After suffering the loss of Leonard Nimoy recently, we’ve now lost another member of the extended Star Trek family.
According to Deadline, producer Harve Bennett has passed away at the age of 84. Bennett, who is credited with saving the Star Trek film franchise after the lackluster reception to 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was hired by Paramount Pictures to develop the franchise into an ongoing film series. By using many of the expensive sets built for the first film as a cost-cutting measure, and by getting the idea to reunite the crew of the Enterprise with villain Khan Noonien Singh from the original series, Bennett was instrumental in the creation of what would become Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — the film largely considered to be the best example of the entire film series.
Before his tenure with Star Trek, Bennett was a prolific television producer on shows like “The Mod Squad,” “The Bionic Woman,” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” When first approached with the idea of kickstarting Star Trek as a viable film series, Bennett ran all 79 original series episodes on film, completely absorbing the series before deciding on an appropriate direction for the characters as they were established on television. He said that he quickly realized that at the center of every episode was the triumvirate of Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy, and that the films he made with the series wanted to exemplify that.
Bennett’s involvement with Star Trek came to an end after the release of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 1989, when a conflict arose between he, the studio, and some of the cast about which direction a sixth film should go for the franchise’s 25th anniversary. After Star Trek, Bennett returned to television, where he wrote a TV movie and produced two other television series, one of which was animated and featured Leonard Nimoy as a voice actor.
Director Nicholas Meyer, who helmed Star Trek II and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, had this to say in regards to Bennett:
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.
Bennett’s contribution and reinvention of a franchise beloved worldwide by millions of fans will leave him a lasting legacy for generations to come, and GeekNation wishes to extend our warmest sympathies to his friends and family during this difficult time.
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