When James Doohan Saved A ‘Star Trek’ Fan from Suicide

“We all have our darker side. We need it; it’s half of what we are. It’s not really ugly, it’s human.” —Scotty McCoy, Star Trek: The Original Series

In A Nutshell

Every sci-fi fan knows James Doohan played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Star Trek. But in addition to starring in one of the most famous shows in TV history, Doohan was also something of a superhero. Not only was the man a World War II veteran, he also saved one of his fans from committing suicide.

The Whole Bushel

Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Star Trek (or any of its many spin-offs), and even if you’ve never watched any of the Star Trek movies, you probably know of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the USS Enterprise. Since its television debut in 1966, Star Trek has become an iconic part of pop culture, and that’s why pretty much everybody on planet Earth knows the Vulcan salute, and that (darn it, Jim) McCoy is a doctor, and that if you need to get somewhere fast, you can just ask Scotty to “beam you up.”

One of the most iconic characters in the “Star Trek” universe, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott was the “Enterprise’s” chief engineer. Of course, the man who played everybody’s favorite Scotsman wasn’t really from the U.K. Actor James Doohan was actually a Canadian, and he was also something of a real-life superhero. During World War II, Doohan was a captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment, and when the Allies invaded Normandy in 1944, Doohan was one of the men who stormed Juno Beach.

Hours after landing in France, Doohan was hit by a Nazi machine gun. Not only did he take four bullets to the leg, he also lost his middle right finger in the attack. Luckily, a sixth bullet was deflected by a cigarette case in his pocket, sparing the future actor from an untimely death. After the war, Doohan joined a Toronto drama school and eventually made his way to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, all before boldly going where no nine-fingered Canadian actor had gone before: space, the final frontier.

As a cast member on Star Trek, Doohan helped mold the show we all know and love. For example, he was the guy who decided Scotty should be, you know, Scottish, and later on, he actually created the sound of the Klingon language. However, despite his contributions to the show and pop culture in general, perhaps Doohan’s greatest achievement was saving a depressed Star Trek fan from suicide.

According to Doohan, he once received a distressing fan letter from a woman who was giving serious thought to ending it all. Determined to save her life, Doohan called the lady and invited her to a convention in Indianapolis. When she showed up, Doohan made her promise to attend his next convention two weeks later in St. Louis. When she arrived a second time, he asked her to make the very same promise, to meet him at his next convention. Doohan kept this up for quite a while, inviting the woman to a total of 18 events. And each time, “all [he] did was talk positive things to her,” encouraging her with his words and with his smile.

But after that 18th convention, the woman stopped showing up. She just disappeared, and Doohan had lost her contact info and wasn’t sure how to reach her. The mysterious fan went silent for eight long years, and Doohan didn’t know if she was still alive or if she’d ended her life. Then, one day, Doohan received another letter from the same woman. This time, she was writing to say she was alive and well. In fact, she’d even received a Masters in Electronic Engineering, and her life was back on track, all thanks to the man who played Scotty.

According to Doohan, that was the best thing he’d ever done in his life.

Show Me The Proof

Featured photo via Wikipedia
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