Thursday, July 21, 2005

James Montgomery Doohan --- RIP

Like many conservatives I know, I'm a science fiction fan from way back. And doubtless one of the most enduring science fiction adventures of our time is the "Star Trek" franchise (I've read that, around the Paramount lot, they call it "the Franchise").

Growing up as a kid in Central Pennsylvania, I can remember watching "Star Trek" reruns every afternoon at 4, as soon as I got back home from school. For those of a certain generation --- I vividly remember watching in awe as a man first set foot on the moon, 36 years ago yesterday, when I was but a five-year-old --- the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhuru, Sulu, and Chekov were our first taste of the possibilities existing outside of our narrow, insular world. That the crew of the Enterprise also represented enduring values of friendship, loyalty, family, humor in the face of adversity was an optimistic commentary on the human condition, a hopeful vision of our future.

Now another of the original crew has died, and it's hard not to feel like we've lost a member of the family, perhaps the eccentric but beloved great-uncle. Jimmy Doohan was clearly not among the greats of his acting generation, but he nevertheless created an enduring character of depth and emotion in a supporting role, and like too few actors who are unfortunately typecast, embraced his role as a cultural icon. It's not surprising to learn that he landed on Juno Beach at Normandy on D-Day; his character among a cast that aspired to represent the better of our human nature would have been right at home in the vanguard of the liberation of Europe from the Nazi tyranny.


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