After Jeffrey Hunter‘s portrayal of Christopher Pike but before Bruce Greenwood appeared in Star Trek XI as the predecessor to Captain James T. Kirk, Sean Kenney appeared as a disfigured Captain Pike in the two-part Menagerie original series episode.
Kenney appeared in two other Star Trek episodes, Arena and A Taste of Armageddon, but he is best-known to fans of the original series at the captain who was injured in an accident and who could only communicate through a flashing light on his special wheelchair controlled by brain waves.
The Menagerie was a story ahead of it’s time, according to Kenney. “I’m proud of it because the story said so much and it was taken so – how shall I say – emotionally by so many people,” he said. “Here was a guy, Captain Pike, who was almost the first physically challenged person anyone saw on TV, in a major part. He was in a wheelchair, couldn’t talk. I meet people now (in wheelchairs) who roll up to me and say, ‘When I saw that show I thought, ‘What if I lost my voice?’ I’ve only lost my legs.’ It was a really profound episode and touched on so many things.”
Kenney has seen the newest Star Trek movie and gave his opinion about Bruce Greenwood’s performance. “I liked it,” he said of the movie. “I thought Bruce Greenwood did a great job. Now, I think Bruce was inspired by Jeffrey Hunter’s work because, obviously, I played the crippled Pike. Bruce did a great job because he had (a similar) temperament to Hunter. I would’ve loved to have read for the part, but I don’t think they’d seen me on film in many years and probably didn’t know what I look like now. I was only twenty-five at the time I played Pike. I think that Bruce was a good choice. Now, if J.J. Abrams ever goes into looking for the crippled Pike, I’d love to do it again.”
These days, Kenney is a professional photographer. Trek fans can see him at various conventions; he attends several a year.