'Star Trek' Stalwart Michael Ansara Dies at 91

Mike Barnes
'Star Trek' Stalwart Michael Ansara Dies at 91

Michael Ansara, the rugged character actor who played Klingon commander Kang on three different Star Trek TV series, has died. He was 91.

Ansara, who was married to actress Barbara Eden of I Dream of Jeannie fame, died July 31 at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a prolonged illness, his former publicist, Michael B. Druxman, said.

Born in a small village in Syria to American parents, Ansara starred as Native Americans on two 1950s primetime series: the ABC Western Broken Arrow as Cochise and as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart, an Apache, on NBC's Law of the Plainsman.

Ansara is beloved by Star Trek fans as one of only seven actors to play the same character on three versions of the sci-fi series: on the original (in the 1968 episode "Day of the Dove"), on Deep Space Nine (1994's "Blood Oath") and on Voyager (1996's "Flashback"). Kang was a legendary warrior.

He also had major roles in such films as 1953's Julius Caesar and The Robe (as Judas); Jupiter’s Darling (1955); 1961's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (he also appeared in the subsequent ABC series); The Comancheros (1961) with John Wayne; The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969); The Bears and I (1974); The Message (1977); and It’s Alive (1974).

Ansara came to the U.S. with his American parents at the age of 2. As a teen, he and his family relocated to California, and he entered Los Angeles City College with the intention of becoming a doctor.

A stint at the Pasadena Playhouse (where fellow students included Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones and Aaron Spelling) led to roles on stage and in films.

He was married to Eden from 1958-74. Their son, Matthew Michael Ansara, died in 2001.

More to come …