TrekMovie is saddened to report that actress Grace Lee Whitney, who portrayed Janice Rand in the original Star Trek series and in many of the movies and spinoffs, died of natural causes on May 1 in Coarsegold, California. She was 85.
Before Star Trek she appeared in films, like the classic Some Like It Hot, and guest starred on many television series in the 1950’s and 1960’s, including The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip, The Outer Limits, and Bewitched.
Grace portrayed Yeoman Janice Rand in 8 episodes of the The Original Series before being written out of the show. In the following years she became an alcoholic and was literally out on the streets before finally beating the disease and getting her life and career back on track. She often credited Leonard Nimoy, who also struggled with alcoholism, with helping her seek treatment.
She returned to the Star Trek universe in 1979 with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, when she once again portrayed Janice Rand, who was now the Enterprise’s Transporter Chief. She played Rand again in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and the Voyager episode “Flashback”. She also appeared in the fan productions “World Enough and Time” and “Of Gods and Men”.
Whitney was also a regular on the convention circuit, where she loved meeting the fans and, according to her son Jonathan, tried to help those who were also dealing with addiction. Her family also stated that, as much as she liked being identified with Star Trek and Rand, she would prefer to be remembered as a “successful survivor of addiction”.
William Shatner noted Grace’s passing, and how he always remembers her:
Condolences to the family of Grace. She was a constant shining smile over the years every time our paths crossed.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 4, 2015
TrekMovie would also like to extend condolences to Grace’s family and friends. She will be missed.