Born Today: Majel Barrett- February 23, 1932
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (b. Majel Leigh Hudec on February 23, 1932 in Columbus, Ohio) is an American actress, and producer. She is also the widow of television director/producer/writer and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. As a result of her marriage to Gene Roddenberry and the fact that she has been in every Star Trek series, she is sometimes referred to as “the First Lady of Star Trek.” She and Gene Roddenberry were married in Japan on August 6, 1969, after the cancellation of the original Star Trek series.
Barrett attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She came to Hollywood in the 1950s. She worked at the Desilu Studios on several TV shows, including Bonanza, The Untouchables, The Lucy Show, and The Lieutenant. She received training in comedy from Lucille Ball. In 1960 she played Gwen Rutherford on Leave it to Beaver. She was also briefly seen in the film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? at the very beginning, in an ad parody.
Majel Barrett has been in every incarnation of the popular science fiction Star Trek franchise. She first appeared in Star Trek's initial pilot, "The Cage," as the USS Enterprise's unnamed First Officer, "Number One". Barrett is said to have been cast as Number One in part because of her romantic involvement with Roddenberry. The idea of having an otherwise unknown woman in a leading role with a position of authority, because she was his girlfriend, is said to have infuriated NBC network executives who insisted that Roddenberry give the role to a man. In Star Trek Memories, which he dictated to Chris Kreski, William Shatner corroborated this, but he added that female viewers at test screenings hated the character as well.
Her role in subsequent episodes of Star Trek was altered to that of Nurse Christine Chapel. In an early scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, viewers are informed that she has now become Doctor Chapel, a role which she reprises in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Barrett provided several voices for Star Trek: The Animated Series, including those of Nurse Chapel and the communications officer M'Ress, the felinoid (more properly ailuroid) Caitian who served alongside Uhura. Years later, she would return in Star Trek: The Next Generation, cast as the outrageously self-deterministic, iconoclast Betazoid Ambassador Lwaxana Troi. Barrett, as Troi, would also later appear in several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
She also provided the regular voice of starship onboard computers for Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and most of the Star Trek movies. She reprised her role as a shipboard computer voice in the two episodes of the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise that involved an earlier time period--a century before the time of Kirk and Spock aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701. She has also lent her voice to various computer games and software related to the franchise.
As a result of her providing the computer voice in the Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly", Barrett became the first and only actor to participate in all six Star Trek TV series, as well as in both the TOS and TNG film series.