Lawrence Montaigne, a guest star and character actor on numerous TV shows throughout the 1960s and into the ’80s but likely to be remembered for appearances as a Romulan and a Vulcan on the original Star Trek, died Friday at 86. His death was reported by the official Star Trek twitter account.
Though his roles stretch back to an uncredited appearance in the 1953 Vincente Minnelli musical The Band Wagon, Montaigne’s career kicked into full gear in the 1960s. He played Haynes in Steve McQueen’s 1963 hit The Great Escape, then made guest appearances on TV series The Greatest Show on Earth, The Outer Limits, Combat, Burke’s Law, The Fugitive, Perry Mason, Hogan’s Heroes, Daktari, I Spy and The Time Tunnel. He played a robot in two 1967 Joker episodes of Batman.
He appeared in two episodes of Star Trek, first playing the Romulan Decius in the 1966 “Balance of Terror” episode and the Vulcan Stonn in 1967’s “Amok Time.”
Decades later, in a 2012 interview with StarTrek.com, Montaigne conceded that he didn’t much care for the second gig.
“It was just four or five lines, and I wasn’t very happy, but I did it,” he said. “I was uncomfortable because I had nothing to do. I was in almost every scene, but I had nothing to do. So, as an actor you’ve got to bite the bullet, and I did. Funny thing is, at the conventions, people come up to me and tell me how much they loved Stonn. I say, “What’s to love? The guy stood there and he glared.” For some reason, though, it was a character that people identified with.”
In the same interview, Montaigne said he’d been considered as a replacement for Leonard Nimoy if the latter left Star Trek for Mission: Impossible. “They called my agent and said, ‘We’re considering Lawrence to replace Leonard.’ They did the contracts and the whole thing, but there was a stipulation in the contract that said if Leonard comes back, then the whole thing is over. I was going on the assumption that I was going to play Spock when my agent called and said ‘Leonard is coming back to do the show. He’s in and you’re out.’”