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SYFY WIRE Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek original series guest star Morgan Woodward dead at 93

By Benjamin Bullard
Morgan Woodward via Getty Images Albert L Ortega 2019

Morgan Woodward, who appeared twice on the original Star Trek television series in separate but well-remembered guest roles, has passed away in California at the age of 93, according to the Star Trek website.

Woodward’s Feb. 22 passing closed a lengthy multi-genre career that spanned more than 400 roles, but as Woodward himself once noted, his Star Trek appearances have persisted in fans’ memories.

Woodward told in 2015 that he was happy to be best remembered for playing Dr. Simon Van Gelder in “Dagger of the Mind” and Captain Ronald Tracey in “The Omega Glory” — both roles from Star Trek: The Original Series.

“It just keeps going. So, no, it doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me, not at all. The [conventions and autograph] shows that I’ve gone to, most of the people want me to sign pictures from Star Trek. I sign pictures from Dallas and the westerns and Cool Hand Luke, too. The Man With No Eyes from Cool Hand Luke is still very, very popular, and that’s almost 50 years, too. But it’s mostly Star Trek that people want me to sign pictures of, and I get that.”

In addition to the roles in Cool Hand Luke (as Boss Godfrey) and Dallas (as Jock Ewing’s friend Punk Anderson), Woodward is familiar to X-Files fans as the older version of 1940s serial murderer Harry Cokely (the younger version, in flashbacks, was played by Emanuel Hajek).

Woodward made his first Star Trek appearance as Dr. Simon Van Gelder in the Season 1 “Dagger of the Mind” episode, stowing away aboard the Enterprise as a disturbed medical research assistant who is believed to have used a “neural neutralizer” device to take control of other people’s minds. The brainwashing turns out to be the work of Colony director Tristan Adams (played by James Gregory), who ends up becoming the victim of his own device.

His second appearance, in the Gene Roddenberry-written “The Omega Glory” episode from Season 2, placed him in the role of USS Exeter Starfleet Captain Ronald Tracey. Tracey survived an outbreak that wiped out the rest of the Exeter’s crew. But as Spock investigates, he discovers that Tracey has become deluded by visions of living forever among the primitive residents of the parallel-Earth planet of Omega IV. A standoff between Tracey and Kirk ultimately ends with Tracey in custody and Kirk admonishing the inhabitants of Omega IV to reflect on the meaning of the same founding documents (like the U.S. Constitution) that it shares with its terrestrial twin.

Woodward was born in Arlington, Texas, and enjoyed a TV and film career that spanned nearly five decades. A 2017 “Tribute to Morgan Woodward” event in his hometown celebrated his life and career, with Woodward himself participating via a live feed from his home.