Iconic Star Trek Actress Dies

The memorable Star Trek actress was 93.

By Christian Long | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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Joanne Linville, a veteran character actor for more than three decades, has passed away on Sunday at the age of 93. News of her death was first reported by the CAA, and later confirmed by Deadline. While Linville had dozens of film and TV credits to her name, she’s perhaps best known for playing a Romulan commander in the Star Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident.”  

The classic Star Trek episode first aired in 1968, and involved a seemingly insane Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) who orders the Enterprise to fly out of the neutral zone and into Romulan airspace. The Romulans, naturally, surround the Enterprise with their cloaked warships and take the crew hostage. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) appears to betray Kirk and gives him up to the commander, played by Linville. Who also happens to be overtly attracted to the Vulcan second-in-command. 

The episode would make history as one of the rare instances in Star Trek that Spock actually got romantic with someone. However, his feelings toward her proved to be an elaborate ruse by Spock, which allowed Kirk to break free and steal the coveted Romulan cloaking device. It was later revealed that Kirk and Spock were acting under orders from the Federation, which put the tenuous cease-fire between them and the Romulans at risk.

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Born on January 15, 1928 in Bakersfield, CA, Linville got her first uncredited role in 1950 as a showgirl in the Western Copper Canyon. In addition to her noteworthy role on Star Trek, Linville also appeared in episodes of Alfred Hitchcok Presents, Charlie’s Angels, as well as a beloved episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Passerby.” The episode saw Linville play a distraught woman at the end of The Civil War who regales a Confederate soldier with tales of what the war has done to her, her home, and her way of life. 

Her last credited role saw Linville return to the Star Trek universe, of sorts. In 2016 she appeared in an episode of the long-running audio series Starship Excelsior, which bills itself as “a fan-made audio drama” set in the larger sandbox created by Gene Roddenberry. 

Linville’s presence on the big screen wasn’t quite as proficient as her work in TV milestones like Star Trek. Although she did appear in some noteworthy films, including the Cold War thriller Scorpio, The Seduction, and the 1976 remake of A Star is Born over the course of her prolific career. 

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From 1962 to 1973, Linville was married to fellow actor and filmmaker Mark Rydell, and their professional careers intersected several times both during and after their marriage. Most recently, Linville appeared in the 2001 biopic James Dean, which starred James Franco as the late actor, which Rydell directed. She was also the great-grandmother to Star Wars star Billie Lourd, who also happens to be Carrie Fisher’s daughter. Linville’s survived by her children Christopher and Amy, and her grandchildren Ruby and Ginger. 

Though to Star Trek fans everywhere, she’ll always be remembered as the sultry Romulan Commander who tried her hardest to seduce a steely-eyed, emotionless Vulcan. Only to be double-crossed in the name of the Federation.