History of James “Scotty” Doohan

Montgomery Scott

Montgomery “Scotty” Scott

HISTORY OF JAMES “SCOTTY” DOOHAN

The actor James Doohan, who played the beloved engineer Montgomery Scott, or “Scotty” on the original Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise died today at his home in Redmond, Washington. He was 85 and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, lung fibrosis, and, most recently, pneumonia.

Born March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, he fought with the Royal Canadian Artillery during World War II and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, as part of the U.S.-led D-Day invasion. He lost a finger in the war, and it was rarely noticeable in the show, as they usually used a “stunt hand.”

He is immortalized by the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty,” although Capt. Kirk never issued that order during the TV series and indeed didn’t utter it until the subsequent fourth movie.

Meeting James Doohan

I met Mr. Doohan in 1975 on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley when I was a student. He was doing a play on campus about Ulysses S. Grant, and I was doing a show featuring theatrical fencing (and you thought I only studied history.)

When I saw him sitting on the lawn, I excitedly told my acting-student fencing partner,

“That’s the actor Jimmy Doohan!”

He replied,

“Who?”

I said

“Scotty, from Star Trek.”

We sat on the grass with him and talked for about an hour. We spoke about theater, which he loved, and how he would do that exclusively if it paid well enough, but needed to do the occasional movie or TV show to pay the bills. He had a rather gruff Canadian accent and discussed his skill and delight in accents. In the play, he portrayed an American Civil War officer.

Scottish James Doohan?

I asked a Scottish post-doctoral friend of mine if he thought Jimmy Doohan had an authentic Scottish accent. He replied,

“When he comes on, we watch and laugh at how bad his accent is!”

When my friends, who knew what a Star Trek junkie I was, ask if Mr. Doohan and I spoke about Star Trek, I replied,

“No, I didn’t want to seem like a sniveling fan.”

Here’s to ya, lad

 

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
billpetro.com

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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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