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Walter Koenig

Koenig at ComicCon in Dallas, Texas, 2007
Born Walter Marvin Koenig
September 14, 1936 (1936-09-14) (age 73)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Years active 1962-present
Spouse(s) Anjanette Comer (div.)
Judy Levitt (1965-present)
Official website

Walter Marvin Koenig (pronounced /ˈkeɪnɪɡ/; born September 14, 1936) is an American actor, writer, teacher and director, known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in Star Trek and Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. Most recently, he wrote the script for the 2008 sci-fi thriller / legal drama InAlienable.

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Early life

Koenig was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Sarah (née Strauss) and Isadore Koenig, who was a businessman.[1][2] Koenig's parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia; his family lived in Lithuania when they emigrated and shortened their surname from "Königsberg" to "Koenig".[3] Koenig's father was a communist who was investigated by the FBI during the McCarthyite era.[4] Koenig attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa with a pre-med major. He transferred to UCLA and received a BA in psychology.

Career

Star Trek

Koenig played the navigator Pavel Chekov on the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek (TOS) television series and in several movies featuring the original cast. He was cast as Chekov because of his resemblance to British actor/musician Davy Jones of the Monkees, in a bid to attract a younger audience, especially girls. (The studio's publicity department, however, ascribed the inclusion of Chekov to an article in Pravda complaining about the lack of Russians in Star Trek.) Koenig wore a hair piece while playing the character of Chekov in his first few episodes of the original Star Trek series until his own hair grew out to a suitable length. Gene Roddenberry asked him to "ham up" his Russian accent to add a note of comedy relief to the series. He is also credited for writing the Star Trek: The Animated Series installment "The Infinite Vulcan," making him the first "original cast" member to write a Star Trek story for television. Interestingly, the character of Pavel Andreievich Chekov never appeared in the animated version of Star Trek, where Koenig never got to reprise his character on the animated series as the rest of his fellow Star Trek castmates did. Though Chekov's accent has been criticized as inauthentic, in particular his substitution of the 'v' sound with a 'w' sound, Koenig has said the accent was inspired by his father who had the same difficulty with the 'v' sound.[4]

He received Saturn Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Film for both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Koenig reprised his role of Pavel Chekov for the fan webseries Star Trek: New Voyages, To Serve All My Days and the independent Sky Conway/Tim Russ film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, both in 2006. He and Majel Barrett are the only regular Star Trek cast members without stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Other work

After Chekov, Koenig had a starring role in a Sci-Fi thriller Moontrap opposite Bruce Campbell and another as Psi Cop Alfred Bester on the television series Babylon 5. Koenig was the "Special Guest Star" in twelve episodes and, at the end of the third season, the production company applied for an Emmy nomination on his behalf. He was slated to play Bester on the spin-off series Crusade, but the series was cancelled before his episode was filmed. He also played "Oro" in two episodes of the Canadian science fiction television series The Starlost, which aired in 1973 on Canada's CTV television network. He also filmed a few FMV sequences for a re-released copy of the game "Star Trek Starfleet Academy" for PC's & "Game Over, Control Alt Death" for the Sega CD video game system.

Koenig's film, stage and TV roles span fifty years. He has played everything from a teenage gang leader (Alfred Hitchcock Presents) to Scandinavian fiance Gunnar (Gidget) to a Las Vegas entertainer (I Spy). He returned to space with a starring role in Moontrap and played a computer hard drive in Maximum Surge. In addition to acting, he has written several films (Actor, I Wish I May, You're Never Alone When You're a Schizophrenic), one-act plays, and a handful of episodes for TV shows: Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Family and The Powers of Matthew Star. He has also written several books, including Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe (autobiography), Chekov's Enterprise (a journal kept during the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture) and Buck Alice and the Actor-Robot (a science fiction novel), which was rereleased in 2006 and also created his own comic book series called Raver, which was published by Malibu Comics in the early 1990s.

Koenig has taught classes in acting and directing at UCLA, the Sherwood Oaks Experiment Film College, the Actor's Alley Repertory Company in Los Angeles, and the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. In 2002, Koenig directed stage versions of two of the original Twilight Zone episodes for Letter Entertainment.[5]

In 2004, Koenig co-starred in Mad Cowgirl, an independent movie about a meat-packing health inspector dying from a brain disorder in which he played televangelist 'Pastor Dylan': a character described as "a sleazy, slimy, sex-addict." The movie played the SF Indiefest and the Silverlake Film Festival, followed by a limited release in major cities such as New York and Seattle. Mad Cowgirl was released on DVD on December 5, 2006.

Humanitarian work

In 2007, Koenig was asked by the human rights group U.S. Campaign for Burma to help in their grassroots campaign to get the message out about the humanitarian crisis in Burma. As detailed on his official website, he visited refugee camps along the Burma-Thailand border from July 16 to July 25, 2007.

Personal life

Koenig's first marriage was to actress Anjanette Comer; they divorced.[6] He married Judy Levitt in 1965; they are still together. They had a son, actor Andrew Koenig (1968–2010), and a daughter, Danielle Koenig, who is married to comedian Jimmy Pardo, with whom she has one child. Koenig had a heart bypass surgery in 1993. His role in Babylon 5 came out of that incident since his hospitalization forced him to bow out of a guest spot. The series producer promised to make it up to him for the lost opportunity, and he got the role later on.

In September 2008, Koenig served as best man at the wedding of his Star Trek co-star, George Takei.[7]

In February 2010, Koenig's son, Joshua Andrew Koenig, was reported missing. He was last seen in Vancouver, British Columbia on February 14, and missed a scheduled flight back to the U.S. on February 16. According to his parents, he left evidence that he was depressed prior to his disappearance.[8] On February 25, 2010, his body was discovered by his friends in Stanley Park. Koenig told reporters at an evening press conference that his son committed suicide.[9][10]

References

External links








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