It’s been a rough week for the Star Trek family. First, beloved actor Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83, and now writer and producer Harve Bennett has died at the age of 84. According to reports, Bennett passed away on Wednesday in Medford, Oregon.
Bennett had a long, distinguished career that included things like The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and The Mod Squad, but it is his work on the Star Trek movies that we most remember him for.
After the less than stellar showing from Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, Bennett was brought in by Paramount and is largely credited with revitalizing the franchise and saving the film side of things. He took the lead on the next four films: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It was his idea to bring back Khan (Ricardo Montalban) as the villain in the second feature, and that worked out pretty well.
After The Motion Picture, Nimoy said he never wanted to put on the pointy ears and play Spock again, and it was Bennett who reportedly changed his mind. Talking about this situation in 2006, he said:
Everyone said, ‘How are you going to get Leonard to do another one?’ I had an idea. I went to see Leonard who was then in a play and we had dinner afterward, and I said to him, ‘I know you don’t want to do any more Star Trek. Leonard, do you remember Psycho? Do you remember that the biggest star in that picture was killed, to everyone’s shock, one-third of the way into the picture?’ He said yes, and I said, ‘I want to do that with Spock. I will give you the most glorious death scene ever played.’ He said that was a great idea, and he was on.
In addition to Star Trek, Bennett also worked on movies like Death Race, and shows like The Invisible Man. He even teamed with Steven Spielberg to create Invasion America for the WB. An important figure in the history of one of our most beloved franchises, Harve Bennett will be missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.