Producer Harve Bennett has died at the age of eighty-four.
Bennett was the producer on four Star Trek films; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek VI: The Final Frontier.
Born in Chicago, Bennett began his career early, appearing on The Quiz Kids radio program in 1941. He appeared on The Quiz Kids more than two hundred times.
In his teens, Bennett wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times, and then went to college, graduating from UCLA with a degree in theater.
Bennett became a production executive at CBS in New York City, and also worked at ABC. He helped create or produce such television classics as The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Rich Man Poor Man, as well as Gemini Man, and Time Trax.
Fans will remember that Bennett was executive producer on A Woman Called Golda, which also featured Leonard Nimoy.
After Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Bennett was the one who convinced a reluctant Nimoy to return for the second Star Trek movie. “Everyone said, ‘How are you going to get Leonard to do another one?'” he said in a 2006 interview. “I had an idea. I went to see Leonard who was then in a play and we had dinner afterward, and I said to him, ‘I know you don’t want to do any more Star Trek. Leonard, do you remember Psycho? Do you remember that the biggest star in that picture was killed, to everyone’s shock, one-third of the way into the picture?’ He said yes, and I said, ‘I want to do that with Spock. I will give you the most glorious death scene ever played.’ He said that was a great idea, and he was on.”
Bennett was the one who “plucked out Khan,” said Nicholas Meyer, for the next Star Trek movie after watching the seventy-nine original series episodes. “The fact that actor Ricardo Montalban, who originated the role of Khan, was in the spotlight at the time with ABC‘s Fantasy Island also further fueled the return of the character to the Star Trek canon.
“He was a remarkable man and he was unpretentious and self-effacing. I don’t think there would be a Star Trek franchise without him. He rescued it. He’s endangered of being lost in the shuffle, but he’s the guy who figured it out.”
Photos courtesy TrekCore and StarTrek.com.