I was going to write about something different, but I saw the news late last night that Michael Ansara died at the age of 91. Of course, as a long-time Star Trek fan, I first saw him as Kang in the third season episode Day of the Dove. He brought a wonderful quality to the role, something that made him stand out to me in a way that didn’t happen with other actors. So every time he was on another show, I checked it out. Because of his skin color, he was often called on to play ethnic roles like Native Americans and Hispanics.
When he turned up on Buck Rogers in a semi-regular role as Killer Kane, I was delighted. It looked like a fun role for him, and I was disappointed when they dropped the Princess Ardala storyline to make the series more Star Trek. I think one of his last roles was on Deep Space Nine, where returned as Kang. Though, I’ll admit, I didn’t like the direction that took the character. Better was the book Pawns and Symbols, even if it had a wasted subplot about light in it, because that looked inside the Klingon Empire and Kang’s role in it.
But I got a chance to see Michael Ansara in person in 1997. He was making his first convention appearance at Farpoint, a con in Maryland. Right before the con, James Doohan had made the newspapers for complaining about William Shatner.
Then I went to this con and attended a workshop with Mark Goddard from Lost in Space. It’s tough for actor in a TV series because he becomes too recognizable, and depending on the popularity of the show, it may never be easy to find work. After Lost in Space, Mark Goddard couldn’t find work and ended up at what was regarded as the low end of TV work — a soap opera. He came to the con and blasted producer Irwin Allen in a nasty diatribe. It was Allen’s fault that Goddard couldn’t get any work.
Then I went to Michael Ansara’s appearance. He was quite amazed at the number of people that had come to see him. Of course, a fan asked him about William Shatner, hoping for more dirt. Ansara might have made the news by bringing up past history with Shatner and gotten a little publicity for himself. Instead all he said was that William Shatner had been very professional to work with.
We’ve had a lot of celebrities — and writers for that matter — who have made the news because of misbehaving in public. It was very refreshing to see a celebrity who valued staying professional.
Rest in Peace, Michael Ansara.