First Female Redshirt to Die on ‘Star Trek’ Remembers Her Crushing Death

Julie Cobb and William Shatner

Paramount Julie Cobb and William Shatner in a scene from 'By Any Other Name.'

The answer is Yeoman Leslie Thompson. The question is, Who was the very first female redshirt to die in an episode of “Star Trek: The Original Series?” Julie Cobb, the actress who played the doomed yeoman in “By Any Other Name,” sounds pleased upon hearing that bit of trivia.

“It’s meaningful,” she says in an interview with Heavy on Star Trek, “to be the first female anything!”

Cobb – whose other credits, according to the Internet Movie Database, include episodes of “The Brady Bunch,” “Fantasy Island,” “Charles in Charge,” “Salem’s Lot,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Whatta Lark,” and “Teenage Bounty Hunters” — kicked off her acting career with “Star Trek: The Original Series.” So, it marked a personal first as well.


The Yeoman’s Crushing Death


“I was nervous at the audition,” she says. “Nervous in the makeup trailer. Nervous on set. My first job! I was terribly nervous. In those days, pre-hi-def, the pancake makeup was almost orange and it was applied generously. My hair was teased up and rounded into a sort of dome on my head. I loathed the way I looked in the mirror. Seeing myself on TV was far easier. And you couldn’t see my knees shaking.”

Fortunately, she says, the men in her immediate orbit on the “Star Trek” set eased her fears. They included the director, Marc Daniels, as well as series leads William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Shatner co-starred with Cobb’s father, the actor Lee J. Cobb in the 1957 film, “The Brothers Karamazov,” with Shatner cast as Cobb’s son. Years later, in 1975, Daniels directed Julie Cobb and her mother, Helen Beverley, in an episode of “Marcus Welby, MD.” And Cobb knew Nimoy, too. At 16, she says, she took an acting class in Los Angeles, with Nimoy as her first teacher. “Marc was terribly sweet,” Cobb says. “Leonard was kind. Bill was especially good to me. It was a blast. Bill and I were aware of the connection with my dad, but I don’t remember how much we discussed it.”

Cobb recounts that for her big death scene, Thompson had been reduced into a porous cube by Hanar (Stewart Moss) at the orders of Rojan (Warren Stevens), leader of an expedition from the Kelvan Empire, who assumed human form and conspired to lure Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise to their modest, Earth-like planet. They planned to hijack the ship and use it to return to their home in the Andromeda Galaxy or head to Earth, kill its inhabitants, and colonize the planet. Rojan, as Kirk and Spock look on feebly, crushes the Thompson cube with his bare hand, and declares, “This person is dead.” Kirk – crushed in a different way — falls to his knees, devastated to have lost a member of his crew.

“Shatner’s reaction was the only thing I remember!” Cobb says. “When my daughter, Rosemary, saw his despair, she quipped, ‘Well, clearly there was a backstory here.’”

Cobb’s mention of her daughter sparks something resembling a “Star Trek” version of the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Cobb appearing on “Star Trek: The Original Series,” Shatner working with Cobb’s father, and Daniels directing Cobb and her mother on “Marcus Welby, MD” are just the tip of the iceberg. Cobb’s daughter, Rosemary Morgan, launched her own acting career playing a character named Piri in the “Star Trek: Voyager” episode, “The Chute,” which aired in 1996. Julie Cobb recalls accompanying Rosemary, who was a minor at the time, to the set. Cobb and Morgan, so far the only mother-daughter actor tandem in “Star Trek” history, made their first joint convention appearance at an official event, called Star Trek Las Vegas, in 2015. There, they met fans, signed autographs, and posed for photographs.

But the “Star Trek” connections continue. Cobb’s former husband and Rosemary’s former stepfather, with whom they’re still close, according to Julie Cobb, is James Cromwell. The Academy Award-nominated actor guest-starred on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Star Trek: Enterprise,” and he co-starred as Zefram Cochrane in the second “Next Generation” feature film, “Star Trek: First Contact.” And, finally, Cobb’s former stepson, Jeremy Morgan, worked as a driver during seasons one and two of “Star Trek: Picard.”

Cobb Was Married to Fellow ‘Trek’ Guest, James Cromwell


Julie Cobb and James Cromwell

GettyJulie Cobb and James Cromwell attend an event together.

“It really does look and feel like a family franchise,” Cobb says. “When I got my first TV job on the first season of ‘Star Trek,’ I could never have imagined that my family would be involved with the franchise for decades. It’s amazing, and I’m very grateful for the surprises life supplies us with.”

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