Remembering Majel Roddenberry

One of the things that struck me when seeing the trailer for J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie was that, for as much as he changed in his effort to revitalize the Trek universe, there were just enough things that he left unaltered—perhaps in an effort to tacitly state, "While this isn’t your father’s Star Trek, it still is Star Trek." Like that classic "red alert" sound. And it was also reassuring to know that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry—who passed away earlier today from complications from pneumonia at the age of 76—was once again the "voice" of Starfleet computers, reprising the role she had played in every iteration of Star Trek since the very first episode back in 1966.

Even before she married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in 1969, she was integral to Star Trek. She was the original first officer aboard the Enterprise—replaced after the pilot by Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock—and reappeared as the faithful Nurse Christine Chapel. When Star Trek: The Next Generation hit airwaves in the late-1980s, Barrett-Roddenberry took the recurring role of Lwaxana Troi—maternal gadfly to the Enterprise‘s counselor, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and romantic thorn to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). After Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991, Barrett-Roddenberry would eventually shepherd some of his ideas to fruition; she served as the executive producer of Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002) and Andromeda (2000-2005).

She was, and will remain, part of the very fabric of the Final Frontier. And, as such, the future as we imagine it to be. And, hey, every time your GPS orders you around in a sultry-yet-practical voice, remember who set the tone.

Comments (98 total) Add your comment
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  • Snarf

    Sad news but she leaves a legacy.
    She’ll probably “be” the computer voice for all things Trek for many years to come.

  • MSR

    It’s sad to hear of her death. I had just read about her being the computer in this film just Monday. I loved her role as Deanna’s mother, and will cherish it even more when I watch the episodes again.

  • Jim from Saint Paul

    **21 phaser salute**

  • Ian

    Such a watchable actress, and such a reassuring voice to have as the computer for so long. She really cared about Roddenberry’s legacy and the world is poorer for not having her in it any longer. But, her legacy is assured.

  • mdb

    A sad day in the Trek Universe – our founding mother has passed. May her memory live long in our heart.
    She being part of the new movie will get me in a seat – I was iffy before but now I will be there to honor her memory.

  • Jimmy

    In terms of acting contributions, I think Majel’s portrayal of Lwaxana Troi was her finest work. The character started out being comedic relief as Deanna Troi’s randy mother, but as the character developed Roddenberry showed a real dramatic side as the character confronted personal tragedy and growing older.
    One of her best TNG performances was the episode in which we discovered Deanna Troi had a brother who died young from drowning. Roddenberry’s performance was so beautiful and came not long after Gene Roddenberry’s death.
    The second best episode was in Deep Space Nine in which Troi is stuck in a lift with Odo who has to revert to his liquid form in front of a human. During their time together Troi talks about growing older and being alone. What started as a rather comedic appearance once again turned into a sweet dramatic moment.
    At the very least we’ll be able to hear her voice in the new Star Trek film as the ship’s computer.

  • kim in kentucky

    so sad to hear! ALWAYS loved it when she appeared as Lwaxana – she always made me smile.

  • Christine Neiburger

    Majel’s performances at Troi’s mother were among the best episodes of the Next Generation series. It’s tragic to lose her still so young. I’m not really a trekkie, but I loved her work and salute her. Godspeed, Majel.

  • Tina

    She was an absolute doll. I miss her already.

  • Abby

    Oh my goodness, I actually gasped aloud when I saw this headline. She was a great lady, and she’ll be sorely missed by us Trekkies/Trekkers.

  • DavidFSF

    R.I.P. At least she knew how much she meant to so many of us…

  • Leah

    Oh my god, I can’t believe she died! I remember being so ecstatic just a week ago when they announced she’d definitely be the computer voice in the movie. What a sad sad day!

  • Tim Lade

    Peace and Long Life.

  • Phil

    Godspeed Mrs. Majel Roddenberry!

  • Movie_Dearest

    I always loved her Nurse Chapel, and her Lwaxana was a hoot. Sad news, but she’s with Gene now.

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