He appeared just twice in Deep Space Nine, and you may have heard his voice on the video game Star Trek: Klingon Academy. His name was Ron Taylor, and while his time with the franchise was brief, he certainly left his mark.
According to the New York Times, Taylor was from Galveston, Texas, and lost interest in football when he was introduced to the theater. He was known as a “barrel-chested bass-baritone,” and he moved to New York to study drama. He performed as the Cowardly Lion in a touring version of “The Wiz.” Taylor hit his stride in 1982 as the voice of the monstrous plant, Audrey II, in the hit musical “Little Shop of Horrors.”
After Little Shop, Taylor started to think about a show which would honor African American blues musicians. That idea eventually became “It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues,” which, according to its playbill, traced “the sounds and the stories of the blues, from African chants and spirituals,” including the Delta and Chicago blues.
Taylor was quoted by the Times as saying, “no matter where you’re from, no matter your culture, you can get the blues.”
For that role, in 1999 he was nominated for a Tony Award.
Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles, where he started getting parts on multiple television shows, including The Simpsons (as Bleeding Gums Murphy), Quantum Leap (with fellow Trek alum Scott Bakula), Matlock, and Family Matters.
It was in his role as the singing Klingon chef that Trek fans remember him as. In Season 2, Episode 6 of Deep Space Nine, Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) meets a Starfleet officer from a low gravity world named Melora Pazlar (Daphne Ashbrook).
During their time together, Bashir took Melora to dinner at the Klingon restaurant on the station. She argued with the chef over the condition of her “racht.” The chef, played by Taylor, pushed back but eventually laughed and told her:
“I like a customer who knows what she wants!”
In the Season 3 episode, “Playing God,” Jadzia (Terry Farrell) stood and sang with the Klingon chef, who played the accordion. In this episode, Taylor was able to act and show off his unique singing ability as well.
Taylor made an impression, which caused some wonder if the actor who brought the Klingon chef to life was an actual opera singer. He was not, but he did sing with and for many stars, including Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Sheila E., and Etta James. Two of those albums he sang on, Joel’s “Innocent Man” and Jackson’s “Invincible,” sold over one million copies. That means they were “platinum” records.
In a few years, Taylor returned to Star Trek, this time lending his voice to the video game Klingon Academy, which was available for Microsoft Windows. It also featured David Warner as Gorkon and the late Christopher Plummer as General Chang. The events of the game took place just before those of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Unfortunately, Taylor died in 2002 of heart failure. Because of his comedic and memorable presence, many felt like he appeared in more episodes of DS9 than he did, while some wished that he should have.