EmptyMajel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and the voice of the USS Enterprise computer, died Dec. 18 of leukemia at her home in Bel Air. She was 76.
Roddenberry played Nurse Christine Chapel in the original "Star Trek" 1960s TV series and had smaller roles in many of its successors. She was the voice of the USS Enterprise computer in almost every incarnation of the series, reprising the role in the "Star Trek" movie directed by J.J. Abrams that is due out in May.
After her husband's death in 1991, Roddenberry continued to promote the "Star Trek" legacy at conventions. She also was the executive producer for two unrelated TV science fiction series, "Andromeda" and "Earth: Final Conflict."
Roddenberry began her acting career in the 1950s with roles on such shows as "Leave It to Beaver," "Bonanza" and "The Lucy Show."
Sam Bottoms, who had small but memorable roles in the 1970s classics "Apocalypse Now" and "The Last Picture Show," died Dec. 16 of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 53.
In "Apocalypse," Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic, Bottoms — one of four actor-brothers — played pro surfer-turned-soldier Lance B. Johnson, who takes to the waves amid bombs and bullets under the orders of the maniacal, surfing-mad Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall).
"He was a handsome, tall young man and very sweet-natured and seemed to be right for that part," Coppola said. "Sam was a good actor. Of course, he comes from a family that had a lot of theatrical activity."
In his 1971 film debut, a 15-year-old Bottoms starred alongside his best-known brother, Timothy, in "The Last Picture Show," playing a mute and mentally handicapped boy forced by friends to lose his virginity to a prostitute.
Sam Bottoms said he was in Texas to visit his brother, who was the film's lead, when director Peter Bogdanovich saw him and cast him in the part.
Sam Bottoms also appeared in the Clint Eastwood Westerns "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976) and "Bronco Billy" (1980) and another Coppola Vietnam film, "Gardens of Stone" (1987). He more recently appeared in "Seabiscuit" (2003), "Shopgirl" (2005) and "SherryBaby" (2006).
Horst Tappert, who played the gray, serious Munich police detective Derrick in the hit German series of the same name that ran almost 300 episodes from 1983-98, died Dec. 13 in Planegg, Germany. He was 85.
"Derrick" sold to 104 countries, still a record for a German show, and its success seemed to defy explanation. It was a cop show without violence, without sex and without much action. Tappert never drew his gun and rarely raised his voice. The show's tagline was his prosaic order to his junior partner: "Fetch the car, Harry."
Tappert won every major Teutonic TV prize and was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, the country's highest civilian honor.
Colleen May Mahan, a secretary at 20th Century Fox Studios for more than 30 years, died Nov. 27 from complications related to Alzheimer's. She was 84.
One of Mahan's first jobs in Hollywood was taking dictation poolside for actor Hugh O'Brian, and she also served as personal secretary to producer David O. Selznick for several years.
Robert Schlitt, a writer and producer who worked on such TV programs as "The Monkees" and "Matlock," died Nov. 25 of cancer at his Encino home. He was 75.
Schlitt and his writing partner Peter Meyerson collaborated on what was to become the first episode of "The Monkees" series in 1966. Schlitt continued to write for "Monkees" and other TV series from the 1960s to the '90s, including "Adam-12," "Hawaii Five-O," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Father Dowling Mysteries" and "Lou Grant."
The Brooklyn native also wrote the screenplays for two films, "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me" (1971) and "The Pyx" (1973).