Daily serials and science fiction programs have more in common than one might think. For example, they both inspire passionate audiences as soap stars and sci-fi icons respectively enjoy tremendous popularity and most have years of continuity that must be strictly adhered to.
Which Soap Star Was It?
All of these actors are either alums of long-ago classics – like All My Children, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light – or they are currently starring in, or are alums of, one of the four remaining daytime dramas – The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless.
And all of them have appeared in either an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series or one of its many offshoots. However, only one of them has the distinction of being the actor to play the franchise’s first casualty.
But who can that actor be? Was it Marj Dusay (ex-Vanessa Hayward Cortlandt, AMC), Kathryn Hays (Kim Sullivan Hughes, ATWT), Louise Sorel (Vivian Alamain, DAYS), Michael Zaslow (ex-Roger Thorpe, GL), or Ray Wise (ex-Ian Ward, YR)?
Dusay didn’t portray the series first expendable character. But she is remembered by Star Trek devotes for her appearance in one of the most derided episodes in the entire series cannon: Spock’s Brain.
If Gem, the empath played by Hayes in the same-titled Season 3 episode, had her way, she would have been sacrificed in order to save the life of Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy. However, she was spared death.
Sorel’s appearance on Star Trek: The Original Series as the ultimately doomed android Rayna Kapec was a highlight of the much-lamented third season. However, she was hardly the first character – human or synthetic – to meet her end.
Though he did not appear in any of Star Trek’s original series’ episodes, Wise did appear in not one but two separate spinoffs. First, he played pious Liko in Star Trek: The Next Generation, whose messianic beliefs led him to nearly kill the series lead character, Jean-Luc Picard.
Later, he played Arturis AKA Species 116, a renowned linguist and cryptologist consumed with rage at his people’s annihilation and hell-bent on exacting revenge on those he deemed responsible for the genocide.
Zaslow began and ended his association with Star Trek during the filming of the show’s sixth episode The Man Trap. His character, Crewman Darnell, fell victim to a shapeshifting alien who killed by extracting salt from his victim’s body.
Though Darnell’s death has been cited as the first usage of the (eventual) popular catchphrase, “He’s dead, Jim!” the line actually spoken was the far more somber, “Dead, Jim.” Due to the episode’s exciting horror plot and strong characterizations, network executives decided to move it forward in the schedule and it eventually aired as the series’ first.
So if you guessed that the soap star in question was Michael Zaslow, then you were absolutely correct!