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SYFY WIRE Star Trek: The Original Series

Robert Walker Jr., one of Star Trek's most memorable guest stars, dies at 79

By Matthew Jackson
Robert Walker Jr. Star Trek Charlie X

Robert Walker Jr., best known for his memorable guest performance in an early episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, died Thursday in Malibu, California. He was 79. 

Walker's wife Dawn announced the actor's death in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter

"Bob always beat to his own drum and stayed true to himself in all of his endeavors," Dawn Walker said. "Although an accomplished actor, his true art was living fully. He was a photographer, drummer, raconteur and gallery owner. His love of the ocean kept him in Malibu, and he had great tales of his adventures paddling to Catalina from there. Bob [also] had a constant interest in developing his internal martial arts practice."

Born in Queens, New York on Apr. 15, 1940, Walker was the son of Hollywood royalty — his father was actor Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train) and his mother was actress Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette). After his parents divorced in 1945, Jones went on to marry legendary studio mogul David O. Selznick, who became Walker Jr.'s stepfather and further cemented his familial connection to Hollywood. 

Walker's acting career began with training at the legendary Actors Studio, and by the early 1960s he was making television appearances on shows like Naked City and Route 66. In 1966, he played the title character in "Charlie X," the second episode of Star Trek to air on NBC. Though he was 26 at the time, Walker was immediately believable as an angst-ridden 17-year-old with strange powers and no way to control them. The episode remains one of the most memorable in Trek history, and in 2016 SYFY WIRE ranked Walker the 6th best Original Series guest star of all time.

Walker continued to make frequent appearances in film and television throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, and his other memorable credits include films like Easy Rider and Killers Three, and TV guest spots on shows ranging from Columbo to The Six Million Dollar Man to Dallas. By the early 1990s his screen acting career had slowed, but he did recently re-emerge for a small role in the 2018 fantasy film Beyond The Darkness

Walker is survived by his wife Dawn, his seven children — Michelle, David, Charlie, Jordan, Colette, Henry and Emily — and five grandchildren.