Interview: Grace Lee Whitney Talks Past and Future Rands

Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) only appeared in 8 episodes in the first season of Star Trek before being let go amid some controversy. But fans remembered Yeoman Rand and she came back (as Lt. JG Rand) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. She went on to appear in three more Trek films (III, IV & VI) and even an episode of Star Trek Voyager (‘Flashback’). She is again reprising her role for the new independent Trek film ‘Of Gods And Men’. TrekMovie chatted with the actress about playing Rand again as well as her thoughts on a new Rand for Star Trek XI.

TrekMovie: I know some actors are playing their original characters and others have new roles for ‘Of Gods and Men’, what can you tell me about your character?

Grace Lee Whitney: I am my original character, but in the beginning I am kind of different, and then at the end I am me again with Pavel.

TM: do you mean with Pavel or ‘with Pavel’? You guys aren’t an item are you?

GLW: Oh no no no. No it is just a nice scene with him at the end, and I also have a scene with Uhura

TM: You never got to play an ‘alternative’ version of your character before have you?

GLW: No not until this one, I was always so ‘goody goody’ I was the girl next door type, except for the rape scene in ‘The Enemy Within’  

TM: What was it like doing that scene?

GLW: It was very difficult. Roddenberry was there and he wanted it to be real but glamorous. And I thought ‘how can you do that?’ I was very black and blue for a while. Shatner threw me around for a while and I did all my stunts. We did many takes. Then to make it even harder, afterwards I had to do just the opposite scene when I go cry to Spock. But I was very happy with the work. 

TM: How did you get involved with Sky Conway (producer for Of Gods and Men)

GLW: I met Sky through Star Trek Voyages and James Cawley, then we did Jimmy Doohan’s convention. The next thing I got a call from them asking if I wanted to be in a movie with Walter and Nichelle, and I said ‘yes, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the New Voyages.

TM: What are you doing with New Voyages?

GLW: They want me to play the mother of the new Rand. We also talked about Sulu on the Excelsior

TM: Regarding a ‘Captain Sulu’ how, that was something that George Takei was lobbying for. How serious did Paramount take the idea?

GLW: The idea was going to be a mini series, every three or four months they would do a 2 hour show. This was being talked about before Enterprise, there was a big campaign on the internet. I actually gave George (Takei) the idea. It was going to be ‘George and Gracie’ on the Excelsior. But in the end they went with Enterprise.

TM: What do you think about this fan film movement, did you think this would be happening?

GLW: A lot of people want to be part of this whole movement. Look at John Tesh, he played a vulcan on Star Trek The Motion Picture because he wanted to be a vulcan all his life. He is a big fan, which is the reason I got interviewed on Entertainment Tonight. Now other people still want to be involved, it’s great.

TM: Have you seen any of the new Remastered Original Series shows CBS is doing?

GLW: Yes I saw ‘Balance of Terror’ I liked it.

TM: That is the episode where you get act afraid and Kirk has to comfort you… 

Yah, it was very campy, it was almost like Batman but there was no  POWs and WOWs, I did Batman too right before Trek. It was hard not to be campy with Shatner, although he was very dramatic. He is a Shakespearean actor

TM: What was he like on set, was he funny?

Oh god yes, he was phenomenally funny, I thought it should have been a comedy. The old show was much funnier than the new shows, the new shows are much too serious.

TM: You were also in many of the Trek movies, including the first one Star Trek: The Motion Picture, what was it like working with Robert Wise?

Well he was a great director, but he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. I didn’t like my costume it was too austere, and he took off all my make-up, so there was no Yeoman Rand stuff, no sex appeal. He was very straight, but years later I got to be friends with he and his wife Millie, who was an extra with me on the movie. She is a wonderful woman and a big fan of Trek, and so was Robert.

TM: Which of the films you were in was your favorite?

GLW: I love ‘(Star Trek) The Motion Picture’, but (Star Trek) IV was my favorite. I loved the direction of Leonard Nimoy, who was my drama coach and it had a lot of comedy in it.  

TM: As you may have heard, there are rumors that JJ Abrams may set the next Trek film in the Original series era and would be recasting some of the original characters. How do you feel about that?

GLW: He did Alias and Lost right? those are very good, he knows what he is doing. I don’t have a problem with it.

TM: …and what do you think of a new actress playing Rand?

GLW: As long as she was young and beautiful that would be fine, of course.

TM: There are also some rumors that Abrams is interested in Matt Damon as the new Kirk, what do you think of that choice?

Wouldn’t that be something? Oh my gosh yes.


find out more about ‘Of Gods and Men’ at the official site 

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I can almost guarantee there will be few comments here…. One. She’s a minor character. Two… unlike other minor characters (that shall remain nameless…marinasirtis.. garretwang… cough, cough)… she didn’t trash her co-stars, directors, show or how well the warp nacelles match the original series orange on the remastered TOS.

So there. LOL

I like Yeoman Rand,

She was another example of independent, fiercely professional, no nonsense female character depiction on the series,

It’s a shame she got the boot for being a drunk ;)

Her uniform is too orange! It’s a travesty I tell you.

We have to campaign that CBS digital correctly depicts her uniform. I’ve seen many other examples on the net of her uniform correctly depicted, we want it done RIGHT!

Down to the visually inconsistent Yeoman Rand orange uniform!
It doesn’t “feel right.”


Star Trek: Excelsior- The Mini-Series would have been great! Ah, Berman, I guarantee you he blocked that from happening. But seriously, imagine the potential of that project. It’s too late now, but 6 years ago, that would have been very cool.

As for Trek XI, IF they decide to include a cadet Rand or what have you, I nominate Kristen Bell from Veronica Mars, she’s my geek crack-cocaine.

meh. I never went in much for Rand… Now, the brunette that played the Mirror Mirror hottie… yeah *drool*

Star Trek: Excelsior? Ugh… we got a preview of what that would have been in that awful Voyager Flashback episode… Stiff and painful acting from Takei and Whitney did nothing to convince me that a show featuring the “also also starring” folks from TOS would have been anything more than a sideshow. And please… the character of Rand was very rarely anything more than pulchritude for Kirk to grab onto when the ship was in danger… I admit, it would have been interesting to see her in “Shore Leave” in the Rand character that they replaced with Yeoman Barrows… but the character was in no way representative of an advanced future female… she was firmly rooted in 60s stereotypes.

The studio never had a serious interest in doing “Excelsior”, and the Internet “fan campaign” was very limited in participation. No one at Paramount “blocked” it, because it was never under consideration, no matter how many fans and TOS folks claim the contrary.

I thought she communicated her compassion for Capt. Kirk in her character very well and gave the show more emotional dimension.Had she been written into the show she could have given the Kirk character more emotional depth.What you do have is essentially a show about a bunch of old boys and their bonds. which is great if your a 14 year old boy which is where ST was going with their audience.I mean look at Kirk’s relationships with women.Very shallow.

“I mean look at Kirk’s relationships with women.Very shallow. ”


I suppose they ought to sit around discussing Foucault over seared lemon-sprinkled shark fillet with ginger sake.

I mourn the present generation with their effeminate, untutored notions of sex, women, courtship and manhood. (although I suppose SSRIs, unrelenting government propaganda and threats of police action will do that to you…)

jon I suggest you rethink the following characters and integrate them into your worldview because there is much to commend them (considering thir status as subplots in a television program):

1. Edith Keeler
2. Ruth
3. Lenore Karidian

heck, even

4. Shanna the drill thrall

has something to teach today’s ignorant boys about men and women and their natural instincts.

Son, there was a time before feminism, before affirmative action, and before police and courts were used to enforce both on an unwilling public, when men led and women followed. Of course, they also tried to earn each other’s respect — but free love pretty much killed that off in the 1970s. (The proof of that pudding is in the birth rates which have plummeted since Women’s Lib…)

PS: GLW was a true Babe and it’s a crying shame what happened to her in the late 60s/early 70s. But her repentance and rebirth is an inspiration to many who have “hit bottom”.

If the Flashback Voyager episode was any indication and Excelcior show would have been just as boring as any other Berman Trek. Lifeless and poorly acted. Lets be glad it never happened.

As for Grace, shes a drunk old born again has-been. Who cares what she has to say.

Old timey…and how many episodes did each one of them last?Same as the rest .One.True the 3 you mentioned did explore more depth with the Kirk character but Kirk was basically written as a character with NO regular love interest (not including himself).I’m anti-feminist.I believe that feminism evolved out of a man’s failure to lead (acting like a pimp would be one).a real man stays with his woman instead of running from his issues and jumping in and out of shallow relationships.

Mark 2000 Wow…she’s born-again!Well then she’s no has-been..when God sees her he sees the righteousness of Christ.That’s far from being a has been, to have the creator of the universe lavish one with such allocade.She found what V’ger and Spock were looking for(metaphorically speaking).

I cannot believe you guys found about 4 things to argue about (or in Mark2000’s case….insult) in that interview. God Thang was partly right.. she was a body for Kirk to grab onto once in awhile… but the 60’s sterotype thing… hmmmm, yeah…. but as I WAS the 60’s. Look at the “miniskirts-in-space” uniforms.
As for ST:Excelsior, haven’t most of the “also starring” actors lately stated they thought another series was coming…. with them in a larger role? Or complained about the show they just got out of? At least this lady didn’t trash everyone.
… and Josh, thanks for catching and my poor sense of humor. It was wasted on the rest of the posts I noticed…LOL

I’m delighted to learn your perspective! Keep in mind that there was already many programs featuring family men — “Father Knows Best”, “The Donna Reed Show”, “The Munsters”, “The Addams Family” and even “Lost in Space”.

Besides, Trek was consciously patterned after the 19C British navy captain “Horatio Hornblower” and domestic complications would work against the story as we learned in TNG.

Wanna have a chuckle? Look up the traditional lyrics to the sea chanty “Bell Bottom Trousers”: “never trust a sailor an inch above the knee” and “climing up the rigging like his daddy used to do!”

Kirk, whose name is a Scottish variant of ‘church’, is positively a choir boy compared to the sailor in the song!

Jon, theres no God. Get over it.

Thanks for the obvious and direct introduction of reason into the thread. I’d started to think I mistakingly clicked into some kind of freaky trek/church cult thing.

Yeoman Rand was just Kirks bouncey – bouncey and slippie – sliddie…!
At best she was just eye candy and with all the penny candy readily available why would they honestly need her…her milk balls were old!

Mark 2000.I hope your pleasantly suprised.

Jon, heavan as described the the bible doesn’t seem that pleasant to me. You, of course, won’t exist to be disappointed.

I crushed on Grace Lee Whitney as a young child….Never got over her!

Ms. Whitney is lovely as ever and I still crush on her to this day….40 years later…..

How do I book Grace Lee Whitney for a speaking engagement at the Beacon House of San Pedro? I am Donnie Ferguson, master magician/stage hypnotist, now in recovery, and doing public speaker/relations liason work for this fine organization. I spoke with Grace back in 2000, then lost track of her. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Contact me at my email address:
Thank you kindly! Regards, Donnie/San Pedro, CA

Well we can all dispute the existance / non-existance of GOD till the cows come home…what is NOT in dispute is my eternal attraction for the still lovely Grace Lee Whitney.

She’s still a girl I’d like to have a quiet drink with…

Re: 20 _ me too. I’m 38. I was MAD about Yeoman Rand when I was a kid. Charlie X was just the bee’s knees! Blinded by my crush then and reactivating now since bringing it up again – I would want to see more of Rand in any capacity. Even if she is 75 years old today. I periodically search for “Grace Lee Whitney” news/bits and pieces on the Internet still. TOS was magic and she was part of the magic.

sexy at 77?

cmon folks

Grace Lee Whitney is hot stuff. Always was.

Yeoman Rand became a minor character only because of she is a victim of circumstance…. her character was booted from the show. If you watch the early episodes, it is easy to see that she was the most prominent female crewmember on board the Enterprise, a mantle inherited by Lt. Uhura.

I saw a recent photo of Ms. Whitney, I think dated 2006-7. She is still beautiful. I had a crush on her as did all my guy friends who were trekkies. I realise I still do! We all age, and she has done it so very gracefully. Beautiful.

I love Rand and Grace Lee Whitney, i always wished she was there for TOS’s full run. Bummer.

Comments such as “has been, born again, old drunk ” say much more about yourself as a human being than they do of Grace lee Whitney, a beautiful woman who was and should have continued to be a much more utilized member of the Trek family as intended by Gene Roddenberry! I too had a crush on GLW as a child and still revel in her appearances every time I rewatch TOS! It would have made more sense to include her as a regular, even if not as a love interest for Kirk, than a seemingly endless string of yeomans throughout the series run! Grace is just that as her name denotes, “Graceful” and a kind “gracious” human being, how dare someone attack such a lovely person! Shame on you, truly you do not prescribe to the Gene Roddenberry philosophies you claim to … the message of Trek has been lost on you… too bad for you!

WTF So she had a role then Gene Rottenberry Raped then fired her. Thats pretty crappy. Shatner should have beat up that old fat axx

I am, Anti-Abortion, Anti-gayrights, Pro-Israel, Old fashion Christian Values

Pro-Israel, Old Fashion Christian Values

Rand was awesome. It would have been much more fun to have her as a recurring guest instead of various yeomen of the week in the later episodes.

I seriously hope Rand is brought back for the NuTrek sequel.

The word is they eliminated her character because they didn’t want a love interest for Kirk on board, so he could have a different one each week. But they could have just written it so she wasn’t a love interest — if you watch the episodes she did, this was never developed very much anyway. They also got rid of Riley, who I thought was a great character. Despite the fact that for it’s time, TOS was great, in retrospect, some of the writing was pretty poor. How many parallel-earth planets could there be? Space hippies? And of course, the worst of all, Spock’s Brain. In my opinion, about one third of the episodes are classics and really good, one third are rather poor, and one third in between. I also think Star Trek II, IV, and VI were good, and I, III, and V not so much — the original cast movies. Only, “First Contact,” with TNG cast was good with that cast.

Grace is, was, and always will be absolutly gorgeous. From that gorgeous blonde hair to those beautiful deep eyes. I had a crush on her from the onset in the original series and it cvarried on through all of the subsequent films. Her downfall and rebirth as a person is a testiment to her strength as a woman and as a person. I always said if i could ever ask her a question in person it would be ” Was that all your own hair in TOS and if so how long did it take to put it up?”

Hi Grace..I don’t know if you are the person that I met at the mail box one day a few years back, but I believe it ws. I am not going to say where that was to keep your privacy safe. Just that it is in the foot hills north of Fresno.
You were having trouble with your car. Anyway, just wanted to say that if that way you (and I heard that you lived in the area) I loved watching yoo on TV. I met Machelle at a Star Trek Convention about 35 years ago. I just got dressed up and hung out by the back door, and they assumed I was part of the crew..Too funny. If you know what you are doing, you can pretty much get into anything. I was a limo driver for over 20 years in Hawaii and Las Vegas. Just wanted to say hi and if you do live near Chuckchansi Gold Casino, that was me you met at the mail box. If it was you, send me an email and and maybe we can have lucnh sometime. John, from 007, used to live in the area too..I hope you are doing well. Star Trek was one of my favorite shows in the old days..gosh, were those the old days. Hope it was you. Judy

I believe Grace Lee Whitney was raped by Gene Roddenberry, then canned.

After a Friday night wrap party, a man that Grace calls “The Executive” lured her into an empty office away from the rest of the party to discuss “possibilities” for her character on the show. She then goes on to describe how this friendly man turned violent and wouldn’t let her leave until she performed sexually for him.

Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that,
but I can’t take it down and it is in Grace’s own book.
“The Executive” that could discuss possibilities
for her character on the show
…sounds like Roddenberry…check out his bio