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26 September 2010

Star Trek's Nurse Chapel

The soft-focus, platinum blonde loveliness of Nurse Chapel.

One of my favorite Star Trek ladies has always been Nurse Christine Chapel.

Nurse Chapel was played by Majel Barret, born Majel Leigh Hudec in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1932. In the 1950's and 60's, Barrett had secured bit parts in film and television before her stint as the USS Enterprise's competent but compassinate head nurse.

On contract at Lucille Ball's Desilu studios in the early 60's, Barrett had received comedy training from Ball herself, and appeared in The Lucy Show.

It was on the set of The Lieutenant in 1964 that Majel Barrett met Gene Roddenberry, father of the Star Trek franchise. The two became romantically involved, while Roddenberry was still married to his first wife.

Majel Barrett in her role as Number One.

During this time, Roddenberry was developing a pilot for what was to become Star Trek. Roddenberry chose Barrett (his mistress) to play Number One, the first officer of the Enterprise, in his initial pilot entitled "The Cage".

"The Cage" was initially rejected by NBC, but Roddenberry was given the chance to produce a second pilot. The network asked, however, that the steely Number One character be dropped, citing that audiences would never accept a woman being second-in-command of a ship. (The fact that Majel Barrett was Roddenberry's on-the-sly girlfriend didn't help, either...)

When Star Trek was picked up as a series in 1966, Barrett was given the role of Nurse Chapel. Like early episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Barrett donned a wig to dissociate herself from her previous role. She also went by the name "Majel Barrett" rather than "M. Leigh Hudec," as she had been credited in "The Cage".

Nurse Chapel appeared in 25 of the 79 original Star Trek episodes. Majel Barret also supplied the voice of the USS Enterprise's on-board computer.

Barrett and Roddenberry were married in August of 1969, two months after the final Star Trek episode was aired.

One of my favorite Star Trek episodes featuring Nurse Chapel is "The Naked Time", where a mysterious virus causes the crew to lose their inhibitions.

Afflicted by this illness, Nurse Chapel confesses her unrequited love for Mr. Spock... all while sporting a stunning sideswept, silver bouffant!

Check out the scene below:

images: (1) flickr.com
(2) acavill.com
(3) "The Naked Time" screen capture
(4) elevenfreakinthousand.com

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Anonymous William of Rutherford Mansfield said...

Another fabulous article Jason - I took the liberty of blogging and tweeting a link, hope that was in order! Bises du Mile-End.

10:03 am  
Blogger Jason Stockl said...

Much obliged, William!

10:19 am  
Anonymous Suzanna said...

I LOVE IT!!!!!!

1:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent Jason

The wealth of retro stuff you show us is incredible!

8:59 pm  
Anonymous Jason G said...

Another piece of trivia. I believe she is also the only actor/actress to have been involved in every iteration of Star Trek. She has been the voice of the computer on every series and movie. I am not sure about the newest film though, I haven't seen it.

4:45 pm  
Blogger Ailora Blue said...

I was searching Star Trek stuff and found your post. I loved Majel's Nurse Chapel. She was the most endearing character. Chapel was deeply layered and fascinating. And no matter what slash fans think, I will always maintain that Spock secretly loved Christine or at the very least, heavily entertained the idea of loving her.

The Naked Time was proof of it! The look of distaste on Spock's face at hearing Chapels declaration of love showed disgust for himself for not being able to control his responding feelings, NOT any disgust for her!

12:32 pm  

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