James Montgomery Doohan, the veteran actor who spent several decades saving the U.S.S. Enterprise from disaster, died on July 20 of pneumonia. He was 85.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Doohan attended the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School. His father, William Doohan, was an abusive alcoholic who made life miserable for his wife Sarah and their four children. To escape the old man’s wrath, James left home at 19 and enlisted in the Canadian Army at the outbreak of World War II. He attained the rank of captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery, and on June 6, 1944, landed with Allied forces on Juno Beach, Normandy. Doohan was struck by seven bullets in the D-Day battle, and doctors later amputated the middle finger of his right hand.
Upon his return to Canada, Doohan enrolled in a drama class. His commanding presence and ear for dialogue earned him a two-year scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he studied the craft alongside Leslie Nielsen and Tony Randall. For the next decade, Doohan found steady work as a character actor in films and television, but his big break came in 1966 when he adopted a Scottish accent and landed the role of Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the classic science fiction series, “Star Trek.”
As the chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise, Doohan kept the crew from getting blown up, captured by aliens or trapped on uncharted planets. His frazzled demeanor in the midst of crisis never stopped him from efficiently working the ship’s particle beam transporter whenever Capt. Kirk or one of the other crew members demanded (in some variation): “Beam me up, Scotty.”
Doohan remained on the show for its three-season run, provided dozens of voices to characters on “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and appeared in seven “Star Trek” movies. His dramatic exploits made him a popular speaker on the science fiction/fantasy convention circuit and inspired the Milwaukee School of Engineering to award him an honorary degree in 1993. Doohan’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Married three times, Doohan was also the father of nine children. In his spare time, he collaborated with author S.M. Stirling on three science fiction novels (“The Rising,” “The Privateer,” “The Independent Command”), and wrote his 1996 autobiography, “Beam Me Up, Scotty.” He retired from public life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004. Per his request, Doohan’s ashes will be blasted into outer space later this year.
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