Remembering James Doohan, born March 3, 1920 and passed away on July 20, 2005.
James “Jimmy” Montgomery Doohan portrayed Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Star Trek: The Original Series and the first seven Star Trek movies. He also appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics” and in the archive footage used in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. His work as Scotty ranged over a twenty-nine year period, with his first being in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” in 1965 and his last appearance being in Star Trek Generations in 1994.
Doohan was born in March of 1920 in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, nineteen-year-old Doohan enlisted as a gunner in the Royal Canadian Artillery. After rising through the ranks to Sergeant, he won a place at Officer Training School, becoming a Lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment.
On 6 June 1944, Doohan, by then promoted to Command Post Officer (Captain), was among the Canadian forces sent to take Juno Beach in Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion. He was in command of 120 men. That night, Doohan was hit by machine-gun fire when returning to his command post, sustaining wounds in the leg, right hand and chest – a cigarette case caught a bullet that would otherwise have killed him – and lost the middle finger of his right hand (because of this injury, outside of rare occasions, Doohan would conceal that portion of his right hand in film shots.)
After convalescing in England, Doohan became a qualified pilot at 43 Operational Training Unit, Andover, England, winning Air Observation Post pilot’s wings in early 1945. He was posted to 666 (AOP) RCAF Squadron, where he flew the AUSTER Mark V aircraft, a dangerous, low-level flight tasking for artillery officers who photographed enemy positions, and directed artillery fire from the air. Although 666 (AOP) RCAF Squadron was not sent into battle, the unit was stationed at Apeldoorn, Holland, through the summer of 1945 to conduct “air taxi” duties.
After the war, Doohan started work in radio, but quickly branched out into TV, movies, and plays. By the 1950s, he had moved to America and had begun appearing as a guest star in minor television shows and movies. By the 1960s, he had credited guest star roles on such historic shows as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Have Gun Will Travel, The Virginian, and Gunsmoke.
After the end of the Star Trek TV series in 1969, Doohan spent the 1970s performing various roles in television and film, in an attempt to continue his acting career. During this time, Doohan appeared in the 1971 films Man in the Wilderness and Pretty Maids All in a Row. Doohan also guest-starred on the TV series Marcus Welby, M.D., Tarzan and the Super 7, Daniel Boone (1969 – “The Cache”, 1970 – “Perilous Passage”) and Return to Peyton Place.
In the 1980s, he appeared as guest star on the hit shows Magnum, P.I., MacGyver, and Fantasy Island.
Doohan was effectively typecast as Scotty, and spent the rest of his career appearing in the remaining major Star Trek films along with a few minor roles in various television shows. Doohan being typecast was exemplified by his cameo appearance as a “Scotty” in the 1993 spoof movie Loaded Weapon 1.
In 1991, Doohan appeared in a cameo role on the remake film Knight Rider 2000. The next year, he reprised his role of Scotty for the Star Trek The Next Generation episode “Relics”.
In 1996-97, he appeared as a regular supporting character on the sitcom Homeboys In Outer Space. He played a character named “Pippin”.
Doohan’s last credited film role was as a judge in a 2005 direct-to-TV sci-fi/horror film entitled Skinwalker: Curse of the Shaman.
Doohan lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease, complicated by pneumonia, at 5:30 a.m. on 20 July 2005. He was 85 years old. He died at his Redmond, Washington, home with his third wife Wende by his side. He asked his family to have him cremated and his remains shot into space. After nearly two years of delays, this wish was finally granted: his ashes were launched into space on 28 April 2007 from New Mexico. More of his ashes were launched into space on board the first SpaceX Dragon capsule launched towards the International Space Station on 22 May 2012.
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