Harve Bennett 1930-2015

Star Trek movie producer and TV executive dies aged 84


by James White |
Published on

Just days after the world lost Leonard Nimoy, another bright light from the Star Trek firmament has gone out. Harve Bennett, a respected TV producer who helped breathe new life into the series’ movie spin-offs, has died at the age of 84.

He may by no means be as well known as Nimoy, but he was crucial to the films’ survival beyond the critical flop that was The Motion Picture.

Born Harve Bennett Fischman in Chicago in 1930, showing early prowess as a trivia hound by appearing regularly on radio show Quiz Kids. After college, he set his sights on making movies and graduated from the UCLA film school in 1953. But before he started his career, he joined the US Army, serving as a military police officer in California. Following his honourable discharge, he headed for the production executive track, moved to New York to work for CBS and then switched to the programming department at ABC.

With that experience under his belt, Bennett became a producer, working with Aaron Spelling on The Mod Squad before heading to Universal Studios, where he produced The Six Million Dollar Man (it’s his voice you hear narrating the iconic credit sequence{ =nofollow}), The Bionic Woman, The Invisible Man and Gemini Man.

After a stint at Columbia Pictures TV (where he worked with Leonard Nimoy), he was brought over to Paramount Pictures for their television department. But his time in TV made him an attractive proposition for Paramount bosses Barry Diller, Michael Eisner and Charles Bluhdorn, who asked whether he could help make a second Star Trek film that would appeal to a wider audience and on a thriftier budget. He assured them he could and, based on the original series episode Space Seed, came up with the idea for The Wrath Of Khan, which finds the villainous superhuman (Ricardo Montalban) on a mission of vengeance against William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

Bennett began the script with Jack B. Sowards and worked with director Nicholas Meyer to finish it. It was a huge success, and led to Bennett working on Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, which he wrote and produced and Nimoy directed. They collaborated again on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and he then helped Shatner make Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, cameoing as Admiral Robert Bennett.

Though The Final Frontier was received poorly, Bennett continued to work on ideas for the film series, crafting a concept for a movie set at Starfleet Academy, which was ultimately passed over in favour of what became Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

After departing Paramount, Bennett worked on several other projects, including animated miniseries Invasion America, for which Nimoy provided a voice. He died in Oregon on Wednesday.

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