08-07 Happy birthday to the late Steve Ihnat, Born: August 7, 1934 and passed away on May 12, 1972.
Steve Ihnat (born Stefan Ihnat) was the actor, writer, and director who played the legendary Fleet Captain Garth of Izar in the “Whom Gods Destroy” episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. He was born in Czechoslovakia but immigrated to Canada with his family when he was five years old. In the 1950s, he moved to the United States to pursue an acting career.
On television, Ihnat guest-starred on several episodes of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible, Mannix, and The F.B.I., the latter of which starred fellow TOS guest performer Stephen Brooks. One of Ihnat’s later appearances on The F.B.I. (after Brooks left the show) featured several other TOS guest stars: Paul Carr, Clint Howard, Richard Evans and Paul Fix.
In 1963, Ihnat guest-starred on the western television series Temple Houston, which starred Jeffrey Hunter in the title role. Ihnat again worked with Hunter on the 1965 film Brainstorm.
Ihnat worked frequently with director James Goldstone between 1964 and 1966. Their first collaboration was an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, along with Jill Ireland and David Opatoshu. This was followed by a two-parter of The Outer Limits and episodes of The Fugitive, Rawhide (with John Anderson), Perry Mason, Blue Light, and The Iron Horse. On the latter, Ihnat again worked with TOS regular James Doohan.
In 1967, Ihnat was the star of an unsold pilot called Police Story, written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. TOS stars DeForest Kelley and Grace Lee Whitney had supporting roles in this pilot, as did TOS guest star Malachi Throne.
Ihnat has also made appearances in a handful of films. One of his earliest films was one which he co-wrote, a 1963 drama entitled Strike Me Deadly. He later had a supporting role in the 1966 drama The Chase, which was followed by a role in the 1967 spy comedy In Like Flint. In the latter, he worked for the first time with his “Whom Gods Destroy” co-star Yvonne Craig.
Ihnat next played Andy Warshaw in the 1967 western film Hour of the Gun, working alongside William Windom, William Schallert, Monte Markham, Robert Phillips and Dave Perna; the film featured music by Jerry Goldsmith. Ihnat then had a role in Robert Altman’s 1968 science fiction film Countdown, which featured music by Leonard Rosenman, which was followed by the crime drama Madigan that same year. The latter also starred fellow Trek alumni Michael Dunn, Lloyd Haynes, and Gloria Calomee.
After working with director Richard Colla on the 1969 TV movie The Whole World Is Watching, Ihnat and Colla reteamed for two feature films: Zigzag (1970) and Fuzz (1972). Both of these films co-starred Stewart Moss; the former also featured William Marshall and Vic Perrin. Fuzz would prove to be Ihnat’s last feature film appearance.
Ihnat also wrote and directed a pair of films, 1970’s Do Not Throw Cushions Into the Ring and 1972’s The Honkers. He starred in the former film along with Sally Carter, whom he married on 23 May 1970.
A heart attack claimed Steve Ihnat’s life in 1972. He was only 37 years old. He was attending the Cannes film festival promoting The Honkers when he died. He was survived by his wife of nearly two years, Sally, and their two children. Ihnat’s final work was a leading role in Hunter, a TV movie thriller which co-starred Bill Erwin, Sabrina Scharf, John Schuck, Fritz Weaver, and Jason Wingreen. This movie aired on CBS in January 1973, nearly eight months after Ihnat’s death.