Lawrence Montaigne, 'Star Trek' Actor Who Nearly Replaced Leonard Nimoy, Dies at 86

He also portrayed a P.O.W. in 'The Great Escape' and a robot henchman for the Joker on 'Batman.'

Lawrence Montaigne, who played a Romulan and then a Vulcan on episodes of the original Star Trek and at one point was lined up to replace Leonard Nimoy on the series, has died. He was 86.

Montaigne, who also appeared in the Steve McQueen war classic The Great Escape (1963) and on TV's Batman as a robot controlled by the Joker, died Friday in a hospital in Henderson, Nev., his daughter, Jessica, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Montaigne portrayed Decius on "Balance of Terror," the first-season, December 1966 episode that introduced the Romulan race — he has a memorable line, "Permit me the glory of the kill" — then played the Vulcan character Stonn on the second-season opener, "Amok Time," in September 1967.

In a 2012 interview with the website StarTrek.com, the actor said that between the first and second seasons of the NBC show, Nimoy was in talks to join the CBS crime drama Mission: Impossible and producers wanted Montaigne to replace him (perhaps as Spock or as another character) if indeed he departed.

"They did the contracts and the whole thing, but there was a stipulation in the contract that said if Leonard comes back, then the whole thing is over," he recalled. "I was going on the assumption that I was going to play Spock when my agent called and said, 'Leonard is coming back to do the show. He's in and you're out.'

"A week or two later, they called me to do this role of Stonn, who was a Vulcan. It all boiled down to the fact that Leonard and I looked alike to a great extent. I guess that's what they were looking for with Stonn."

(Nimoy eventually did land on Mission: Impossible in 1969, playing Paris, an ex-magician and master of disguise, after Star Trek was canceled.)

In the StarTrek.com interview, Montaigne said that after Nimoy returned, "I moved on. This was the 1960s, and I was doing a whole bunch of shows and films and having the time of my life. So, when Spock didn't happen, it really didn't change my life in any way."

In The Great Escape, directed by John Sturges, Montaigne played the Canadian P.O.W. Haynes, one of the prisoners who doesn't get out alive.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Rome, Montaigne early in his career appeared on Broadway, worked as a stuntman fencer in Scaramouche (1952) and danced in The Band Wagon (1953), starring Fred Astaire.

On ABC's Batman, he played Mr. Glee, a lifelike robot who becomes a bank teller at the behest of the felonious funnyman the Joker (Cesar Romero). Montaigne appeared often on television, with roles on such shows as The Outer Limits, Burke's Law, Hogan's Heroes, Dr. Kildare, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The F.B.I. and McCloud.

His body of film work also includes Tobruk (1967), The Power (1968), The Psycho Lover (1970) and Escape to Witch Mountain (1975).

Montaigne wrote novels as well as an autobiography, 2006's A Vulcan Odyssey.

Survivors also include his granddaughter, Lilianna.

 

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