It’s a sad day indeed for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans, with the news that René Auberjonois, who portrayed Odo the shapeshifter on the show, is dead at the age of seventy-nine.
Auberjonois died at his Los Angeles home of metastatic lung cancer, according to his son Rèmy-Luc.
Born in New York in 1940 of a Swiss-born foreign correspondent for U.S. newspapers, and his wife Princess Laure Louise Napoléone Eugénie Caroline Murat (a great-great granddaughter of Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon’s marshals); Auberjonois was raised in New York, Paris, and London.
Auberjonois studied theater in London, and he also attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now named Carnegie Mellon University) where he graduated in 1962.
Initially working on Broadway, where he earned a Tony Award for his work in Coco as Sebastian Baye, Auberjonois made the transition to television and film. He was the original Father John Mulcahy in 1970’s M*A*S*H* and appeared in other movies such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Hindenburg, King Kong, The Feud, Inspector Gadget, Batman Forever, Brewster McCloud, and more. Trek fans remember his turn as Colonel West in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Auberjonois was often seen on television, and is best known for his work on Benson, Boston Legal, and of course, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Some of his other television appearances included: Mod Squad, McMillan and Wife, Night Gallery, NET Playhouse‘s 1972 Portrait of the Hero as a Young Man (where he played George Washington and where your writer saw him for the first time at the age of fourteen and became a fan), The Jeffersons, Saturday Night Live, Black sheep Squadron, Starsky and Hutch, Family, Hart to Hart, Mrs. Columbo, Matlock, Warehouse 13, Archer, Criminal Minds and more.
Auberjonois did quite a bit of voice work, and who can forget him as the French Chef Louis singing Les Poissons in 1989’s The Little Mermaid film.
Some of his Star Trek family spoke of him today via their Twitter accounts. “It is with great heartache and loss; I share with you the passing of dear, dear Rene Auberjonois,” said Armin Shimerman. “His last message to me was entitled “Don’t forget…” I know that I, Kitty, and all that knew him will never forget. The world seems noticeably emptier now. I loved him.”
“I love and respect Rene more than I can say now,” said Nana Visitor. “This beautiful soul. My heart. Oh…”
“I cannot express how much you meant to me,” said Terry Farrell. “I will truly miss you my dear colleague, mentor, father figure, friend.”
“Heartbroken,” said Jeffrey Combs. “I lost a cherished friend today and the world lost a great artist. Peace, René.”
Auberjonois is survived by his wife Judith, two children and three grandchildren.