Actress Grace Lee Whitney, who played the character of Yeoman Janice Rand on the original "Star Trek" series, has died, the Associated Press reports. She was 85 years old.
Rand was an early character on the show, but Whitney was written out after eight episodes. One of her most famous appearances on the show was fighting off an evil version of Captain Kirk.
William Shatner tweeted his condolences.
She wrote of a troubled time during and after the show in a 1998 autobiography. Whitney said that an executive sexually assaulted her during her time on the show, but never named who she was referring to. Her character was ultimately removed, at least partially because they wanted Kirk to not be tied to any one woman as his love interest, Whitney said in an interview with the Sun.
After she was removed from the show, she said she ended up falling deeper into alcoholism and mostly stopped acting. She struggled with addiction until she got help with the aid of the late Leonard Nimoy. When Whitney was in an unemployment office, she ran into "Star Trek's" DeForest Kelley, according to Kelley biography "From Sawdust to Stardust," and he told her about Star Trek fan conventions and that fans had been asking for her. She ended up making appearances.
Whitney later returned to the "Star Trek" franchise in several of the films. Her character received a more dignified ending, earning several promotions in the movies rather than being relegated to a character excised from continuing in the original shows.
Whitney even found a home in some "Star Trek" projects outside the official movies, including appearing in several fan films. She appeared alongside original cast member George Takei (Mr. Sulu) in "Star Trek: New Voyages," and with Walter Koenig (Chekov) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) in "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men."
Her son Jonathan Dweck tells the AP that his mother would have wanted to be remembered for surviving addiction rather than for "Star Trek," but the latter will probably be what brings her to mind for many.