Majel Barrett Roddenberry, 1932 – 2008

By Phil Plait | December 18, 2008 3:14 pm

I just heard that Majel Barrett Roddenberry has died. She had a huge role in the Star Trek universe, playing Nurse Chapel in the original series (as well as "Number 1" in the show pilot), Lwaxana Troi in Next Generation, the voice of the computer in every post-TOS series, and was also the wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry.

Sigh. As irritating as Lwaxana Troi’s character was, I always liked the flair with which Roddenberry played her. And there were times when she teased the overly-stuffy Captain Picard that made me smile.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (44)

  1. Ken

    At least she was able to finish the voice work for the new movie.

    A sad for Trek fans around the world.

  2. Kevin

    Sad news. I had heard that she is (was) going to be the computer voice in the new Trek film. I hope they had completed her part.

  3. She will be missed, after all the only Shakespeare I remember with any real clarity I was what bits and pieces Picard recited to Lwaxana while she was “captive” on the Ferengi ship. Wow, I can’t believe I actually just admitted that

  4. This is a pity. I’ll be posting up a little obit on my blog tonight. Lwaxana Troi was largely annoying, but she did have her good moments (like her first appearance on DSN).

  5. Greg in Austin

    She did live long, and she prospered.
    She will be remembered forever.

    8)

  6. Oh no. I feel like it’s the end of an era.

  7. tripencrypt
  8. I really wish I could call “INNACURATE. INNACURATE. DATA IN ERROR.”, but alas, I can’t. :(

  9. StephenD

    Oh – I’m gutted. She was just great!

  10. The voice of the computer in every post-TOS series? Wasn’t she the voice of the computer in TOS itself? IMDB doesn’t seem to think so but this is what I recall.

  11. Wow. I’ve been rewatching all of ST:TNG for the past week or so. I’ve really enjoyed her Lwaxana Troi character this time around. She will be remebered, indeed.

  12. that’s sad..
    i liked her playing Lwaxana Toi..

  13. Miranda

    Singe, I think she was the computer voice on TOS as well. I also understood her claim to fame being that she is the only person to play a part in every single Trek series (being the computer voice in most cases). This may apply to the movies as well, not sure.

  14. Scott

    How sad! So many of the people whose work I enjoyed throughout my life are passing on these past few years. I enjoyed her work and while Lwaxana Troi was a pest, she was an entertaining pest.

  15. Mick

    I always liked Lwaxana, because she occassionally popped up to annoy Picard (she was the only thing he feared probably! And there was something funny about that.) But not often enough to get on MY nerves. (Wesley Crusher on the other hand… Even his ACTOR thought the character sucked.) So I’d have to say I liked her work.

    Anywas 76 isn’t the worst age I guess you could reach, right? As we always say in my family, when you are old, it one day happens. Its sad, but natural, easier to accept then someone dying young.

    (Doesn’t mean I’d be the least bit averse to biochemically altering myself to live for several centuries with perfect youth. (I mean its not like I have or want kids anyway so *I* am not overpopulating if I where to stick around.) But still, in the end it is the nature of living things to die one supposes. I think it was Mark Twain, though it may have been someone else, who said he didn’t fear death, because before he was born he wasn’t around either and that hadn’t been any trouble.

  16. JB of Brisbane

    @Miranda – for your info.

    “Number One” – “The Cage” pilot episode
    Nurse Christine Chapel – TOS
    Doctor Christine Chapel – Movies
    Lwaxana Troi – TNG, DS9
    Computer Voice – TNG and onwards, maybe once or twice during TOS, movies

    That’s to the best of my knowledge. Anyone feel free to correct me.

  17. Zann

    She also did voice work on “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and voiced the computer in a couple of ST video games as well as the computer version of the encyclopedia and a couple compendiums.

  18. Gary Ansorge

    As Mark Twain said (on ST:TNG) “The world got along just fine before humanity came along. I expect it will do just as well without us,,,” or something like that.

    We may also get along w/o Majel just fine but I’ll still miss her. Bummer!

    At the rate I’m going, I’ll be the last man standing. Now, you young whippersnappers, get going on life extension. ’cause I’ll miss you too if you go,,,

    GAry 7

  19. Richard

    When I watched TOS when I was a youngin’, I had a crush on Nurse Chapel.

    I actually met Majel at a Star Trek convention in Central California. She was indeed the nicest person on that panel. A smile for everyone and a heart bigger than the room itself.

    I’ll miss her on a personal level, I think.

    Goodbye Majel.

  20. Calamity Janeway

    Miranda, she was indeed the voice of the computer on TOS, just uncredited. I can still hear it, with that robotic tone she put on: “Working”
    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Majel_Barrett#Federation_computer_voice

    Sigh.

    I know this is superficial but I loved how she could rock both black hair and platinum. A beautiful lady on many levels. Majel, you’ll be missed.

  21. In many, many ways, Majel was a part of our lives. Gene had been a humanitarian as well, and I know I have read more than one article in the past on her helping out where she could as well. She was a great actor whom did more than just Star Trek, though that is what we will remember her for. She helped some of her husbands unpublished work, and some of his notes become other series, or ideas to shape the world we know.

    No matter what, she did in her time, she is best known for the work she accomplished on the show. It might not be an earth shattering way to be remembered, but she will be.

    For a good actress, and a loving wife of brilliant man, a humanitarian, and a largely loving human being. You will be missed by many people. May she always be remembered for the many parts and roles she played, on and off stage, no matter the “scenes” she played in life.

    The ones you love are never truly gone, as long as you remember them, and keep them in your heart.

    ~Gronok

  22. Scott Smith

    Sad news. She made one very big footprint all over the Star Trek universe. And as far as your comment about Lwaxana Troy… You must be warped. ;-) Lwaxana was always one of the characters I loved to see show up on my TV screen. She lightened up what at times became a stuffy atmoosphere.

    Ah well, we all have different tastes. You like David Tennet as Dr. Who, to the point of a man-crush. On the other hand, he is the one thing that’s kept me from enjoying the show since he took over the role. If it wasn’t for the companions the good Doctor has had, I wouldn’t have even ever turned on the tv to watch.

    Keep up the good work on the blog, and why in the big hairy aren’t you on tv?

  23. James

    She always did tease Picard, but her performance in the TNG episode “The Dark Half” was outstanding. She will be missed greatly.

  24. oooh, this is sad. I loved the way her character used to tease Picard

  25. Daniel J. Andrews

    Very sad indeed. In tribute, I’ve changed my computer’s sound scheme so instead of MS beeps and whistles, I have Majel’s TNG computer voice informing me of various items. RIP.

  26. fred edison

    I loved her character on ST:TNG. Lwaxana was amusing and interesting. I think Picard admired her boldness and quirkiness, even though she might have gotten on his nerves at inopportune times.

    Majel was an important part of the Star Trek universe, as she will always be. She had a good heart that loved animals and loved people. Indeed, it was a hell of a ride for a grand lady. She is greatly missed.

  27. David

    “Warp core breach imminent.”

    Goodbye Majel…thanks for everything.

  28. Hal's Dave

    How very sad, she will be greatly missed.

  29. Grand Lunar

    I never knew this occurred!

    At least she’s part of the universe once more, with her great husband.

    She certainly did have a big role, even if being mostly known as a computer’s voice.

  30. !astralProjectile

    Very sad.

    Favorite scenes: Bones and Chapel getting thrown around Sick Bay in the PG13+ blooper reel, and Lwaxana, Alexander, Worf and Deanna in the hot-mud tub. Worf’s expression was priceless.

    I forgot she was #1 in the pilot.

  31. Darth Robo

    I met her too, maybe ten years back or so? She was signing stuff at Forbidden Planet. Very friendly, gracious and outgoing, she couldn’t help but make everyone smile. I remember someone bringing a baby and she had a little joke around with him.

    My heart goes out to her family and all who knew her.

  32. GregV

    RIP. I used to be irritated by her character, but I think perhaps she was just a skilled actor who played the part faultlessly. Much like Kai Winn in the DS9 series – I used to hate Kai Winn so much. And then I realized that for that actress to pull off that character so convincingly, to make me have such a powerful reaction to her, she must really have mad skills.

  33. Charles Boyer

    ^ Michelle Forbes also comes to mind.

    She was FLAWLESS as Admiral Helena Cain on Battlestar Galactica. Not too many of us male BSG fans don’t have a Cain crush. DS9 fans really missed out on Ensign Ro, as Forbes was flawless with her portrayal of that short-lived character.

    Majel Barrett carried a pretty mean clipboard, too. Captain Kirk always liked signing it, and how he never dropped the pen has always been a mystery to me.

  34. Todd W.

    For anyone that’s interested, her obit is available here:

    www (dot) legacy.com/Obituaries.asp?page=LifeStory&personId=121554052

  35. She was a great-classt lady………..we will dearly miss her.

  36. My-Name-is-Kenneth

    A while back there was an ST:TNG novel (can’t think of the title) where Lwaxana meets and falls for Q, who turns her into a Q as well!

    SPOILERS COMMENCE!

    It turns out Q was just using her to see what human love was all about. Well, you don’t p*ss of Lwaxana, especially if she now has the power of the Q. She turned Q into a tree and had him rooted to the deck of the Enterprise, where she then proceeds to get ready to chop him up with a huge battle axe! Q is screaming for mercy and the best part is when he asks Worf of all people for help and the Klingon warrior happily offers to help collect the kindling after Lwaxana is done with him. :^)

    Farwell Majel – you will live on for generations thanks to Star Trek.

  37. My favorite role of hers is still the Dowager Empress in Babylon 5.

    everyone always forgets Bab 5 :(

  38. Amy F.

    My-Name-is-Kenneth:
    It was called Q-in-law. And the audio version is hilarious, Majel and John de Lancie do the reading together.

  39. Yoeman

    Very sad news………..

  40. I got an email about this yesterday at about the time the news hit the Twitter world. Wrote a blog entry about her death and then spent some time thinking about what a great actor this woman was. I wouldn’t mind aging if I knew I could be as exuberant as she was, and as exuberant as she played Lwaxana Troi. No fear… no regrets.

    Hailing frequencies closed, Majel Barrett Roddenberry. You will be missed!

  41. *sniff*

    I liked the character of Lwaxana Troi. She was rather over-the-top, but she lent a comic air to the stuffy atmosphere of TNG. Also, she was quite capable of pulling some real tear-jerkers when she let down her silly front to show her sensitive and vulnerable side. (And I suspect it wasn’t all acting – the episode where she talks to Alexander about being alone wasn’t filmed too long after Gene’s death, if I recall.) And oh, how funny it was to see her make Odo uncomfortable.

    Majel Barrett Roddenberry may be gone, but with any luck the Roddenberry dream – one of hope and optimism for the future – will live on.

  42. StevoR

    Deanna Troi was gorgeous. I had a major crush on her. ;-)

    Not so much her mum Lwaxana but .. Yes she will be missed. THG was tehbets of the Trek series if you ask me .but then Deanaa may have got me abit biased there! ;-)

    arkonbey said on December 19th, 2008 at 9:02 am :

    “My favorite role of hers is still the Dowager Empress in Babylon 5.
    Everyone always forgets Bab 5!”

    Not me! I loved Babylon 5 & still consider it the greatest SF TV show ever. Bar none.

    Dowager empress – was she the one who had the prophecy / vision about the Shadows destroying B5 and finally got blown away by the first Shadow battleship outside the station before the Shadows had emerged? Is that the right one?

  43. StevoR

    D’oh! That’s ‘TNG’ ie. ‘Star Trek : The Next Gen’ not THG! Arrgh! typos. :-(

    Vale Majel Barrett Roddenberry.

  44. SEO

    She will be missed………….what a great lady……….may she rest in peace.

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