09-14 Walter Koenig. Born September 14, 1936.
Walter Marvin Koenig is an American actor, writer, teacher and director, known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in Star Trek and Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. He wrote the script for the 2008 science fiction legal thriller InAlienable
Koenig appeared in two films in the early 1960s, The Norman Vincent Peale Story and Strange Lovers. In 1963, he made an appearance in the premiere episode of the long-running daytime soap opera General Hospital. The following year, he guest-starred on the short-lived drama series The Lieutenant.
Other television shows on which Koenig appeared throughout the 1960s include Combat!, The Untouchables, The Great Adventure, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (directed by Joseph Pevney), and Ben Casey (directed by John Meredyth Lucas). In addition, Koenig was directed by Michael O’Herlihy in two episodes of Mr. Novak and an episode of Mannix (working with Louise Sorel). An episode of Gidget in which Koenig appeared (with Brooke Bundy) was scripted by Stephen Kandel.
Koenig was cast as Pavel Chekov for the second season on Star Trek: The Original Series in 1967. The producers specifically brought in the youthful Koenig to draw younger viewers to the show. The original plan was to create a young, British character in the vein of The Beatles and the current success of their “American counterparts”, The Monkees. Later, Gene Roddenberry decided the character should be Russian.
Koenig was recommended for the role by director Joseph Pevney, who noted that he “had the worst fake Russian accent I ever heard”. The actor, 30 at the time, played the 22-year-old Ensign. To augment the ploy, they made him look like Davy Jones from the The Monkees. Reportedly, the ploy worked. Koenig originally had to wear a Davy Jones-style wig until his own hair grew out.
Koenig appeared in thirty-six episodes of Star Trek between 1967 and 1969, beginning with “Catspaw” (although his first aired episode was “Amok Time”). His first filming day on the series was Tuesday, 2 May 1967. Archive footage from his work in the second season episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” was used in the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. He reprised his role as Chekov in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and continued playing the character in the next six feature films. He was nominated for Saturn Awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his work on two of these films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
His last canon appearance as Chekov was in the 1994 film Star Trek Generations, but he did play the character in several non-canon productions. He appeared as Chekov in the short film created for the theme park attraction Star Trek Adventure, and he also voiced the character in the video games Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Star Trek: Judgment Rites, Star Trek Generations (based on the film), Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, and Star Trek: Shattered Universe.
In 2006, he played Chekov (as a lieutenant) in the fan production Star Trek: New Voyages, which was conceived and produced by James Cawley. Koenig guest-starred in the episode “To Serve All My Days,” alongside Cawley, Mary Linda Rapelye, John Carrigan, Jeffery Quinn, and Larry Nemecek. The episode was written by D.C. Fontana, Ethan H. Calk, and Jack Treviño.
Koenig again played Chekov, this time with the rank of captain, in the independent movie Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, in which he starred opposite fellow TOS co-star Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and Star Trek Generations actor Alan Ruck as Captain John Harriman. The movie was directed by Star Trek: Voyager’s Tim Russ, who also appeared in his role as Tuvok. The movie featured many other Star Trek veterans in the cast, including Gary Graham, J.G. Hertzler, Cirroc Lofton, Chase Masterson, Arlene Martel, Lawrence Montaigne, Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang, and Grace Lee Whitney.
Koenig has written two books describing his experiences working on Star Trek: Chekov’s Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek – The Motion Picture, published in 1980, and Warped Factors, published in 1998. He has also participated in a number of Star Trek-related specials and documentaries, including William Shatner’s Star Trek Memories, Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special, Trekkies, and How William Shatner Changed the World.
After Star Trek was canceled in 1969, Koenig made guest appearances on such television series as Medical Center (acting with Rudy Solari), The Virginian (with Brock Peters), and Ironside (with Theodore Bikel). He also had a supporting role in the Emmy Award-nominated TV movie Goodbye, Raggedy Ann, working alongside John Colicos. In 1973, Koenig appeared in the film Nightmare Honeymoon, which also featured John Beck, David Huddleston, Roy Jenson, and Jay Robinson. That same year, he played the alien Oro in two episodes of Harlan Ellison’s science fiction series The Starlost, including one episode directed by Joseph L. Scanlan.
In 1973, he wrote an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, entitled (TAS: “The Infinite Vulcan”). Koenig later wrote an episode of the fantasy series Land of the Lost entitled “The Stranger,” which aired in 1974. Also in 1974, Koenig appeared in the unsold TV pilot movie The Questor Tapes, written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon. The pilot was directed by Richard Colla and starred Robert Foxworth in the title role. Koenig’s TOS co-star, Majel Barrett, also had a role in the movie. In 1976, Koenig reunited with TOS co-star William Shatner in the Columbo movie “Fade in to Murder,” which also featured Bert Remsen. Koenig subsequently wrote an episode of the drama series Family, which ended up guest-starring Bert Remsen as well as Kim Cattrall.
In 1982, Koenig appeared on the short-lived adventure series Bring ‘Em Back Alive, on which Clyde Kusatsu was a regular cast member. The following year, Koenig played the role of Pompey in a TV movie adaptation of William Shakepeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. His TOS co-star Nichelle Nichols played Charmian in this production, while James Avery and Earl Boen also had supporting roles.
Koenig starred in the 1989 independent science fiction/action film Moontrap, in which he played Col. Jason Grant, an astronaut who takes on sentient machines from the moon that have been programmed to conquer Earth. Koenig’s wife and fellow Star Trek alum, Judy Levitt, had a small role in this film. Koenig appeared in another science fiction film in 1989 called Deadly Weapon, which also featured DS9 guest star Gary Frank.
Besides his work on Star Trek, Koenig is also well known for his role as villainous Psi Cop Alfred Bester on the acclaimed science fiction series, Babylon 5. He appeared in twelve episodes of this show between 1994 and 1998, during which time he worked with fellow Star Trek alumni Caitlin Brown, Brian Cousins, Diane DiLascio, Mike Genovese, Andreas Katsulas, Leigh J. McCloskey, Christopher Michael, Marjorie Monaghan, Bill Mumy, Julia Nickson, Tracy Scoggins, Patricia Tallman, and John Vickery. Koenig’s wife, Judy Levitt, was also seen on the show, playing a fellow Psi Cop. Among those who directed Koenig on Babylon 5 were Tony Dow and Michael Vejar. Koenig had previously been offered a different guest role in the first season episode “And the Sky Full of Stars”, but his health at the time prevented him from accepting, and the role ultimately went to Christopher Neame.
Koenig had a supporting role in the 1996 martial arts film Sworn to Justice, working alongside Brad Dourif. He then starred in the 1997 independent film Drawing Down the Moon, which also involved martial arts. In addition, Koenig participated in the video game Maximum Surge, in which he portrayed the villainous role of Drexel. He reprised this role in 2003 for a TV movie based on the game. Michael Champion, Christopher Doyle, John Eskobar, Leslie Hoffman, Michael Jace, and Spice Williams also appeared in the video game version, while Dick Miller and Vincent Schiavelli had roles in the TV movie.
In 1998, Koenig made a gag appearance on an episode of Diagnosis Murder which involved a possible alien abduction. The episode also featured his TOS co-stars Majel Barrett, George Takei, and Grace Lee Whitney, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and aforementioned Lost in Space and Babylon 5 star (and Deep Space Nine guest actor) Bill Mumy.
Koenig made an appearance in the independent science fiction movie/pilot, The Privateers, in which he acted alongside Karl Urban. Koenig later made a guest appearance as a Russian submarine commander on the comedy series Son of the Beach, on which DS9 guest actress Lisa Banes was a regular.
Koenig and his TOS castmates (with the exception of James Doohan and DeForest Kelley) voiced caricatures of themselves in the 2002 episode of Futurama entitled “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”. This episode parodied many aspects of Star Trek, and thus contained numerous Star Trek-related references, gags, and in-jokes. Some of the references related to Koenig included his delivery of “nuclear wessels” in Star Trek IV and his having to share scripts with George Takei on the set of TOS.
In 2003, Koenig played the role of “Mr. Lofcheck” in the short film Roddenberry on Patrol. This short film, directed by and co-starring Voyager regular Tim Russ, offers a comedic look at how Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek. It also featured Star Trek alumni Robert Beltran, Richard Herd, Nichelle Nichols, Robert O’Reilly, Robert Picardo, and George Takei.
Koenig recently wrote, starred in, and executive produced a science fiction film called InAlienable. Koenig premiered an unfinished trailer of the film at the 2007 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. TNG actress Marina Sirtis also stars in the film; among the other performers who appear are fellow Star Trek alumni Erick Avari, Gary Graham, Richard Herd, J.G. Hertzler, Judy Levitt, Lisa LoCicero, Courtney Peldon, Alan Ruck, Patricia Tallman, and Koenig’s son, Andrew. When originally announced in 2003, InAlienable – then known as Illegal alien – was set to star John de Lancie and Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Picardo.
Other recent acting credits from Koenig include a supporting role in the 2006 film Mad Cowgirl and an appearance in the 2007 TV movie Bone Eater. In 2006, he published his first novel, Buck Alice And the Actor-robot, in which survivors of an alien invasion vie for the hand of the last fertile woman on Earth.
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