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Michael Ansara, the rugged character actor who played Klingon commander Kang on
three different Star Trek TV series, has died. He was 91.
Ansara, who was married to actress Barbara Eden of I Dream of Jeannie fame, died
July 31 at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a prolonged illness, his former
publicist, Michael B. Druxman, said.
Born in a small village in Syria to American parents, Ansara starred as Native
American characters on two 1950s primetime series: ABC's Western Broken Arrow
(as Cochise) and NBC's Law of the Plainsman (as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam
Buckhart, an Apache).
Ansara is beloved by Star Trek fans as one of only seven actors to play the same
character -- in his case legendary Klingon warrior Kang -- on three versions of
the sci-fi series: the original (in the 1968 episode "Day of the Dove"), Deep
Space Nine (1994's "Blood Oath") and Voyager (1996's "Flashback").
He also had major roles in such films as 1953's Julius Caesar and The Robe (as
Judas); 1955's Jupiter’s Darling (his co-star in that film,
swimmer-turned-actress Esther Williams, died in June); 1961's Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea (he also appeared in the subsequent ABC series); The
Comancheros (1961) with John Wayne; The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Guns of
the Magnificent Seven (1969); The Bears and I (1974); The Message (1977); and
It’s Alive (1974).
Ansara came to the U.S. with his American parents at the age of 2. As a teen, he
and his family relocated to California, and he entered Los Angeles City College
with the intention of becoming a doctor.
A stint at the Pasadena Playhouse (where fellow students included Charles
Bronson, Carolyn Jones and Aaron Spelling) led to roles on stage and in films.
He was married to Eden from 1958-74. Their son, Matthew Michael Ansara, died in
2001. An actor, he died of an accidental heroin overdose at age 35.
The senior Ansara's many TV appearances also included The Untouchables, Alfred
Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, Lost in Space, I Dream of
Jeanniewith his wife, Hawaii Five-0 and James Michener's Centennial miniseries
as the Indian Chief Lame Beaver. He also voiced the role of Mr. Freeze on the
animated Batman series.
The deep-voiced Ansara, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, also was
married for a brief time in the 1950s to the late Jean Byron, who played the mom
on The Patty Duke Show.
His Sam Buckhart character was introduced in two episodes of another ABC
Western, The Rifleman.
"After that series I went two years without working at all," Ansara recalled in
a 1979 interview. "If you play one thing [in his case, a Native American], and
you play it well, they would type you, and it would be difficult to get other
Survivors include Beverly, his wife of 36 years, his sister Rose, his niece
Michelleand nephew Michael John.
A private service is pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St.
Michael's Antiochian Orthodox Churchin Van Nuys.
Ansara is one of seven actors to play the same character (in his case the
Klingon Commander Kang) on three different Star Trek TV series – the original
series ("Day of the Dove"), Deep Space Nine ("Blood Oath") and Voyager
("Flashback"). The other actors who hold this distinction are Jonathan Frakes
(Riker; TNG, Voyager and Enterprise), Marina Sirtis (Troi; TNG, Voyager and
Enterprise), Armin Shimerman (Quark; TNG, DS9 and Voyager), Mark Allen Shepherd
(Morn; TNG, DS9 and Voyager, although in the first and last, he only appeared in
brief cameos) John de Lancie (Q; TNG, DS9 and Voyager), and Richard Poe (Gul
Evek; TNG, DS9 and Voyager). Ansara also played Lwaxana Troi's husband Jeyal on
the Deep Space Nine episode, "The Muse".