The final frontiersmen: 6 times Star Trek actors appeared on classic westerns
Six times Enterprise crewmembers traded blasters for revolvers
Outerspace might seem lightyears away from the wild west, but the two are closer than you might expect. The sprawling scope of shows Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke and The Rifleman each pulled galactic stars into their cowboy orbit orbit.
With hundreds of episodes spanning the 1950s, '60s and '70s, it's no suprise that a lot of these shows' call sheets crossed over with the voyages of the USS Enterprise. For eagle-eyed Trekkies and casual viewers alike, here are six times that Star Trek crew members saddled up and hit the dusty trail!
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1. Leonard Nimoy
Well before Whoopi Goldberg tended bar on the USS Enterprise as Guinan, Leonard Nimoy was slinging sasparrillas as a bartender in an episode of Bonanza. In the 1960 episode "The Ape," Nimoy made his first Bonanza appearance as Freddy, a character mostly relegated to the background of continuing Cartwright drama. Nimoy would also star in the 1995 TV film Bonanza: Under Attack!
2. DeForest Kelley
Bones on the Range: Dr. Leonard McCoy himself appears as another doctor on the 1962 Bonanza episode "The Decision." Here, Kelley is Dr. Michael Jons, a physician who has been arrested on suspicion of murder. When Hoss suffers a life-threatening injury, it's up to the Carwrights to determine whether Jons hangs for his crimes.
3. James Doohan
In the 1962 episode "Gift of Water," Hoss and the Carwrights are pulled into a conflict between flatlands families and high country ranchers involving a drought. Along for the ride is Star Trek's Scotty. Although Doohan doesn't have much to do, he is joined on this episode of Bonanza by another Starfleet soon-to-be.
4. Majel Barrett
In that very same episode, "Gift of Water," Doohan is joined by the First Lady of Star Trek. Barrett, known for her roles as Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi and the voice of most of the computer interfaces in the original series, was also married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbury. Luckily for Trekkies, she's more heavily featured in this episode of Bonanza than James Doohan is.
5. William Shatner
Before sitting in command at the captain's chair on the flight deck, James Tiberius Kirk played a suspected counterfeiter on an episode of The Big Valley. Playing Jarrod Barkley's old friend from school, William Shatner rouses the suspicions of the Secret Service in the 1966 episode "A Time to Kill."
6. Grace Lee Whitney
While Whitney's character Janice Rand was cut midway through Star Trek's first season due to budgetary restraints, the actress did appear Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and The Big Valley. Whitney would later leave the world of saloons and shootouts to re-enter the Trek world in three of the first six theatrical releases.
That's budgetary CONstraints.
Shatner made his sole Gunsmoke appearance in the episode "Quaker Girl", which aired shortly after Trek's debut episode in 1966. He played a villain, but he did save Roger Torrey's character, so he wasn't all bad.
Nimoy did a few Gunsmokes, including the episode "Treasure of John Walking Fox", which aired a few months before Trek's debut.
Hi Yo, Silver, away!” Just a thought🤔
Nice to see Grace Lee Whitney included in an article. I wonder how many other of the minor/reoccurring background actors also did the rounds of westerns?
RE # 1. " Well before Whoopi Goldberg tended bar on the USS Enterprise as Guinan" perked some curiosity.
Was surprised to see how many other ( not necessarily western based) actors have " guest starred" on the different versions of the " Star Trek Franchise". That would make for an interesting future story. (hint,hint). 🖖🖖