R.I.P. Jack Donner of Star Trek and Mission: Impossible

By: H&I Staff     Posted: September 23, 2019, 11:46AM

On June 21, 1968, Jack Donner arrived at Desilu Stage 9 to film his scenes for a third-season episode of Star Trek. While it was his first appearance on the show, he was certainly familiar with the studio lot and some of the stars. He had done a couple of Mission: Impossible episodes on the lot. More importantly, he knew Leonard Nimoy and Walter Koenig personally.

"We knew each other prior to the beginning of Star Trek. So it was like a reunion going to the set," he told Trek Today in a 2004 interview. Donner had done some plays with Nimoy. Koenig he knew from his own theater, the Oxford, which he co-founded and co-directed with Lee Delano. Koenig and Delano were friends.

So, when Donner slipped into costume to play the Romulan Subcommander Tal in "The Enterprise Incident," he was in familiar company. Donner appeared in just that one episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, but he does hold a rare distinction amongst Trek actors. He is one of only five actors to appear on both The Original Series and Star Trek: Enterprise. On the latter, he turned up twice as a Vulcan in "Home" and "Kir'Shana."

Donner's path between those two Trek series is quite interesting. After "The Enterprise Incident," he returned to Desilu several more times to film Mission: Impossible episodes. In fact, he holds the record for most guest appearances on that classic spy series with 11 episodes.

We mentioned his theater, the Oxford. As an acting instructor, he taught Barry Levinson, Craig T. Nelson, Barbara Perkins and Don Johnson.

In 1976, Donner became ill and was forced to sell the theater. After recuperating, he returned to school and became a licensed psychotherapist. That would explain the large gap in his IMDb credits. In the 1990s, the acting bug once again bit Donner, and he continued to take small roles on everything from Frasier to The District.

On September 21, Donner passed away, according to the Star Trek fan database Memory Alpha. He was 90 years old.

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