By the time “Star Trek: The Original Series” was wrapping up its first season in 1967, Joan Collins was an international superstar. Collins had been a movie star in Britain for more than a decade. In the States, she’d appeared in films with big names like Bette Davis, Richard Burton, and Gregory Peck.
For a wildly successful star of the big and small screen, doing a science-fiction show like “Star Trek” was an interesting career choice. So, why did Collins take the role?
A Family Matter
In an interview with StarTrek.com in 2019, Collins talked about her experiences in the Trekverse, including why she took the role in the first place.
“When I was asked to do Star Trek, I remember saying to my agent, ‘Well, what is ‘Star Trek’?’ I’d never heard of it. When I told my children — who were then about two and four — that I’d been asked to do Star Trek, my daughter jumped up and down and said, ‘Oh, mum, you must do it. It’s a great show.’ So that’s why I did it.”
Collins was referring to her eldest daughter, Tara Newley, whom she had with actor Anthony Newley.
In a 2016 interview about her experiences on “Star Trek,” Collins revealed that she wasn’t taking many acting jobs at the time because she was a young mother with two young children. However, her daughter’s reaction to the news that she’d been asked to do an episode of Trek convinced her to take a quick break from motherhood to take on the role.
Trekkers Still Love Her
Collins went on to say that even decades after “The Original Series” was canceled, “Star Trek” fans continued to shower her with love. She revealed that she still gets “loads of letters” from Trekkers.
Collins then recounted how she got to experience the love of the Trek fandom firsthand at a “Star Trek” convention in 2015. She and William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, did a Q&A panel together at the official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. Afterward, she signed “a lot of” autographs. She called the experience “quite fun.”
“It was amazing to me the amount of people that love that show. There were people there in costumes from all of the alien planets. Extraordinary! [‘Star Trek’] is really a survivor. That’s out on DVD. ‘Dynasty’s’ not out on DVD.”
Though she was only in a single episode of the show, Collins made a huge impact on the Trekverse and its fans.
Edith Keeler’s Appeal
During her appearance at Star Trek Las Vegas in 2015, Collins talked about why her Trek character, Edith Keeler, was so important to fans, especially in the late 1960s.
Collins said that Keeler’s love for peace and her belief in a peaceful future resonated with people who desperately wanted peace. The episode aired at the height of the Vietnam War, which had been raging for over a decade by then. Collins continued, saying that Keeler’s almost outlandish belief in a future where humans could explore space was a beacon of hope for those who believed scientific discovery was the path of the future.
She also said that she thought Keeler’s genuine goodness was reassuring for people watching the episode. Collins remarked that Keeler worked for the greater good and she always “saw the best in people,” a characteristic that was sorely lacking in the late 1960s. In essence, Keeler was an idealistic vision of a possible future.
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