Book Review: ‘The Wrath of Blonde’ Is A Dishy Tale Of The Making ‘Star Trek II’ And More

The Wrath of Blonde: (The Making of Star Trek II, and Other Wild Hollywood Adventures as an Amazon in Outerspace)
Written by: Laura Banks
Paperback | $15.95
Published by Baby Books | 186 Pages

 “This is the story of me, a bit of a nobody, pretending to be a somebody, based on the fact that I have known a bunch of somebodies. Okay, not really. …I see myself in these pages as a shameless namedropper…”

To describe Laura Banks’ newest memoir as “breezy” is doing a disservice to tornadoes everywhere. In this dishy, tell-almost-all stream-of-consciousness recollection of her time in Hollywood, Banks fires off thirty brief chapters in which she might change the subject five or six times in each one! It’s a quick read, and at the center are several chapters detailing her time as a supporting actress on the set of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and her subsequent months-long relationship with its leading man, William Shatner. This makes it interesting reading for Trek fans whose (pointed?) ears are itching for somewhat edgy gossip about their favorite celebrities.

Laura Banks’ career as a stand-up comedian and actress in Los Angeles was just beginning when she was tapped by Nicholas Meyer to replace Lana Clarkson as “Khan’s Navigator,” a background role that would change her life by bringing her into the Star Trek family forever. These chapters are a lot of fun for anyone who wants to know tidbits about how these sorts of roles are cast in a Hollywood film and what life is like on set, interacting with celebrities. What did Banks think of director Nicholas Meyer? How was it working with Montalban? How do you imbue a background character with an inner life? Banks digs into these questions with vigor.

Banks has the distinction of appearing in probably the most widely used promotional image for the film, the one with Ricardo Montalban as Khan in the center, embraced by and embracing two of his most comely followers. Banks is the gal on Montalban’s left, in the gauzy tan blouse.

Laura Banks (R) in a publicity photo for Star Trek II

It was only after the film opened and Banks was appearing at a Star Trek convention that she met Shatner, and they began their brief whirlwind relationship. These chapters are juicy and give some insight into who Shatner was in those days as well as Banks’ interior life. While Banks promises in her introduction to shock and even anger readers with her outside-the-box opinions, I am not sure she delivers on that intent. But the anecdotes she relates are fun, sometimes strange, and certainly outside the everyday experience of most non-Hollywood folks.

Banks seems to have a short attention span and doesn’t dwell on any topic for very long, but returns multiple times to a few key themes, like conquering her insecurities, her dislike of holes, and her confusion-with-a-touch-of-bitterness over why she never hit it big in Tinseltown. Along the way, the reader will appreciate her insights into the importance of enjoying the life that you have even while striving for something more. Some other revelations are less insightful, like the idea that pleasure is enjoyable, or that if you are able to think positive thoughts all the time, you will generally be happier. Still, I read the book for the Star Trek II background anecdotes and the celebrity gossip, and I was not disappointed in either respect.

The Wrath of Blonde: (The Making of Star Trek II, and Other Wild Hollywood Adventures as an Amazon in Outerspace) is available now in paperback at Amazon for $15.95.

Banks has written a number of memoirs and self-help books, including Embracing Your Big Fat Ass: An Owner’s Manual, Breaking the Rules: Last-Ditch Tactics for Landing the Man of Your Dreams, a Parody, and Love Online, a book about internet relationships. She starred in three B-movies in the 1980s—Wheels of Fire, Demon of Paradise, and Retreads—and maintains a website, with her filmography and links to buy her books.

This summer, Banks will be signing at a number of fan conventions including various GalaxyCons, Creation’s 57-Year Mission Las Vegas, Trekonderoga, and Monsterama. She will also be doing stand-up comedy in some of the same towns along the way.

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I remember when Vokar told me she had poses in some men’s mag (OUI maybe?) She was interviewed in starlog, didn’t know she was a standup or about Clarkson. Color me mildly intrigued (esp given Shatner was still very much married to Marcy during this period.) Would have figured him for hititandquitit stuff rather than lengthy assignations.

The wrath of shatners (ex)wife?

Oh my, the stuff I used to read.

She had a name? Making a career out of being set dressing.

Have you ever looked at guest lineups at any of these conventions or cruises? If you catered a Trek show in the last fifty years you likely can score a booth.

I don’t even remember the actress or her character and I’ve seen the movie dozens of times. Outside of Khan obviously and Joachim the rest basically just felt like glorified extras.

Well, that’s what they were. She’s clearly figured out jow to cash in on or fifteen minutes of fame, nothing wrong with that. Considering the alternative ending for Ms. Clarkson with Phil Spector…. we’ll just leave that there.

No, but it’s funny how she waited 40 years later to cash in. But it looks like she’s a successful author now so I guess it’s just a side project for her.

Well, as the good cast of P-S3 pointed out when asked about more TNG, she isn’t getting any younger.

She and the other one featured heavily in the promotion photos with Khan. along with Kirstie Alley with David, Spock and just her. the Trek II promo guys must’ve been like ‘look we have hot women, with hair this time!’

Her only line is played off camera during a ship flyby.

I thought the other girl was kinda cute, plus she actually gets to beam up the Genesis device off Regulae.

Self-published, which is rarely a sign of quality.

Not true.

Not untrue, much of the time.

I dunno. These days? How many people have become famous off of self published you tube videos?

“which is rarely a sign of quality”

I got a good laugh reading this from the resumee on her website:
Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan– Paramount Studios (Photos of me became the face of this legendary film.)”

Never particularly noticed her before, let along as “the face of” the film

Agreed. This article is the first time I ever actually recall seeing her. Of course I was a kid when this movie came out.

I remember this being the first pic out, it was on page 2 of the San Jose Mercury News. It had a weird vibe for me back then, especially the punk rock look, like they were leveraging off ROAD WARRIOR, which hit theaters around the time TWOK started shooting.

It was a Heavy Metal look. Which was ludicrous and one of the things that took me out of the film.

I never knew she was in Streets Of Fire, she certainly didn’t star in it, that was Diane Lane, Michael Pare and Rick Moranis. Did she skip mentioning her appearance in Oui magazine?