Grace Lee Whitney
April 1, 1930
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
May 1, 2015
Coarsegold, United States
Growing up in Michigan in the 1940s, Grace Lee Whitney's career first began at a young age as a singer for Detroit-area radio. Whitney's talents took her to Chicago at the end of the '40s, where she played before legendary talents such as Billie Holiday. Her singing eventually took her to New York City, where she appeared in the Broadway production of "Top Banana" in the early '50s, eventually reprising her role in the movie version of the show in 1954. At the same time, she also started appearing in films and TV shows, mostly in uncredited appearances in works such as "The Texan Meets Calamity Jane" (1950), "The Naked and the Dead" (1958), and Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" (1959). In the early '60s, Whitney started taking on bigger roles in films such as "The Man from Galveston" (1963) and Wilder's "Irma la Douce" (1963). Eventually, Whitney landed a recurring role on "Star Trek" (NBC, 1966-69) as Yeoman Janice Rand. However, her appearance as Rand, a love interest for William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk, was limited to one season as she was let go, mostly due to the fact that the network and producers thought Kirk shouldn't be tied to a single woman. Whitney was crushed by this turn of events and wound up in a state of drug-fueled depression. She continued to appear in other shows, such as "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68) and "Death Valley Days" (Syndication, 1952-1970). However, by the time the 1970s rolled around, Whitney was near rock bottom. After running into former castmate DeForest Kelley, she joined the burgeoning "Star Trek" convention scene. It reinvigorated her career, leading to her music career coming back in the form of a series of "Star Trek"-themed songs and her reappearance as Janice Rand, now a Chief Petty Officer, in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979). She followed that up with appearances in three of the next five Star Trek movies over the next 12 years. In 1996, she played Janice Rand, now a Commander, for the last time on an episode of "Star Trek Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001) to celebrate the franchise's 30th anniversary. By that time, Whitney was living in California working to help others with addiction while dealing with her own issues. For the rest of her life, she continued to appear at fan conventions, though she also would discuss addiction with those fans. Whitney died of natural causes in 2015 at the age of 85.