Veteran character actor Malachi Throne’s death was announced on March 14, 2013. Throne was well-known to Star Trek fans for his role as Commodore Mendez in the two-part episode “The Menagerie,” but he had more connections to Trek and other high-profile genre productions over the course of his lengthy career.
Malachi Throne dies at age 84
Malachi Throne was born in 1928 and began acting in theater productions at a young age, building up an impressive resume of stage work in New York before relocating to Los Angeles, where he became a familiar face in dozens of network television appearances. He appeared with William Shatner in the Outer Limits episode “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” and made an appearance on the spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before providing the voice of the Talosian leader in the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” When the series was picked up by NBC, Gene Roddenberry approached Throne for the role of Dr. McCoy—but Throne was only interested in the role of Spock, which was already cast. Not wanting to play the number three role in the series, Throne turned down the job. He was later cast as Commodore Mendez for “The Menagerie.” .
Malachi Throne as Mendez in "Star Trek" and Pardek in "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Throne earned himself some major publicity by playing the role of Falseface, one of the villains in the ABC hit Batman, in 1966. He initially refused credit for the character (whose face is never seen) after finding out an actress cast in the episode was earning more money than him. When the identity of Falseface became an overnight watercooler discussion (Batman episodes aired in two parts on successive prime time evenings), Throne agreed to take credit for playing Falseface in the second episode. He had an even meatier role in the Lost in Space episode “The Thief from Outer Space,” playing an Arabian Nights-style, interstellar con man opposite Ted Cassidy (who also made several Star Trek appearances), who befriends Will Robinson but ultimately loses the boy’s trust. Throne also made appearances in The Wild Wild West, The Time Tunnel (once playing Machiavelli) and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (where he once played the ghost of Blackbeard the
pirate). He was probably best known to television audiences for his regular role of Noah Bain, Robert Wagner’s superior, on the action series It Takes A Thief, but he also appeared in Mission: Impossible, Land of the Giants, a 1975 Superman TV movie, The Six Million Dollar Man, the Saturday morning sic-fi series Ark II (as War Lord Brack), Project U.F.O., Babylon 5 (as the Centauri Prime Minister), as the voice of God in Animaniacs, and played Romulan Senator Pardek in the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Unification,” making him one of a select few of actors who appeared both in the original Star Trek series and one of its spin-offs.
Throne as False Face in "Batman" and as Noah Bain with Robert Wagner in "It Takes A Thief"
Malachi Throne’s distinctively low, authoritative voice made him a natural for voiceover work and he did one job that certainly lurks in the memories of anyone old enough to remember seeing the original Star Wars in theaters: Throne narrated the first trailer for Star Wars, before John Williams’ familiar music had been recorded. “It’s a tale of heroes…and villains…” Throne’s sepulchral voice intoned, giving the impression that the upcoming space fantasy might be more scary than thrilling.
Original 1977 "Star Wars" trailer narrated by Throne
Throne made a final Star Trek appearance in the fan-produced Star Trek: New Voyages episode “In Harms Way.” I was on the set the day Throne was filming his segment and got to spend a highly enjoyable afternoon speaking with the actor and watching him work. He was a charming, highly intelligent and enormously talented man with a sly, sometimes cutting sense of humor—he didn’t suffer fools gladly but he was gracious and generous to those he worked with. I doubt anyone who grew up on genre television between the sixties and the eighties didn’t watch and enjoy a performance by Throne at least a couple of times.
Throne in fan series "Star Trek: New Voyages"