On September 14, 1936, the man who would be Chekov was born. Originally hired for Star Trek‘s second season due to his resemblance to then-popular Davy Jones of the Monkees, Koenig quickly became an integral part of the core cast, lasting through the rest of the series and seven films.
As Ensign Pavel Chekov, Koenig brought a somewhat younger energy and a touch of comic relief to the original Star Trek series, even if his Russian accent was almost completely inauthentic (most notably, native speakers of Russian are far more likely to turn “w” sounds into “v” sounds than the other way around — seriously, how did nobody notice that Chekov could pronounce his own first name without trouble?). While Chekov was only occasionally integral to the main story of an episode, his appearances were nearly always memorable, even when only for his ability to scream.
Koenig’s career is not limited to Chekov, of course. He had a very memorable turn as the devious recurring character Alfred Bester (named after the sci-fi grandmaster) on Babylon 5, and even had a starring role in the late 1980s sci-fi movie Moontrap, which co-starred the one and only Bruce Campbell — it’s not his fault the movie was so cliche-ridden it was released direct-to-video only. In more recent years, he’s appeared in a few independent films, written and directed several plays, and taught acting at various schools in the Los Angeles area. He’s also devoted considerable time and effort to help resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma (aka Myanmar).
Please join us at GeekDad in wishing Walter Koenig a very happy 74th birthday!