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James Doohan

James Doohan
File:James Doohan Actor.jpg
James Doohan
Born James Montgomery Doohan
(1920-03-03)March 3, 1920
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died July 20, 2005(2005-07-20) (aged 85)
Redmond, Washington, US
Resting place
Puget Sound, Washington
Outer space
Residence Redmond, Washington
Alma mater Neighborhood Playhouse
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952–2005
Known for Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
Home town Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Television Star Trek
Spouse(s) Janet Young (1949–1964)
Anita Yagel (1967–1972)
Wende Braunberger (1974–2005)

James Montgomery "Jimmy" Doohan (/ˈdən/ DOO-ən; March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005) was a Canadian character and voice actor best known for his role as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the television and film series Star Trek. Doohan's characterization of the Scottish Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise was one of the most recognizable elements in the Star Trek franchise, for which he also made several contributions behind the scenes. James Doohan started the Klingon and Vulcan languages. Many of the characterizations, mannerisms, and expressions that he established for Scotty and other Star Trek characters have become entrenched in popular culture.

Following his success with Star Trek, he supplemented his income and showed continued support for his fans by making numerous public appearances. As a result of his portrayal of Scotty, Doohan inspired many fans to pursue careers in engineering and other technical fields.[1]

Early life

Doohan was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the youngest of four children of William and Sarah Doohan, who emigrated from Bangor, County Down, Ireland.[2] His mother, Sarah Frances (née Montgomery), was a homemaker. His father, William Patrick Doohan, born in Belfast,[3] was a pharmacist, veterinarian, and dentist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.[4][5][6] William Doohan owned a chemist shop in Main Street in Bangor, beside Trinity Presbyterian Church. Doohan's father reportedly invented an early form of high-octane gasoline in 1923. Doohan's 1996 autobiography recounted his father's serious alcoholism. Doohan's paternal grandfather was Head Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, living in Cliftonville in Belfast in 1901 with his wife Margaret.[7]

The family moved from Vancouver to Sarnia, Ontario, and Doohan attended high school at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School (SCITS), where he excelled in mathematics and science. He enrolled in the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in 1938.[8]

Military service

At the beginning of the Second World War, Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery.[9] He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. He was sent to England in 1940 for training. His first combat was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers, Doohan led his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines, where they took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan was hit by six rounds fired from a Bren gun by a nervous Canadian sentry:[10] four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case given to him by his brother.[citation needed]His right middle finger had to be amputated, something he would conceal during his career as an actor.[11]

Doohan graduated from Air Observation Pilot Course 40 with 11 other Canadian artillery officers[12] and flew Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in support of 1st Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery. All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer-pilots and accompanied by non-commissioned RCA and RCAF personnel serving as observers.[13][14]

Although he was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Doohan was once labelled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force". In the late spring of 1945, on Salisbury Plain north of RAF Andover, he slalomed a plane between mountainside[dubious ] telegraph poles "to prove it could be done"—earning himself a serious reprimand. (Various accounts cite the plane as a Hurricane or a jet trainer; however, it was a Mark IV Auster.[15][16])

Early acting career

After the war, Doohan moved to London, Ontario for further technical education. After hearing a radio drama that he knew he could do better, he recorded his voice at the local radio station, and learned about a drama school in Toronto. There he won a two-year scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City,[17] where his classmates included Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall, and Richard Boone.

In 1946 he had several roles for CBC radio,[18] starting January 12. For several years he shuttled between Toronto and New York as work demanded. He estimated he performed in over 4,000 radio programs and 450 television programs during this period,[19] and earned a reputation for his versatility.[20]

In the mid-1950s he appeared as forest ranger Timber Tom (the northern counterpart of Buffalo Bob) in the Canadian version of Howdy Doody. Coincidentally, fellow Star Trek cast member William Shatner appeared simultaneously as Ranger Bill in the American version. Doohan and Shatner both appeared in the 1950s Canadian science fiction series Space Command.[18] Doohan also appeared in several episodes of Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans in 1957-58.

For GM Presents, he played the lead role in the 1956 CBC TV drama Flight into Danger, then in 1960's The Night they Killed Joe Howe.[21] (Arthur Hailey rewrote the former into the novel Runway Zero-Eight, then adapted to Terror in the Sky.)

Doohan's credits included The Twilight Zone, GE True, Hazel, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964, 1966) and Bonanza. In the Bonanza episode "Gift of Water" (1962), he co-starred with actress Majel Barrett who would later play Star Trek's Nurse Chapel. He played an assistant to the United States president in two episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He had an uncredited role in The Satan Bug (1965), appeared in an episode of Daniel Boone (TV series) "A perilous Passage" (1970), appeared as a state trooper in Roger Vadim's 1971 film Pretty Maids All in a Row (which was produced by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), and played opposite Richard Harris in the 1971 movie Man in the Wilderness, which was filmed in Spain.[19]

Star Trek

The handprints of James Doohan in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Doohan developed a talent for accents as a child.[16] Auditioning for the role of Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, before Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), Doohan did several different accents. Roddenberry asked which he preferred, and Doohan replied, "If you want an engineer, in my experience the best engineers are Scotsmen."[22] He chose the name "Montgomery Scott" after his grandfather.[22]

In later years, Doohan reenacted this casting process at Star Trek conventions, demonstrating a variety of possible voices and characters.[22] When Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Animated Series in the early 1970s, he exploited Doohan's versatility by having him perform most of the guest male roles, including that of Robert April, which the show cited as the Enterprise's first captain. Doohan was the alien navigator Lieutenant Arex,[23] and provided seven different voices for another episode.[24]

The Scott character was originally conceived as semi-regular; but along with fellow cast members Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), Doohan's character was elevated in importance to leads alongside William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk. It was established that, owing to his high technical skills, Lt. Cmdr. Scott was the third-in-command of the Enterprise, and at times the ship was left in his care. Scott was frequently used in subplots regarding disabled ship components (such as the dilithium crystals which regulated the warp drive, the transporter teleportation device, or just fiddling in the Jefferies tubes) and as a foil for Kirk's ambitious tactical approaches, which often strained the starship's propulsion and/or defenses to their limits ("I cannae push it any faster, Captain!" or "I cannae guarantee that she'll hold up!"). In this capacity, Scott proved his resourcefulness in demanding technical situations, often holding the Enterprise together with little more than a few spare parts and some Scottish stubbornness. In the end, many fans saw the Enterprise itself as the show's star, leaving Scott in the enviable position of her defender. For example, in "The Trouble With Tribbles", Scott stands idly by and even keeps Chekov from starting any trouble as a Klingon insults Kirk; however, Scott is finally provoked into violence when the Klingon insults the Enterprise herself.

Doohan was quoted as saying, "Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent."[19][25] Using his considerable vocal skills, Doohan devised the Vulcan and Klingon language dialogue heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Later, professional linguists, particularly Marc Okrand, expanded Klingon into a fully constructed language with a working grammar. In addition to playing Scotty, Doohan also did many guest voices on Star Trek including:

After Star Trek

File:Doohan James NASA 19670413.jpg
Doohan (left) visiting NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center with pilot Bruce Peterson April 13, 1967 in front of the Northrop M2-F2.

Doohan hoped that Star Trek would benefit his acting career.[16] After the series ended, however, he found himself typecast and had a hard time getting other roles. After his dentist reminded him he would "always be Scotty", he supported his family with income from personal appearances.[26] Unlike some other members of the cast, Doohan relished meeting fans and was always ready to entertain with a story or a song.

Most of the parts Doohan subsequently played made at least oblique references to his Trek fame and engineering reputation. He was Captain in the short-lived Saturday morning live-action kids' show, Jason of Star Command, and had a cameo in the made-for-TV movie Knight Rider 2000 as "Jimmy Doohan, the guy who played Scotty on Star Trek". In the TV series Homeboys in Outer Space, he was Pippen, a pun on Scotty and basketball star Scottie Pippen. He played himself in an episode of The Ben Stiller Show. He played Damon Warwick, father of James Warwick, on the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.[27] After learning about cold fusion from technical journals in 1989, he narrated the video "Cold Fusion: Fire From Water", about the physics behind cold fusion.[17]

When the Star Trek franchise was revived, Doohan reprised his role of Scotty in seven Star Trek films and made a guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation's 130th episode "Relics". Many of Doohan's film appearances centered on the role of Scotty, such as a cameo in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, where he plays a policeman doing repair work who tells his superior officer "I am giving it all she has got, Captain!" in the same accent he used in Star Trek. However, he refused to contribute to the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" or allow his image to be used in it, and was "replaced" in the episode by the created character "Welshie" who was ultimately given the redshirt treatment.

Although he continued to work with William Shatner in the Star Trek films, in private life Doohan didn't get along well with Shatner and was once quoted as saying, "I like Captain Kirk, but I sure don't like Bill."[26] He was the only former Star Trek co-star to decline to be interviewed by Shatner for Shatner's first Star Trek: Memories book about the show, nor did he consent to do so for Shatner's follow-up book, Star Trek: Movie Memories, though Shatner mentioned in the latter that the icy relationship between the two started to thaw, when both men were working on Star Trek Generations in 1993-1994. [28] At Doohan's final August 2004 convention appearance, Doohan and Shatner appeared to have mended their relationship.[29]

Doohan's final role was that of Clive Chives in the 1999 British film The Duke.


Many fans told Doohan over the years that it was he who inspired them to choose engineering as a profession. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, an engineer before he participated in NASA's Apollo program, personally told Doohan on stage at Doohan's last public appearance, "From one old engineer to another, thanks, mate."[30] In a later interview for the first Trekkies film, Doohan related the story of a young fan who was contemplating suicide. Doohan says that he convinced her to attend his next convention appearance, and later learned that his encouragement and kind words had not only saved her life, but inspired her to go back to school and become an electronics engineer.[31]

Personal life

Doohan was married three times and had seven children, four of them—Larkin, Deirdre, twins Christopher and Montgomery—with his first wife Janet Young, whom he divorced in 1964. His marriage to Anita Yagel from 1967 to 1972 produced no children. In early 1974, he was introduced to 17-year-old fan Wende Braunberger at a theatre performance. They were married that same year, when she was 18 and he 54, on October 12, 1974. Star Trek actor William Campbell served as best man.[32][33] Doohan and Braunberger had three children: Eric, Thomas, and Sarah in 2000, around his 80th birthday.[34] In July 2004, Doohan announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in addition to his existing Parkinson's disease and diabetes, and would be withdrawing from public life.

His sons Montgomery and Christopher appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and in the J. J. Abrams reboot Star Trek 2009. Simon Pegg, who played Scotty in the film, invited the Doohans to the premiere.[35] For Star Trek Into Darkness in 2012, fans campaigned for Christopher Doohan[36] gaining him a cameo in the transporter room.[37] Chris Doohan plays Scotty in the 2013 web series Star Trek Continues.[35]


Doohan suffered from Parkinson's disease, diabetes mellitus, and pulmonary fibrosis in later life. In 2004 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.[38]

On July 20, 2005, at 5:30 in the morning, Doohan died at his home in Redmond, Washington.

His ashes, ¼ ounce (7 grams), were scheduled the following fall for a memorial flight to space with 100 others, including Project Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper.[39][40] Launch on the SpaceLoft XL rocket was delayed to April 28, 2007, when the rocket briefly entered outer space in a four-minute suborbital flight before parachuting to earth, as planned, with the ashes still inside.[41] The ashes were subsequently launched on a Falcon 1 rocket, on August 3, 2008, into what was intended to be a low Earth orbit; however, the rocket failed two minutes after launch.[42] The rest of Doohan's ashes were scattered over Puget Sound in Washington.[43][44] On May 22, 2012, a small urn containing some of Doohan's remains in ash form was flown into space aboard the Falcon 9 rocket as part of COTS Demo Flight 2.[45]


Scotty's exploits as the Enterprise's redoubtable chief engineer inspired many students to pursue careers in engineering. Because of this, the Milwaukee School of Engineering presented Doohan with an honorary degree in engineering.[46] Doohan was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 31, 2004. Despite his ill health, he was present at the ceremony, which was his final public appearance.[47]

Montgomery Scott was claimed by Linlithgow, Scotland in 2007 by a commemorative plaque from the West Lothian Council for Doohan's importance.[48] His birthplace is also attributed to Aberdeen[49] where Doohan learned the accent,[50] or Elgin. Scotty's accent chosen by Doohan implies most formative years spent at or near Edinburgh, also per possible original script notes.[51]


Science fiction novels (The Flight Engineer series)


  1. "Obituary: James Doohan". BBC News. July 20, 2005. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  2. "1911 Census". National Census of 1911. National Archives of Ireland. 
  3. "1901 Census". National Census of 1901. National Archives of Ireland. 
  4. James Doohan profile at Film
  7. "1911 Census". National Census of 1911. National Archives of Ireland. 
  8. "#102 Cadet Corps". The Official History Website of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. Army Cadet League of Canada. Retrieved May 15, 2013. C/Maj James Doohan (1938-40) 
  9. Enk, Bryan. "Real Life Tough Guys". Yahoo!. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  10. Graves, Donald E. (2005). Century of Service. New York: Midpoint Trade Books Inc. p. 244. ISBN 1-896941-43-5. 
  11. Despite his efforts, the injured hand can be seen in several Star Trek episodes: "The Trouble With Tribbles", "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", "The Enemy Within", "The Ultimate Computer" and "Catspaw", as well as in The Search for Spock when giving parts from the USS Excelsior to Dr. Leonard McCoy, in The Final Frontier when Nyota Uhura brings him dinner on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-A, and in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics", when the missing finger is clearly apparent as Scotty offers Captain Jean-Luc Picard a drink while on a re-creation of the original Enterprise bridge.
  12. Knight, Darrell (2010). Artillery Flyers at War. Bennington: Merriam Press. p. 482. ISBN 978-0-557-32964-9. 
  13. Battle History 666. Calgary: Abel Book Company. 2006. 
  14. Fromow, D. L. (2002). Canada's Flying Gunners: A History of the Air Observation Post of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. Air O.P. Pilot's Association. ISBN 0-9730055-0-5. 
  15. Whitfield, Stephen E. (1968). The Making of Star Trek. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 245. ISBN 0-345-24691-8. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "'Star Trek' Ace Is Former Pilot". Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pennsylvania). United Press International. April 21, 1969. pp. B12. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Koolstra, Jeffrey D. (July–Aug 1999). "An Interview with James "Scotty" Doohan". Infinite Energy (26). Retrieved May 15, 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. 18.0 18.1 "James Doohan: Giving it all he's got - CBC 75th Anniversary". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. July 13, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "James Doohan - Interview". Sci-fi Online. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  20. "Star Trek Doohan, James". Star CBS Studios Inc. 
  21. "Joseph Howe Subject of Show". The Gazette. October 1, 1960. p. 26. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Scott D. Pierce (April 16, 1993). "`SCOTTY' HAS ACCENTED VERSATILE ACTOR'S CAREER". Deseret News. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  23. "Behind The Voice Actors - James Doohan". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  24. "James Doohan". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  25. Dillard, J.M.; Susan Sackett (April 1996). Star Trek: Where no-one has gone before (Second Revised ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 17. ISBN 978-0671002060. Retrieved May 15, 2013. The character is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Actor James Doohan, 85; Played Scotty on 'Star Trek'". The Washington Post. Associated Press. July 21, 2005. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  27. "Ian on 'The Bold and the Beautiful'". Ian Buchanan ONLINE. Retrieved May 15, 2013. James Doohan... guest-starred for several appearances as James` dad Damon 
  28. Shatner, William, Star Trek: Movie Memories. Harper Collins: New York, 1994
  29. Anthony Pascale (December 9, 2010). "George Takei: William Shatner Refused To Appear On-Stage With James Doohan At Farewell Con". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  30. "R.I.P. James Doohan 1920-2005". Soul of Star Trek. July 20, 2005. 
  31. Doohan tells the anecdote in the 1997 documentary Trekkies, directed by Roger Nygard
  32. "Wende and James Doohan Marriage Profile". Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  33. "Wende Braunberger Doohan". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 6, 2007. 
  34. "Sarah's dad age 80". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Chris Doohan Cameo on Into Darkness, Web series Star Trek Continues". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  36. Star Trek Fans (January 17, 2012). "Bring Back Christopher Doohan for 'Star Trek XII'". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  37. "Chris cameo Into Darkness". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  38. "Star Trek Scotty has Alzheimer's". BBC News. July 7, 2004. Retrieved February 6, 2007. 
  39. "L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. - Participant on board The Legacy Flight". Space Services Inc. 
  40. Korte, Tim (July 26, 2006). "'Star Trek's' Scotty Sending Ashes to Space". Associated Press. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  41. CNN, 'Scotty's' 'beamed up' ashes fall in New Mexico, May 19, 2007.
  42. – SpaceX Falcon I FAILS during first stage flight
  43. Lane, Frederick (April 3, 2007). "Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Headed to Space". Sci-Tech Today. Retrieved April 3, 2007. 
  44. CNN News: 'Star Trek' actor's ashes heading to space this month
  45. Moskowitz, Clara (May 22, 2012). "Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Ride Private Rocket Into Space". New York: Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  46. James Doohan. James Doohan on engineering students. 
  47. "Last Appearance". American Cowboy: 14. Nov–Dec 2004. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  48. Doohan us proud
  49. Underwood, Alva (2008). Star Trek: The Reader's Reference to the Novels 1988-1989. Volume 7. Kobo. p. 333. ISBN 1434350304. born on the 3rd of March 222 (sd 1269.5) to Kathleen and William Donald Scott in Aberdeen, Scotland. 
  50. "Aberdeen Accent". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  51. "Aberdeen claims Scotty". Retrieved May 15, 2013. 

Further reading

External links

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