Harve Bennett, Writer and Producer of 4 ‘Star Trek’ Films, Dies at 84 (Report)

Harve Bennett - P 2015
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Harve Bennett - P 2015

Earlier, he was an ABC exec and a producer of such projects as 'The Mod Squad,' 'The Six Million Dollar Man' and 'Rich Man, Poor Man.'

Harve Bennett, who wrote for and produced four Star Trek films starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, has died. He was 84.

Bennett, who won an Emmy Award for producing the 1982 telefilm A Woman Called Golda (1982), starring Ingrid Bergman as Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, died Feb. 25 at a hospital in Medford, Ore., according to the Medford Mail Tribune.

Bennett produced such series as The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff The Bionic Woman, and he executive produced one of the first miniseries, the acclaimed 1976 project Rich Man, Poor Man. All were for ABC.

His death came shortly before Nimoy died Feb. 27 in Los Angeles.

Paramount brought Bennett on the scene after the lackluster Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), and many credit him for rescuing the franchise. He took the reins on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989).

Bennett was captivated by the supervillain Khan (played by Ricardo Montalban), who appeared in a first-season episode of TV’s Star Trek, and he used the character (and Montalban) as the centerpiece of the second film in the series.

After the first Star Trek movie, Nimoy famously said he wanted no part of playing Mr. Spock ever again.

“Everyone said, ‘How are you going to get Leonard to do another one?’" he said in a 2006 interview with the website The Trek Nation. “I had an idea. I went to see Leonard who was then in a play and we had dinner afterward, and I said to him, ‘I know you don’t want to do any more Star Trek. Leonard, do you remember Psycho? Do you remember that the biggest star in that picture was killed, to everyone's shock, one-third of the way into the picture?’ He said yes, and I said, ‘I want to do that with Spock. I will give you the most glorious death scene ever played.’ He said that was a great idea, and he was on.”

Spock indeed was killed in Star Trek II — but, of course, he returns for the third film.

Following Star Trek, Bennett created two other sci-fi series for television in the 1990s, Time Trax for the Prime Time Entertainment Network and Invasion America, in a collaboration with Steven Spielberg, for the WB network.

A native of Chicago whose mother was a radio reporter, Bennett appeared starting at age 10 on the radio program The Quiz Kids in 1941 (he appeared on the show more than 200 times). He wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times as a teenager, graduated from UCLA with a degree in theater, served during the Korean War and landed a job as a producer at CBS in New York.

In 1956, Bennett returned to California and produced a daytime show hosted by Johnny Carson, then moved to ABC, where he was a vp in the programming department under Leonard Goldberg when the network was airing such shows as Peyton Place, Batman and The Fugitive.

Bennett left ABC to produce The Mod Squad with Aaron Spelling.

He also created with Steven Bochco the 1975-76 NBC sci-fi series The Invisible Man, starring The Man From U.N.C.L.E. actor David McCallum.

4:36 p.m., March 6 A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the date of death as March 4.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4