We all know about the main supporting cast of Star Trek. Lt. Uhura, Lt. Sulu, Ensign Checkov, Nurse Chapel, Yeoman Rand, and Mr. Scott were all regular players with important roles in the action of the original series. However, the show also created a sense of verisimilitude with another level of players, supernumeraries. These spear, or phaser, carriers may not have had lines (though many did) but they appeared in multiple episodes as crew members, thereby creating continuity. Sometimes, though, that continuity might have been set askew by outfitting them in different uniforms and occasionally having them show up as aliens or civilians filling out the background. After working my way through the series this year, I thought it would be fun to create a run down on the cast supporting the supporting cast.
My first entry is Dr. M’Benga (Booker Bradshaw). This sawbones made such an impression that many people, myself included, were surprised to realize that he only appeared in two episodes. In “A Private Little War,” his background interning in a Vulcan ward provided him with the knowledge that in order to bring Mr. Spock out of a healing trance, the first officer needed a good sock in the kisser. Poor Nurse Chapel, following Dr. M’Benga’s instructions, ended up in a tussle with Scotty, who didn’t understand why she was smacking Spock around. Fortunately, Dr. M’Benga arrived on the scene to slap Mr. Spock back to consciousness.
We might wonder if Mr. Spock thought the good doctor had been a little too good with his rough prescription. In “That Which Survives,” Spock verbally slices down the doctor for being a bit too cheery about pronouncing he has no idea why a crewman had died from having every cell in his body exploded. Then again, when crewman are dropping left and right (some not even in red shirts!), maybe a playful attitude about your ignorance deserves a cool comeuppance.
Even after the series ended, Dr. M’Benga’s popularity in the Star Trek universe lived on. He has been a major character in Star Trek novels and some non-canonical works. Everybody and his brother has a first name for him. Memory Alpha provides a nice bio of the character with more details. Actor Booker Bradshaw has the intriguing background of graduating from Harvard University, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and acting as talent manager for The Supremes (IMDB and Find a Grave)!
Lt. Palmer (Elizabeth Rogers): Uhura has to sleep sometime! So, in two episodes, we find Lt. Palmer taking over for her at the communications panel: “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Way to Eden.” With her blonde beehive and patrician features, Palmer remains stoic and efficient in times of adversity, be it an omnivorous space Hoover, a nutso commodore commandeering the Enterprise, or really obnoxious space hippies. She must be fairly high in Communications, because she’s the only member of the department who, like Uhura, knew how to repair the Communications equipment. Enterprise GRRRLS do science!
In one Star Trek short story, her first name was revealed to be Elizabeth – a tip of the hat to the actress who played her. In at least one of the appearances, Palmer replaced Uhura because Nichelle Nichols had a singing commitment to fulfill. Reports differ as to which episode this was, but Rogers herself said that she was used as “an instant ‘threat’ replacement.” This last statement is according to Wikkipedia, which I am loathe to quote because they’re frequently soooo wrong about stuff; however, the writer of the article did cite These Are the Voyages, Season Two as the source.
Rogers is an interesting actress. On Star Trek, she also voiced “The Companion” in “Metamorphosis.” If you watch much sixties or seventies TV, you are likely to see her in a guest-starring role. Further, she was a friend of producer Irwin Allen and played in The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. I didn’t catch her in the second film (though I’ll be sure to look for her next time), but I remember her in The T.I. She’s the first one to ride the captain’s chair across the cable strung between two skyscrapers – and she’s screaming all the way! Planet-devouring doomsday weapons and pain-in-the-ass space hippies are nothing to her – but heights? That’s another matter! Memory Alpha and Memory Beta are solid sources for more information on the character and the actress.
Mr. John Farrell (Jim Goodwin) Like Dr. M’Benga, Mr. Farrell only appeared in a limited number of episodes. Three to be exact. Usually, he was navigator, though the gold-shirted young officer with reddish hair and slightly protruding eyes did take a turn at Uhura’s console in “Miri.” This installment of “Phaser Carriers,” we just seem to keep catching our girl Nyota off-shift! We discover that Farrell’s first name is John when Sulu refers to him as “Johnny-O” after they both have been knocked off kilter by the hormone-stimulating drugs of “Mud’s Women.” In this episode, poor also John Farrell gets schnoockered out of a communicator by one of Mudd’s gals, Magda. Interestingly, according to Memory Alpha and The Lost Redshirt sites, some dialogue cut from the scene reveals that Farrell had a girlfriend and was thinking of growing a mustache! Anyway, he’s not doing too well in the formal inquiry of Harcourt Fenton Mudd and his hotties, is he?
Also like M’Benga, Mr. Farrell made it into Star Trek short-story adaptations of episodes and other fiction. Though Farrell was scheduled for more appearances, his character was replaced in “Charlie X” and “The Naked Time.” Hmm, if it had been Farrell instead of Riley who’d been infected with the inhibition-freeing virus, maybe we would have discovered what his girl friend’s name was, with him singing, “I’ll take you home…?” James Goodwin, who played Farrell, was friends with associate producer John D.F. Black, so when Black left the series, our actor’s connection disappeared – and so did Farrell. Interesting to other New Englanders, Goodwin was from Boston and passed away at fifty years young in Beverly, Mass. There’s great detail on the character at Memory Alpha, Memory Beta, IMDB, and at the tale end of Tales of the Unknown Redshirt.
Images: author’s screen shots from original episodes (no copyright infringement intended, informational and educational use only)
Well, here I go trying to create a new blog with WordPress’s Godawful new editor. Forgive me if this comes out crappy. It’s taken me forever to figure out how to switch back and forth between html editor and visual-nothing is clearly labeled or explained. I know this format is much uglier than the one I had previously. We’re all at the mercy of tasteless, unimaginative, homogenizing forces.
Anyway, let’s move on to a more enjoyable descent into darkness. Here’s a last gasp at wintry images with Part 2 of my report on the Hillside Cemetery of North Adams. Across the street from the original portion of the graveyard, lonely mountains rise up to close you you in and the rest of the world out on this grey day.
This is the newer portion of Hillside, and much more on an actual hillside. With the rolling slopes here, the graves, mostly 19th century, tilt and are almost upended as the ground has settled and shifted over the years-or is someone or something trying to push out?
And those slopes are pretty darned high, too, with gravestones and monuments, bleakly, implacably towering upward from an earth both browned by autumn and frosted by snow.
This cemetery has it’s share of intriguing, impressive statuary, but the brutal western Massachusetts winds, rain, and snow have not been kind to them, gradually wearing them down to softened blurs in many cases. The dove embracing this shrouded cross has lost its distinctive features and now softly merges into the cross’s drapery. The child and the lamb, representing her innocence, have melted into the seat of broken rocks symbolizing her life cut too short, too soon. A relief that should have preserved a woman’s identity in endurable stone for eternity has blurred her features into gentle vagueness. Even her identity in the form of name, family, and birth and death dates have been smoothed away to soft whiteness. A book of life’s secrets has subsumed its truths into a creamy blank of pages melted together, marked only by the stain of mold and decay. Or might this be an edition of the Necronomicon?
Of course there are also still striking images of angels and symbolic broken columns, some standing relentless against nature’s assault by winds, weather, and devouring by lichen and mold.
Some are less successful than others in resisting the assaulting elements, but are no less beautiful.
There was only one large mausoleum in this portion of the cemetery-but it is impressive, especially for the art deco angel guarding the resting bodies of the family beneath. There’s a wonderful starkness in its rising near the crest of the rolling hill, the dark tree grasping hungry branches at the sky beyond it.
And here is a closeup of the angel. Regard the myriad layers of feathers creating a shield of wings behind its head, seeming both like a peacock’s tail in full extension and a wall of tongues of flames.
The day had been cold, but not bitterly so. The ground betrayed the tracks of deer, racoon, and perhaps more predatory mammals. It was an isolated spot where no human seemed to have ventured to grieve or pay veneration for a very long time. In fact, this day this cemetery seemed like a place lost to time, to human connections. Thank goodness I saw this cute guy and not some colour out of space.
Those of you who know me, know what a tremendous Supremes fan I am. So, you can imagine my sadness at the recent passing of Mary Wilson, one of the groups founding members. Mary was such an extraordinary woman. In addition to that delicious smoky alto of hers putting feeling and power into so much music, she contributed tremendously to making the world a better place. She and her fellow Supremes helped break down racial barriers in the 1960s and ’70s, she gave herself generously to help others through her work to protect the rights of recording artists, drew on her own experience as an abused spouse to encourage and support others in the same situation, helped at-risk young people here and abroad, acted as good will ambassador for the U.S., and supported the efforts of the Humpty-Dumpty Institute against the use of landmines.
Mary also helped so many people around her on a personal level to believe in themselves and follow their dreams to become the people they wanted to be. She loved her children and grandchild. And she was wonderful with her fans, never treating them as beneath her. She welcomed everyone with sincerity, graciousness, and humor. You knew she was just as happy to see you as you were to meet her. She had a sense of humor about herself and could tease in a way that was fun. And she loved life, especially these last years, still singing and performing to delighted audiences, competing on on Dancing with the Stars, publishing a delightful book on the Supremes’ magnificant gowns and the stories behind them, starting her own YouTube channel, and even announcing the cd re-release of her solo album with new and never before released material. We’ll miss her joy and warmth, but we’ll carry her in our hearts for all the love she gave us. I think these lines from “Nature Boy” sum up her bond with us perfectly: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and to be loved in return.”
Here’s Mary sharing her philosophy of life with us in a fairly recent release: “Life’s Been Good to Me.”
Dancing with the Stars Photo: https://dancingwiththestars.fandom.com/wiki/Mary_Wilson
Other Photos shared from web sites Mary Wilson of the Supremes: New Ways but Love Stays; Motown 1970: Not Just Another Record Company; Seventies Supremes,
If you feel your rights have been infringed by the posting of any of these photos, please contact me and I will remove them. Photos posted for personal or educational reasons. No profit is derived from this post.
The Saturday after the elections, to get away from all the stress, Yang and I took a four-mile hike on the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail. It was something! The trail leads through woods in Chester to one of the oldest set of stone railroad bridges in the country. And some of these bridges are still in use! Here is the first of these arched granite bridges that we saw, one that is still used. We just missed the train going over it.
To get to the other arch bridges, you have to do some hiking through the forests. The paths run along the river and then up and down some semi-tough slopes. However, the work is certainly worth it. There were some cool views of woods, streams, and rock formations.
Before we got to the other bridges, we came across some interesting abandoned or ruined structures. We could see this tower piercing through the denuded trees not too far off to the right of the trail as we started. I’m not sure what it is, so if anyone has an idea, let me know. We would have investigated on the way back – there was a drive off the trail – but we were really bushed.
I don’t know what this rock wall was originally. A foundation? A pen? A border demarcation? Can’t tell you. Cool, though, isn’t it?
We were able to check out two of the abandoned bridges. These were built around 1840, using blue-stone granite. This part of the line was eventually abandoned along with the bridges because in following the river, the rails had to take too sharp a curve for the speed of the trains. Disaster prevailed. To get to this bridge, we walked along where the old rail bed was, between high walls of rock that had been blasted and dug out in the early/mid-1800s. At the bridge, the tunnel of rock opened into a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. There was still some color in the trees, so I could just imagine how gorgeous the vista would have been even a week earlier.
In this shot, you can see the handsome Yang sitting near the edge-I made sure his insurance was paid up before the hike. Click on the picture and look below him to the right to see the river. Above that, note the rest of the mountains to get an idea of how high up we are. To the left, you can see the path that came out of the rail bed we walked up between walls of rock.
This picture can give you an even better idea of how high up the bridge is. It’s taken on the same side of the bridge as the shot of Yang above, but from the other end of the bridge. Click on the picture and notice the tiny patches of blue at the bottom, on the river bank. Those tiny things are two people! Pretty far down, huh? The acoustics are darned good, though. We could hear those two girls laughing and joking as if they were right there on the bridge with us.
Here’s a shot of the other abandoned bridge, also on the same line. Though I didn’t get a picture of the surrounding hills, the view of them from here was also impressive, even with fall’s glory of color having passed. This trail is certainly worth a return trip at almost any time of year-well, maybe not through winter snows!
Click here for more information on the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail.