James Doohan

James Doohan Headshot

Actor • Voice Actor

Birth Date: March 3, 1920

Death Date: July 20, 2005

Birth Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Known most famously for playing beloved chief engineer Montgomery Scott on the classic science fiction series, "Star Trek" (NBC, 1966-69), actor James Doohan became a pop-culture icon to generations of adoring fans. His professional acting career began with prolific work in radio and television, on series such as "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1964) and "The Virginian" (NBC, 1962-1971) prior to landing his career-making role on Gene Roddenberry's "Western set in space."

The franchise was later brought back to life, bigger than ever, with the release of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979), spawning five successful sequels, in all of which Doohan made appearances. Although he also found work outside the "Trek" universe, Doohan good-naturedly gave back to the loyal community of fans who for years flocked to see him and the other members of the Enterprise crew at various conventions, before passing away in 2005, the second lead to do so after the 1999 death of DeForest Kelley. Doohan's portrayal of the beloved and beleaguered "Scotty" granted him an enduring legacy very few actors would ever have the good fortune to attain.

Born James Montgomery Doohan on March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia to parents Sarah and William Doohan - the latter a veterinarian, pharmacist and dentist - he later relocated with his family to Sarnia, Ontario. There, Doohan enrolled at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School, where he excelled in science and mathematics. According to later accounts, his family suffered terrible abuse from his alcoholic father, leading the teenaged Doohan to enroll in the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in an effort to escape his unhappy home. With the start of World War II, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Adept and intelligent, Doohan quickly rose in rank to captain, ultimately seeing his first action on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. He was badly injured during the bloody D-Day battle, losing a finger in addition to other serious injuries sustained while leading his troops. Doohan later returned to active duty after his wounds healed, flying an artillery observation plane for the Royal Canadian Air Force, where - according to his memoir - he earned the dubious distinction of being the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces" by his fellow airmen.

Upon completing his military service, Doohan began studying acting after being dismayed by the poor quality of a radio program which he had been listening to one evening. After submitting an audition tape to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he was soon working on several CBC programs, later winning a scholarship to New York's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, where fellow students included such future stars as Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall and Richard Boone.

For the next eight years, Doohan spent time in both New York City and his native Canada, working on innumerable radio and television shows, including appearances on "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1964), "The Outer Limits" (ABC, 1963-65), "Bewitched" (ABC, 1964-1972) and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (NBC, 1964-68). It was around this time that director James Goldstone from "The Outer Limits" suggested he audition for a new science fiction series being developed by writer-producer Gene Rodenberry.

During the tryout, Doohan - a skilled linguistic mimic - offered several interpretations of the character, a chief engineer on an intergalactic ship, each time using a distinct accent. When asked by Rodenberry which one he preferred, Doohan reportedly replied that in his experience, Scotsmen always made the best engineers.

A groundbreaking series, far ahead of its time, "Star Trek" (NBC, 1966-69) chronicled the ongoing adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). As initially conceived, Doohan's character, Mr. Scott, was only intended to be a recurring figure. Before long, however, the ingenious engineer became an integral member of the cast, with the character taking on many of the actor's personal traits, such as the first name Montgomery, Doohan's actual middle name.

Although the series would last for only three seasons, Scotty's countless last-minute engine room miracles and maestro-like facility with the often twitchy transporter device ensured him an honored spot in the pantheon of beloved science fiction characters. After the series ended in 1969, Doohan, like several of his "Star Trek" co-stars, found it difficult to move beyond his role on the iconic show.

Although he continued to act in projects such as "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (NBC, 1973-74) - for which he lent his voice to dozens of characters - and a season on the live-action children's show "Jason of Star Command" (CBS, 1978-1981), it soon became apparent to Doohan that the remainder of his career would be relegated largely to personal appearances at various fan conventions.

Then, nearly a decade after its demise, the crew of the Enterprise was called on once again for the big-budget feature film adaptation "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979), due in part to the success of a space fantasy called "Star Wars" (1977). Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise, the film reunited the original cast for an all-new adventure that brought them face-to-face with a powerful alien intelligence on a collision course with Earth.

In addition to reprising his role as Scotty, Doohan was widely acknowledged as having created the basics for the Vulcan and Klingon languages used in the movie. Criticized by many for its surprisingly torpid pace and relying too much on the admittedly impressive special effects, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" nonetheless performed well enough at the box-office to warrant a sequel. Learning from their mistakes, the studio next produced a swashbuckling space adventure with "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982), in which original series villain Khan (Ricardo Montalban) pursues Kirk with an Ahab-like obsession.

For his part, Doohan managed to grab a memorably emotional moment on screen as he cradled the lifeless body of a brave young cadet near the film's explosive climax. The movie became a smash hit in theaters, paving the way for sequel after sequel in the revived franchise.

Although his screen time seemed to shrink with each consecutive installment, Doohan lent his presence to every one of them. "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984) saw the crew attempting to bring their emotionally-challenged Vulcan science officer (Leonard Nimoy) back from the great beyond. Saving the whales became the unlikely mission in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986) - a personal favorite of Doohan's, due to its lighthearted tone and the well written banter between the Enterprise crew.

For "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989) William Shatner occupied the captain's chair as well as the director's for what would be universally considered the most disappointing film of the series. Considering his well-documented dislike of Shatner, it was an irony certainly not lost on Doohan. The original crew of the Enterprise shared one last onscreen adventure in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991).

A year later, Doohan made a guest appearance in an episode of the spin-off series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994), kicking off what would be a sort of passing of the torch between characters past and present. Two years later, Doohan bid farewell to Scotty in "Star Trek: Generations" (1994) with a small role alongside Walter "Chekov" Koenig in the film's opening flashback sequence.

The mid-1990s found Doohan's career winding down, though he did enjoy recurring roles as Damon Warwick on the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ) for a period of time, and as Pippen on the ham-fisted "Trek" parody, "Home Boys in Outer Space" (UPN, 1996-97). In 1996, Doohan penned his memoirs, Beam Me Up, Scotty, the title referring to the oft-repeated command spoken by Kirk, which had long ago entered the pop-culture lexicon.

Although he continued to make appearances at various Star Trek conventions, Doohan scaled back his activities, only briefly appearing in a few low-budget efforts, such the schlocky monster movie "Bug Buster" (1998) alongside fellow star-trekker George Takei. He also appeared as an interview subject in the documentary "Trekkies" (1999), an affectionate look at the "Star Trek" phenomenon and its rabid fan base.

In the summer of 2004, Doohan visited his final Star Trek convention in Los Angeles and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before passing away due to complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease in 2005. In accordance with his wishes, Doohan's ashes were launched into space aboard a suborbital rocket in 2007.

Credits

Skinwalker: Curse of the Shaman

Actor
Judge Peterson
Movie
2005

Bug Buster

Actor
Sheriff Carlson
Movie
1999

The Duke

Actor
Clive Chives
Movie
1999

Cold Fusion: Fire From Water

Host
Show
1998

Trekkies

Self
Movie
1997

Homeboys in Outer Space

Actor
Pippen
Series
1996
25%

Storybook

Actor
Uncle Monty
Movie
1995

Star Trek: GenerationsStream

Actor
Scotty
Movie
1994
48%

River of Stone

Actor
Movie
1994

Through Dead Eyes

Actor
Barney Fredericks
Movie
1994

National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1

Actor
Scotty
Movie
1993

Amore!

Actor
Dr. Landon
Movie
1993

The Ben Stiller ShowStream

Guest Star
Series
1992
91%

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryStream

Actor
Captain Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott
Movie
1991
83%

Double Trouble

Actor
Chief O'Brien
Movie
1991

Star Trek Adventure

Actor
Scott
Movie
1991

Star Trek V: The Final FrontierStream

Actor
Captain Montgomery Scott
Movie
1989
21%

Star Trek: The Next GenerationStream

Guest Star
Capt. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
Series
1987
92%

Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStream

Actor
Captain Montgomery Scott
Movie
1986
82%

Super PasswordStream

Guest
Game Show
1984

Star Trek III: The Search for SpockStream

Actor
Commander/Captain Montgomery Scott
Movie
1984
78%

Hotel

Guest Star
Soap
1983

Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStream

Actor
Commander Montgomery Scott
Movie
1982
87%

Magnum, P.I.Stream

Guest Star
Archie MacPherson
Series
1980

Star Trek: The Motion PictureStream

Actor
Commander Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott
Movie
1979
52%

Jason of Star Command

Actor
Commander Canarvin
Show
1978

Fantasy Island

Guest Star
Series
1978

Star Trek: The Animated SeriesStream

Voice
Engineer Montogmery Scott
Series
1973

Man in the Wilderness

Actor
Benoit
Movie
1971

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Actor
Follo
Movie
1971

JerichoStream

Actor
Series
1966

Star TrekStream

Actor
Engineer Montgomery Scott
Series
1966
80%

Daniel Boone

Guest Star
Series
1964

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Stream

Guest Star
Series
1964
100%

BewitchedStream

Guest Star
Walter Brocken
Series
1964

36 Hours

Actor
Bishop
Movie
1964

The FugitiveStream

Guest Star
Doctor
Series
1963

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Police Lieut. Branch
Series
1963
92%

Gallant Men

Guest Star
Show
1962

Ben Casey

Guest Star
Dr. Watson
Series
1961

HazelStream

Guest Star
Series
1961

The Twilight ZoneStream

Actor
Father
Series
1959
92%

BonanzaStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

GunsmokeStream

Guest Star
Davit
Series
1955

The Canadian Howdy Doody Show

Actor
Timber Tom
Show
1954

Tales of TomorrowStream

Actor
Series
1951

SuspenseStream

Actor
Series
1949

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