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James_Doohan

James Doohan

James Montgomery Doohan (March 3, 1920July 20, 2005) was a Canadian character and voice actor best known for his role as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the television and film series Star Trek. Doohan's characterization of the Scottish Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise was one of the most recognizable elements in the Star Trek franchise. He also made several contributions behind the scenes for the Star Trek franchise. Many of the characterizations, mannerisms, and expressions that he established for Scotty and other Star Trek characters have become entrenched in popular culture.

Outside of his performances in Star Trek and other television shows and films, Doohan was also a wounded combat veteran of World War II. Following his success with Star Trek, he supplemented his income and showed continued support for his fans by making numerous public appearances. Doohan often went to great lengths to buoy the large number of fans who have been inspired to make their own accomplishments in engineering and other fields, as a result of Doohan's work and his encouragement. Doohan was considered by some to be one of the most giving and affable stars of the Star Trek franchise.

Early life

Doohan, (DOO-ən), was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, the youngest of four children of Sarah and William Patrick Doohan, recent refugees from Bangor, Northern Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. His father was a pharmacist, veterinarian, and dentist, and his mother was a homemaker. Doohan's father is said to have invented an early form of high-octane gasoline in 1923. In Doohan's 1996 autobiography, he tells of his father's alcoholism and how he tormented his family. His family moved to Sarnia, Ontario and Doohan attended high school at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School (SCITS), where he excelled in mathematics and science. In addition to his studies at Sarnia, Doohan enrolled in the 102 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

Military service

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Doohan, aged 19, joined the Royal Canadian Artillery, and was eventually commissioned as a lieutenant in the 13th Field Regiment, part of the divisional artillery of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Doohan went to the United Kingdom in 1940 for what became years of training. His first combat assignment was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers along the way, Doohan led his unit to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines and took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan took six rounds from a Bren gun fired by a nervous sentry: four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was halted by the silver cigarette case he carried, and his wounded right middle finger was amputated, which he would conceal during his career as an actor. However, despite his efforts, the missing finger can be seen in the Star Trek episode Trouble with Tribbles, as well as Tomorrow is Yesterday and Catspaw.

Despite his injuries, Doohan remained in the military, trained as a pilot and flew an artillery observation plane. He flew Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF, as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in a flying role in support of #1 Canadian AGRA (Army Groups Royal Artillery). All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer-pilots and accompanied by enlisted RCA and RCAF personnel serving as observers.

Though he was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces." One of the many legendary stories of his flying years tells of Doohan slaloming a plane — variously cited as a Hurricane or a jet trainer — between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done, which earned him a serious reprimand. (The actual feat was performed in a Mark IV Auster on the Salisbury Plain north of RAF Andover, in the late spring of 1945).

Early acting career

After the war, Doohan started his acting career. Disheartened by the laughable quality of a radio drama, he privately studied Shakespeare. His work began with a CBC radio show appearance on January 12, 1946. He took a drama class in Toronto, and later won a two-year scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where his classmates included Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone. For several years Doohan would shuttle between Toronto and New York as work demanded. During this period he appeared on some 4,000 radio programs and 400 television programs, and earned a reputation for his versatility. In the mid-1950s he appeared as forest ranger Timber Tom (the northern counterpart of Buffalo Bob) in the Canadian version of Howdy Doody. Coincidentally, fellow Canadian and Star Trek cast member William Shatner appeared simultaneously as Ranger Bill in the American version. Doohan and Shatner also appeared on the 1950s Canadian science fiction series Space Command.

Doohan played the lead role in the CBC TV drama production "Flight into Danger", based on Arthur Hailey's novel Runway Zero-Eight, later adapted as Terror in the Sky and spoofed in Airplane!. His credits also included The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964) and Bonanza. In the Bonanza episode, "Gift of Water" (1962), he co-starred with actress Majel Barrett who would later be cast in the role of Star Trek's Nurse Chapel. He appeared as an assistant to the President of the United States in 2 episodes of Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea.

Star Trek

Doohan always had a gift for using foreign accents. Auditioning for the role of Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, before Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), Doohan did several different accents. Roddenberry asked which he preferred, and Doohan replied "Well, if you want an engineer, he better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world's best engineers have been Scottish". (This is reference to the vast number of engineers from Scotland that resulted from Scottish pre-eminence in marine engineering, stemming from the time of Napier; British ships were legendary in having a stereotypical Scottish engineer on board.)

In later years Doohan would revisit this casting process at Star Trek conventions, demonstrating a variety of possible voices and characters. When Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Animated Series in the early 1970s, Doohan's ability to perform different voices was utilized by having him perform most "guest star" male roles in the series, including Robert April, conjectured first captain of the Enterprise.

The Scott character, as conceived, would have been a semi-regular, but just as fellow cast members Leonard Nimoy, as the alien science officer Spock, and DeForest Kelley, as the irascible medical officer Dr. McCoy, were elevated in importance to leads alongside William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk, it was made clear that, owing to his high technological orientation, LCDR Scott was the third-in-command of the Enterprise, and at times the ship was left in his care. Scott was frequently used in subplots regarding disabled ship components (such as the dilithium crystals which powered the warp drive, the transporter teleportation device, or just fiddling in the Jefferies tubes) and as a foil for Kirk's ambitious tactical approaches, which were said to strain the propulsion and defenses of the starship. In this capacity, Scott proved to be as much of a tinkerer, or improvisational engineer, as a high-tech specialist, often apparently holding the Enterprise together with little more than baling wire and his own spittle. In the end, many fans saw the Enterprise itself as the show's star, leaving Scott in an enviable position as her defender. For example, in "The Trouble With Tribbles", Scott stands idly by and even keeps Chekov from starting any trouble as a Klingon insults Kirk; however, Scott is finally provoked into violence when the Klingon insults the Enterprise itself.

Doohan was often quoted as saying, "Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent."

Using his considerable vocal skills, Doohan devised the Vulcan and Klingon language dialogue heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Later, professional linguists, particularly Marc Okrand, expanded Klingon into a fully constructed language with a working grammar.

In addition to playing Scotty, he also did many guest voices on Star Trek including:

After Star Trek

After the series ended, Doohan found himself typecast and had a hard time getting other acting roles. After a conversation with his dentist, he realized that he would "always be Scotty," and he was able to support himself with income from personal appearances. Unlike some other members of the cast, Doohan relished meeting fans and was always ready to entertain with a story - or a song. Otherwise, he had minor, fleeting parts, often trading on his Trek fame, such as the Captain in the short-lived Saturday morning live-action kids' show, Jason of Star Command, or a cameo in the made-for-TV movie Knight Rider 2000 as "Jimmy Doohan, the guy who played Scotty on Star Trek". He also had a role in the space comedy Homeboys in Outer Space, in which he played a character named Pippen: a pun on Scotty and basketball star Scottie Pippen. When the Star Trek franchise was revived, Doohan reprised his role of Scotty in seven Star Trek films and made a guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, all of which left him financially comfortable. Even so, he would never return to the busy, versatile career he once had. Many of Doohan's film appearances did center on the role of Scotty, such as a cameo in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, where he plays a policeman who tells his superior officer "I am giving it all she has got, Captain!" in the same accent he used in Star Trek. However, he refused to contribute to the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" or allow his image to be used in it, and was "replaced" in the episode by the created character "Welshie". Although he continued to work with William Shatner in the Star Trek movies, in private life Doohan didn't care for him, and was once quoted as saying "I like Captain Kirk, but I can't say that I'm very fond of Bill," declining to be interviewed by Shatner for Shatner's first "Star Trek Memories" book about the show. However, Doohan consented to be interviewed for William Shatner's second "Star Trek Memories" book, and an Associated Press article published at the time of Doohan's final convention appearance in late August 2004 stated that Doohan had forgiven Shatner and they had mended their relationship.

Later life and death

Many fans told Doohan over the years that it was he who inspired them to choose engineering as a profession. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, an engineer before he participated in the NASA's Apollo Project, noted this also, personally telling Doohan on stage at Doohan's last public appearance, "From one old engineer to another, thanks, mate.

In the 1997 documentary Trekkies, Doohan relates an emotional, uplifting story. A female fan had sent him a suicide note. Doohan immediately contacted the fan and arranged to speak with her at his next convention appearance. Doohan continued to see her at several other conventions, but ultimately didn't hear from her for several years. Doohan, visibly moved by relating this tale, then reveals the reason for the eight-year-long silence: He received one final letter from the previously distraught fan, thanking Doohan for his kindness and comforting words, and informing him that because of his encouragement, she had successfully gone back to school and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Doohan suffered from Parkinson's disease, diabetes mellitus, and pulmonary fibrosis in later life. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

On July 20, 2005, at 5:30 in the morning, James Montgomery Doohan died at his home in Redmond, Washington with his wife Wende and long-time friend and agent, Steve Stevens, at his side. His agent identified the cause as pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease. In what may be regarded as an ironic coincidence, Doohan died on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, arguably the greatest engineering achievement in human history.

Almost two years after his death, approximately one-quarter ounce (7 grams) of Doohan's ashes were sent into space, as he had requested in his will. The ashes, along with those of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper as well as almost 200 others, were launched on the SpaceLoft XL rocket, on April 28, 2007, when the rocket briefly entered outer space in a four-minute suborbital flight before parachuting to earth, as planned, with the ashes still inside. The ashes were subsequently launched on a Falcon 1 rocket, on 3 August 2008, into what was intended to be a low Earth orbit, however the rocket failed two minutes after launch. The rest of his ashes were scattered over Puget Sound in Washington.

On July 31, 2005, the Skip Barber Racing School paid tribute to Doohan by dedicating the traditional race weekend's "Memorial" race as the "Beam Me Up, Scottie! Memorial" during the series' visit to Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

Legacy

Doohan's passing was the fourth major loss for fans of Original Star Trek, after Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's death in 1991, Mark Lenard's in 1996 and DeForest Kelley's in 1999. Scotty's exploits as the redoubtable Chief Engineer aboard the Enterprise inspired many students to pursue a career in engineering. Because of this the Milwaukee School of Engineering granted Doohan an honorary degree in engineering. He was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 31 2004. Despite his ill health, he was present at the ceremony, which proved to be his final public appearance.

Since in Star Trek lore Scotty was born in the town of Linlithgow, Scotland, the West Lothian Council plans to place a commemorative plaque in the town in memory of Doohan. Other towns having groups claiming to be Scotty's birthplace and wishing memorials are Aberdeen, Elgin, and Edinburgh.

Personal life

Doohan was married three times. He had four children, Larkin, Deirdre, and twins Christopher and Montgomery, with first wife Janet Young before a 1964 divorce. His marriage to Anita Yagel from 1967 to 1972 produced no children. In early-1974, he was introduced to 17-year-old fan Wende Braunberger at a theatre performance, later marrying that same year on October 4, 1974 with Star Trek actor William Campbell serving as best man. Doohan and Braunberger had three children: Eric, Thomas, and Sarah (Sarah was born in 2000, when Doohan was 80 years old.)

Bibliography

Autobiography

Science fiction novels (The Flight Engineer series):

References

External links

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