Actress Grace Lee Whitney, best known as Yeoman Janice Rand on the original Star Trek series, died on May 1 in Coarsegold, California, her family confirmed. She was 85.
Whitney, a recovering alcoholic, spent the last 35 years of her life helping people with addiction problems through women’s prisons or the Salvation Army. Her family told NBC News that Whitney would prefer to be remembered as “a successful survivor of addiction” rather than for her role in Star Trek.
Born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1930, Whitney started out as a dancer before being cast as Janice Rand, Star Fleet yeoman and personal assistant to William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk, in the first season of Star Trek. Dropped from the show after eight episodes, she turned to drugs and alchohol before getting treatment and rebuilding her career with help from castmate Leonard Nimoy. (“I’m going to miss him terribly and I feel lost. It was a big loss for me,” Whitney said after Nimoy died earlier this year.)
Whitney returned to the Star Trek universe for the movie franchise, reprising her role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By her last appearance, her character had been promoted to lieutenant.
Whitney was active at Star Trek fan conventions. Her autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, was released in 1998.