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James Doohan

James Doohan, 1997
Born James Montgomery Doohan
March 3, 1920(1920-03-03)
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Died July 20, 2005 (aged 85)
Redmond, Washington, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952—2005
Spouse(s) Janet Young (1949—1964)
Anita Yagel (1967—1972)
Wende Braunberger (1974—2005)

James Montgomery "Jimmy" Doohan (March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005) was a Canadian character and voice actor best known for his role as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the television and film series Star Trek. Doohan's characterization of the Scottish Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise was one of the most recognizable elements in the Star Trek franchise, for which he also made several contributions behind the scenes. Many of the characterizations, mannerisms, and expressions that he established for Scotty and other Star Trek characters have become entrenched in popular culture.

Following his success with Star Trek, he supplemented his income and showed continued support for his fans by making numerous public appearances. Doohan often went to great lengths to buoy the large number of fans who have been inspired to make their own accomplishments in engineering and other fields, as a result of Doohan's work and his encouragement. Doohan was considered by some to be one of the most giving and affable stars of the Star Trek franchise.[1]


Early life

Doohan, pronounced /ˈduːən/ (DOO-ən), was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, the youngest of four children of William and Sarah Doohan, who emigrated from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His father was a pharmacist, veterinarian, and dentist; his mother was a homemaker.[2] Doohan's father reportedly invented an early form of high-octane gasoline in 1923. In Doohan's 1996 autobiography, he tells of his father's alcoholism and how he tormented his family. The family moved to Sarnia, Ontario, and Doohan attended high school at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School (SCITS), where he excelled in mathematics and science. Doohan also enrolled in the 102 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

Military service

At the beginning of the Second World War, Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Doohan went to the United Kingdom in 1940 for training. His first combat was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers, Doohan led his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines, where they took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan was hit by six rounds fired from a Bren gun by a nervous Canadian sentry:[3] four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case. His right middle finger had to be amputated, something he would conceal during his career as an actor. Despite his efforts, the injured hand can be seen in the Star Trek episodes "Trouble with Tribbles", "Tomorrow is Yesterday", "The Ultimate Computer" and "Catspaw", as well as in The Search for Spock when giving parts from the USS Excelsior to Doctor McCoy, and in The Final Frontier when Nyota Uhura brings him dinner on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-A.

Doohan trained as a pilot and flew Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF, as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in in support of #1 Canadian AGRA (Army Groups Royal Artillery). All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer-pilots and accompanied by enlisted RCA and RCAF personnel serving as observers.[4][5]

Though he was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces." A story from his flying years tells of Doohan slaloming a plane — variously cited as a Hurricane or a jet trainer — between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done, which earned him a serious reprimand. (The actual feat was performed in a Mark IV Auster on the Salisbury Plain north of RAF Andover, in the late spring of 1945).[6]

Early acting career

After the war, Doohan started his acting career. Disheartened by the quality of a radio drama, he privately studied Shakespeare. His work began with a CBC radio show appearance on January 12, 1946. He took a drama class in Toronto, and later won a two-year scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where his classmates included Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone. For several years Doohan would shuttle between Toronto and New York as work demanded. During this period he appeared on some 4,000 radio programs and 400 television programs, and earned a reputation for his versatility. In the mid-1950s he appeared as forest ranger Timber Tom (the northern counterpart of Buffalo Bob) in the Canadian version of Howdy Doody. Coincidentally, fellow Star Trek cast member William Shatner appeared simultaneously as Ranger Bill in the American version. Doohan and Shatner also appeared on the 1950s Canadian science fiction series Space Command.

Doohan played the lead role in the CBC TV drama production "Flight into Danger", based on Arthur Hailey's novel Runway Zero-Eight, later adapted as Terror in the Sky. His credits also included The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964) and Bonanza. In the Bonanza episode, "Gift of Water" (1962), he co-starred with actress Majel Barrett who would later be cast in the role of Star Trek's Nurse Chapel. He appeared as an assistant to the United States president in two episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Star Trek

The handprints of James Doohan in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Doohan always had a gift for using foreign accents. Auditioning for the role of Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, before Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), Doohan did several different accents. Roddenberry asked which he preferred, and Doohan replied "Well, if you want an engineer, he better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world's best engineers have been Scottish".[7]

In later years Doohan would revisit this casting process at Star Trek conventions, demonstrating a variety of possible voices and characters. When Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Animated Series in the early 1970s, Doohan's ability to perform different voices was used by having him perform most "guest star" male roles in the series, including Robert April, conjectured first captain of the Enterprise. Doohan also performed the three-armed, three-legged navigator Arex and often performed up to four different and distinctive voices in each episode.

The Scott character, as conceived, would have been a semi-regular, but with fellow cast members Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), was elevated in importance to leads alongside William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk. It was made clear that, owing to his high technological orientation, Lt. Cmdr. Scott was the third-in-command of the Enterprise, and at times the ship was left in his care. Scott was frequently used in subplots regarding disabled ship components (such as the dilithium crystals which regulated the warp drive, the transporter teleportation device, or just fiddling in the Jefferies tubes) and as a foil for Kirk's ambitious tactical approaches, which were said to strain the propulsion and defenses of the starship. In this capacity, Scott proved to be as much of a tinkerer, or improvisational engineer, as a high-tech specialist, often apparently holding the Enterprise together with little more than baling wire and his own spittle. In the end, many fans saw the Enterprise itself as the show's star, leaving Scott in an enviable position as her defender. For example, in "The Trouble With Tribbles", Scott stands idly by and even keeps Chekov from starting any trouble as a Klingon insults Kirk; however, Scott is finally provoked into violence when the Klingon insults the Enterprise itself.

Doohan was often quoted as saying, "Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent."

Using his considerable vocal skills, Doohan devised the Vulcan and Klingon language dialogue heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Later, professional linguists, particularly Marc Okrand, expanded Klingon into a fully constructed language with a working grammar.

In addition to playing Scotty, he also did many guest voices on Star Trek including:

After Star Trek

Doohan (left) visiting of NASA Dryden with pilot Bruce Peterson 13 April 1967

After the series ended, Doohan found himself typecast and had a hard time getting other acting roles. After a conversation with his dentist, he realized that he would "always be Scotty," and he was able to support himself with income from personal appearances. Unlike some other members of the cast, Doohan relished meeting fans and was always ready to entertain with a story — or a song.

Otherwise, he had minor, fleeting parts, often trading on his Trek fame, such as the Captain in the short-lived Saturday morning live-action kids' show, Jason of Star Command, or a cameo in the made-for-TV movie Knight Rider 2000 as "Jimmy Doohan, the guy who played Scotty on Star Trek". He also had a role in the space comedy Homeboys in Outer Space, in which he played a character named Pippen: a pun on Scotty and basketball star Scottie Pippen. He also appeared as himself in an episode of The Ben Stiller Show.

When the Star Trek franchise was revived, Doohan reprised his role of Scotty in seven Star Trek films and made a guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, all of which left him financially comfortable. Even so, he would never return to the busy, versatile career he once had. Many of Doohan's film appearances did center on the role of Scotty, such as a cameo in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, where he plays a policeman who tells his superior officer "I am giving it all she has got, Captain!" in the same accent he used in Star Trek. However, he refused to contribute to the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" or allow his image to be used in it, and was "replaced" in the episode by the created character "Welshie" who was ultimately given the redshirt treatment.

Although he continued to work with William Shatner in the Star Trek movies, in private life Doohan didn't care for him, and was once quoted as saying "I like Captain Kirk, but I can't say that I'm very fond of Bill," declining to be interviewed by Shatner for Shatner's first Star Trek: Memories book about the show. However, Doohan consented to be interviewed for William Shatner's second book, Star Trek: Movie Memories,[8] and an Associated Press article published at the time of Doohan's final convention appearance in late August 2004 stated that Doohan had forgiven Shatner and they had mended their relationship.

Later life and death

Many fans told Doohan over the years that it was he who inspired them to choose engineering as a profession. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, an engineer before he participated in the NASA's Apollo Project, personally told Doohan on stage at Doohan's last public appearance, "From one old engineer to another, thanks, mate."[9]

In the 1997 documentary Trekkies, Doohan relates an emotional, uplifting story. A female fan had sent him a suicide note. Doohan immediately contacted the fan and arranged to speak with her at his next convention appearance. Doohan continued to see her at several other conventions, but ultimately didn't hear from her for several years. Doohan, visibly moved by relating this tale, then reveals the reason for the eight-year-long silence: He received one final letter from the previously distraught fan, thanking Doohan for his kindness and comforting words, and informing him that because of his encouragement, she had successfully gone back to school and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Doohan suffered from Parkinson's disease, diabetes mellitus, and pulmonary fibrosis in later life. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.[10]

On July 20, 2005, at 5:30 in the morning, Doohan died at his home in Redmond, Washington with his wife Wende and long-time friend and agent, Steve Stevens, at his side. His agent identified the cause as pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease. In what may be regarded as an ironic coincidence, Doohan died on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, arguably the greatest engineering achievement in human history. [11]

Almost two years after his death, approximately one-quarter ounce (7 grams) of Doohan's ashes were sent into space, [12] as he had requested in his will. The ashes, along with those of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper as well as almost two hundred others, were launched on the SpaceLoft XL rocket, on April 28, 2007, when the rocket briefly entered outer space in a four-minute suborbital flight before parachuting to earth, as planned, with the ashes still inside. [13] The ashes were subsequently launched on a Falcon 1 rocket, on August 3, 2008, into what was intended to be a low Earth orbit, however the rocket failed two minutes after launch. [14] The rest of his ashes were scattered over Puget Sound in Washington. [15][16]

On July 31, 2005, the Skip Barber Racing School paid tribute to Doohan by dedicating the traditional race weekend's "Memorial" race as the "Beam Me Up, Scottie! Memorial" during the series' visit to Circuit Mont-Tremblant. [17]


Doohan's star on Hollywood Blvd after his death.

Scotty's exploits as the redoubtable Chief Engineer aboard the Enterprise inspired many students to pursue a career in engineering. Because of this, the Milwaukee School of Engineering granted Doohan an honorary degree in engineering. He was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 31, 2004. Despite his ill health, he was present at the ceremony, which proved to be his final public appearance.

Since in Star Trek lore Scotty was born in the town of Linlithgow, Scotland, the West Lothian Council plans to place a commemorative plaque in the town in memory of Doohan. Other towns having groups claiming to be Scotty's birthplace and wishing memorials are Aberdeen, Elgin, and Edinburgh.

Personal life

Doohan was married three times. He had four children — Larkin, Deirdre, and twins Christopher and Montgomery — with first wife Janet Young before a 1964 divorce. His marriage to Anita Yagel from 1967 to 1972 produced no children. In early 1974, he was introduced to 17-year-old fan Wende Braunberger at a theatre performance, later marrying that same year on October 12, 1974, with Star Trek actor William Campbell serving as best man.[18] Doohan and Braunberger had three children: Eric, Thomas, and Sarah. Sarah was born in 2000, when Doohan was 80 years old.

His son Christopher appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and in the J. J. Abrams "reboot", Star Trek, which premiered on May 7, 2009.[19]



  • Doohan, James; David, Peter (1996). Beam Me Up, Scotty: Star Trek's "Scotty" in his own words. ISBN 0-671-52056-3.  

Science fiction novels (The Flight Engineer series):


  1. ^ "Obituary: James Doohan". BBC News. 2005-07-20. Retrieved 2007-04-29.  
  2. ^ James Doohan Biography (1920-)
  3. ^ Graves, Donald E. (2005). Century of Service. New York: Midpoint Trade Books Inc.. pp. 244. ISBN 1896941435.  
  4. ^ Battle History 666. Calgary: Abel Book Company. 2006.  
  5. ^ Fromow, D.L. (2002). Canada's Flying Gunners: A History of the Air Observation Post of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. Air O.P. Pilot's Association. ISBN 0973005505.  
  6. ^ The Making of Star Trek. New York: Ballantine Books. 1968.  
  7. ^ Hayward, Anthony (2005-07-22). "Obituary: James Doohan". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  8. ^ Shatner, William, Star Trek: Movie Memories. Harper Collins: New York, 1994.
  9. ^ Soul of Star Trek
  10. ^ "Star Trek Scotty has Alzheimer's". BBC News. 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2007-02-06.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ Space Flights, Inc., Celestis Memorial Spaceflights. "We offer the launch of a symbolic portion of the cremated remains as a memorial service, not final disposition of all the remains, because although dramatic progress is being made by entrepreneurs in reducing launch costs, spaceflight is still quite expensive." The ampules carrying each person's remains.
  13. ^ CNN, 'Scotty's' 'beamed up' ashes fall in New Mexico, May 19, 2007.
  14. ^ - SpaceX Falcon I FAILS during first stage flight
  15. ^ Lane, Frederick (2007-04-03). "Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Headed to Space". Sci-Tech Today. Retrieved 2007-04-03.  
  16. ^ CNN News: 'Star Trek' actor's ashes heading to space this month
  17. ^ Skip Barber Racing School, Another Giant Race Weekend, Aug 04, 2005. Scroll down page for "Beam Me Up, Scotty!" Memorial, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
  18. ^ "Wende Braunberger Doohan". IMDb. Retrieved 2007-02-06.  
  19. ^ "Christopher Doohan". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-12-03.  

External links

Simple English

James Doohan
Born James Montgomery Doohan
March 3, 1920
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died July 20, 2005 (aged 85)
Redmond, Washington, United States
Height 180 cm (71 in)
Spouse Wende Doohan (1974-2005)
Anita Yagel (1967-1972)
Janet Young (1949-1964)

James Montgomery Doohan (March 3, 1920July 20, 2005) was a Canadian actor famous for his role as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the television and movie series Star Trek. Doohan's character was one of the most typical elements in the Star Trek franchise.

Doohan was also a veteran of World War II. Following his success with Star Trek, he showed a lot of support through the years for his fans by making many public appearances. Doohan is considered by some to be one of the most friendly stars of the Star Trek franchise.

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