Michael Ansara who played the Star Trek Klingon Kang has died aged 91. Ansara’s former agent, Michael B Druxman, announced his death Friday. The cause of death was said to be from complications of Alzheimer’s.
Michael George Ansara came into the world on April 15, 1922. He was born in a small Syrian village and came to America with his parents when he was just two years-old. Ansara worked as an actor on stage and screen and provided the voice for several animated programs.
He got his big start in the western genre starring as the Apache Cochise in the American TV western series Broken Arrow in 1956. While Ansara wasn’t too pleased with his character arc in the show, it catapulted his career. The actor did say that playing the noble indian was frustrating. He said, “Cochise could do one of two things; stand with his arms folded, looking noble; or stand with his arms at his sides, looking noble.”
Keeping to the western genre that he would return to several times in his career, he played Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart on the NBC series, Law of the Plainsman from 1959 t0 1960. He worked in some of the most popular western television shows of the 1950s and 1960s. Guest starring in Rawhide and Wagon Train. He also worked in the western film The Comancheros with John Wayne, Stuart Whitman and Ina Balin.
Because of his Syrian heritage, Ansara was cast in many roles as an American Indian. But aside from ethnic type-casting, Ansara worked in many films and television shows, he even worked with the late Elvis Presley in the 1965 film Harum Scarum.
But it was as the Klingon leader Kang in Star Trek that Michael Ansara is best remembered. He originally played the role in the 1968 television series and he came back two more times to work on the “spin-offs” created by the first Star Trek. He reprised his role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Michael was one of just a few actors who played the same role on three different “Star Treks.”
Michael Ansara studied at Los Angeles City College with the idea of being a doctor, but his participation in the drama department changed his mind. He started his career in film with his debut role in the 1944 thriller “Action in Arabia.”
As well as working in some of the best known television shows in America, Ansara stayed in great demand as a character actor and worked steadily until 2001 where he voiced Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze for the Batman: Vengeance video game. His last film role was in 1999 where he worked on the independent film Long Road Home.
Mr. Ansara was married three times; to the actress Jean Byron, the actress Barbara Eden, (who played Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie) and the actress Beverly Kushida. He is survived by his wife Beverly and his sister Rose Bowers.
Michael Ansara was an actor who went from saddle to space in his roles, although he’ll be more remembered for his Star Trek Klingon Kang than his earlier western roles. The actor died on Wednesday at home in Calabasas, California aged 91.
By Michael Smith