William Campbell, who portrayed the god-like child Trelane and Klingon warrior Koloth on the original Star Trek, has passed away at the age of 84. TrekMovie has confirmed that Campbell died last night at the Motion Picture & Television County Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California following a long illness. See below for more on Campbell and his career.
Campbell’s Trek: From Child to Klingon
Campbell made his debut to the Star Trek universe in the 1967 original series episode “The Squire of Gothos” as Trelane, a powerful yet puerile being who turned out to be nothing more than a spoiled child. The following season, he played Klingon commander Koloth in fan-favorite “The Trouble with Tribbles.” (Koloth also appeared in the animated episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles,” but he was voiced by James Doohan.) Campbell reprised the role as Koloth nearly twenty-seven years later in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Blood Oath.” He was one of the three core original series Klingons to appear in “Blood Oath;” the others were Kor, played by the late John Colicos, and Kang, played by Michael Ansara. Campbell also played Koloth in the video game Star Trek: Judgment Rites, but, unlike Colicos’ Kor and Ansara’s Kang, he did not appear in any subsequent Star Trek episodes.
Campbell as Trelane & Koloth on TOS & Koloth on DS9
Campbell’s life and career
Campbell was born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 30, 1926. He made his feature acting debut in Michael Curtiz’ 1950 film noir The Breaking Point, and continued working steadily as a character actor until the late 1970s. He had supporting roles in several classic films, including Operation Pacific (1951), Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), The High and the Mighty (1954), Battle Cry (1955), The Naked and the Dead (1958), and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). He also co-starred in Elvis Presley’s first feature, 1955’s Love Me Tender, becoming the first actor to ever sing with Presley in a motion picture. One of his few leading roles was in the Roger Corman-produced 1963 cult horror-thriller Dementia 13, which was the first film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Star Trek was not the last time Campbell worked with series creator Gene Roddenberry; one of his last features was the 1971 caper comedy Pretty Maids All in a Row, which Roddenberry wrote and produced. This film also reunited Campbell with TOS regular James Doohan. Additionally, Campbell appeared on seen on such TV shows as Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Streets of San Francisco, Quincy, M.E., and Ironisde. He retired from acting in 1996; his appearance on Deep Space Nine was one of his last two acting jobs.