Star Trek fans know Bobby Clark as the Gorn who took on Captain Kirk (and lost) in the popular original series episode Arena.
Clark actually appeared more than once on Star Trek, due to his acquaintance with director Joseph Pevney. “I was in The Apple, Mirror, Mirror, The Return of the Archons and Arena,” said Clark. Arena was the first one. I got Star Trek because I’d done a lot of work on other shows with a director named Joseph Pevney. We knew each other. We got along real. He knew how I worked and so forth and so on, and I knew what he wanted and needed. When he and Gene Roddenberry talked about Arena, they of course talked about the Gorn, and Joseph knew who he wanted to play that character. When the time came, he called me in, and that was it.”
Clark was one of the natives of Gamma Trianguli VI in The Apple. “I was part of a small group on this planet,” he said. “There was a computer named Vaal, and it took care of us. It was a nice part. I didn’t have dialogue, per se. I was there and did some good stuff with Bill Shatner and the other actors there.”
In Mirror, Mirror, some of Clark’s work was edited out of the episode. “I actually had more,” he said, “but a lot of it ended up on the cutting room floor. That’s how it works sometimes. And in Mirror, Mirror, there were two Kirks, two Spocks, two Chekovs, two of everybody, and I was one of Chekov’s henchmen.”
Clark is gratified that years later, he is still recognized as the Gorn, a character that he played more than four decades ago. “It’s kind of weird, but it’s very impressive,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to me to know that after forty-four years I’m still the Gorn and that people, when they come to conventions, really like to meet me and talk to me and hear me talk to them during the Q&As or at my booth. It’s funny how that one episode changed everything. I’ve been a cowboy, really, all of my life. I’ve done westerns all of my life, mostly. I mean, I’ve done cop shows and played firefighters and all of that, but westerns were how I made my living. I did Gunsmoke for eight years. But nobody knows me as Bobby Clark, the cowboy. It’s Bobby Clark, the Gorn. And that’s fine. As Bobby Clark, the Gorn, I can tell them I’m also Bobby Clark, the cowboy.”
Clark’s Trek fame came about as a result of his convention appearances. “And the interesting thing, for me, is that for a long time people didn’t realize I was the Gorn,” he explained. “That happened because I started doing some convention appearances a number of years ago and people started to associate me with the Gorn. So, it’s great. I love the Gorn. And if, because someone talks to me or reads about me, they realize some of the other things I’ve done, even better. But it’s absolutely a neat feeling now to look back and say ‘I was the Gorn.'”