Joanne Linville, Star Trek Actress, Dies At 93
Joanne Linville, who was best known for playing a Romulan commander in the original Star Trek series, passed away on Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 93. Linville was the first woman to play a Romulan in the Star Trek franchise. She was a familiar face to generations of TV audiences, appearing on shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Along with fellow actress Irene Gilbert, Linville co-founded the Stella Adler Academy in Los Angeles in 1985, and had an acting career on stage and screen that stretched from 1950 until 2016, although the vast majority of her acting work happened before 1990.
Linville’s agent confirmed her passing in a story that ran at Variety. They note that she is survived by ex-husband Mark Rydell, children Amy and Christopher, her grandchildren, Austen, Ruby and Ginger, and great-grandson Kingston Fisher Lourd Rydell.
“Linville lived a full life,” said her representative in a statement. “One whose spirit, passion for art and life was an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”
The Stella Adler Academy co-founded by Linville was a West Coast extension of the prestigious acting conservatory founded by Adler herself. Its alumni include Nick Nolte, Salma Hayek, Eric Stoltz, Sean Astin, John Cybill Shepherd, Michael Richards, Benicio del Toro, and Mark Ruffalo.
Mark A. Altman, director of the Star Trek-themed romantic comedy Free Enterprise, tweeted that he was saddened by the death of Linville, whom he described as “perhaps the best thing about Star Trek‘s third season.”
Of her character, who appeared in the episode “The Enterprise Incident,” Altman said that she was “Commander of not one, but three Roman flagships and custodian of the cloaking device and, for a time, Mr. Spock’s heart.” The unnamed Romulan commander is widely regarded by fans as one of the best early Trek villains.
In addition to her numerous memorable guest-starring roles on TV over the years, Linville maintained a film career that stretched from 1958’s The Goddess all the way up through 2001, when she apeared as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper opposite James Franco in James Dean. In addition to Trek, her memorable TV appearances included Dynasty, Barnaby Jones, Gunsmoke, and Hawaii Five-O.
With co-writer John Deck, Linville wrote Seven Steps to an Acting Craft, published in 2011, which is still in wide circulation ten years later.
Our thoughts go out to Ms. Linville’s friends, family, fans, and colleagues.