One of the original Klingons has died. Michael Ansara, best known to television audiences for his portrayal of the Klingon warrior Kang on three different series of the groundbreaking science-fiction franchise “Star Trek,” passed away at his home in Calabasas, Calif., July 31. He was 91.
Ansara’s former publicist, Michael B. Druxman, confirmed the news. “Michael and I have been friends since 1968,” Druxman told Entertainment Weekly. “He was my best friend. He had a long illness. He died at home. He was a great guy, and a wonderful actor.”
William Shatner, who famously portrayed Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek,” also acknowledged Ansara’s passing, in his case via Twitter:
Condolences to he family of Michael Ansara.
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— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) August 3, 2013
Born in Syria, Ansara and his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was 2, eventually moving to California.
Ansara broke into show business in the 1950s, guest-starring on hit TV shows such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” A decade later, a few guest-starring gigs on “I Dream of Jeannie” led him to meet his second wife, actress Barbara Eden.
Ansara first achieved significant mainstream success portraying Native American characters, including Cochise on “Broken Arrow,” which aired on ABC 1956-1958, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart on “Law of the Plainsman,” which was shown on NBC 1959-1960.
“After that series, I went two years without working at all,” Ansara said in a 1979 interview, according to Variety. “If you play one thing, and you play it well, they would type you, and it would be difficult to get other roles.”
Ansara also appeared on other popular shows, including “Lost in Space,” “Perry Mason,” “The Fugitive,” “The Outer Limits” and “The Untouchables.”
In addition to his television work, Ansara enjoyed a respectable film career, appearing in movies such as “Guns of the Magnificent Seven,” “Julius Caesar,” “The Comancheros,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”
Ansara would cement his legacy when he appeared as the Klingon villain Kang on the “Star Trek” episode “Day of the Dove” in 1968. Ansara would reprise the role on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” in 1994 and 1996, as well as on “Star Trek: Voyager” in 1996.
Ansara is survived by his wife of 36 years, Beverly Kushida, his sister Rose, his niece Michelle and his nephew Michael John.