred in one of the more underrated feature film comedies, The Kentucky Fried Movie. This movie was the very first for the trio of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, who would go on to make their names in features such as Airplane!, Top Secret!, and The Naked Gun trilogy.
The Kentucky Fried Movie was pretty much a feature film of short, very inappropriate skits. Nathan Jung appeared in the final skit, the longest of the bunch, called A Fistful of Yen. The skit, a parody of the Bruce Lee classic film Enter the Dragon, is pure comedy gold. In it, Jung played Bulkus, a parody version of the Bolo character played by Bolo Yeung in Enter the Dragon.
The ‘80s were just as busy for Star Trek actor Nathan Jung. He appeared in other high-profile TV series such as M*A*S*H, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Manimal, Magnum, P.I., Hunter, The A-Team, The New Mike Hammer, and Highway to Heaven. Jung also turned in what was to be his longest TV series role, a three-episode stint on Falcon Crest. The ‘80s also saw Jung start in two big-name feature films, the 1986 hit Big Trouble in Little China, and the 1989 Michael Douglas-led film Black Rain.
The ‘90s were another busy decade for Star Trek actor Nathan Jung. This time, though, Jung focused more on feature films than the television side of the business. On the feature front, Jung found time on movies such as Darkman, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Rapid Fire, Surf Ninjas, American Yakuza, The Shadow, Galaxis, and Beverly Hills Ninja. While he concentrated on features, Jung also did spend time over on the small screen. He was seen in Dear John, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Burke’s Law, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Martial Law.
Roles for Nathan Jung began to slow as we ventured into the new century. The 2000s saw Jung only appear in a few movies, Extreme Honor, Finishing the Game, and Jackhammer was among those films.
Nathan Jung’s final movie appearance came in Timothy Tau’s Nathan Jung vs. Bruce Lee. The film is a documentary short about the time in which Jung met martial arts master Bruce Lee on the set of Here Comes the Brides. He appears as the narrator. You can check out his final performance above. Star Trek fans will always remember him. RIP Mr. Jung.