Maggie Thrett, the actress and singer who most memorably played Ruth in the “Mudd’s Women” episode of the original Star Trek, died December 18, her family announced. She was 76.
“Mudd’s Women” is one of the most memorable episodes of the 1960s Star Trek, in no small part because it featured three stunningly beautiful women (Thrett, Karen Steele and Susan Denberg) who seem to have strange powers over the male members of the Enterprise crew — except Spock, of course.
The women are en route to a mining colony where they are to become wives for the wealthy but lonely men who mine precious dilithium crystals. Their secret is that they are made both beautiful and irresistible by taking a so-called “Venus” drug given to them by one of the series’ most memorable rascals, Harry Mudd (Roger Carmel).
Ironically, though Carmel was her neighbor, Thrett had to audition for the role. She had no idea what the show actually was.
“I am shocked that years later I am best known for doing this episode,” she told author Tom Lisanti in 2017. “I am forever in TV history. At least it was not bad so I am not embarrassed by it. Some company contacted me to sell my autograph on these Star Trek cards. They pay me to and they resell at these Star Trek conventions. I was invited once but it didn’t work out.”
Speaking of pay, Thrett told Lisanti she had to fight for her pay from the show.
“I remember we hit Golden Overtime that day [of filming]. We were there from about 4 in the morning to about 9 or 10 at night. You are passed regular overtime and are into triple overtime. They didn’t want to pay,” said Thrett. “I had to fight for it through the Screen Actors Guild. They don’t like when you do that and hurts your chances to be on the show again. I got my money and no surprise was never invited back. Years later I got a letter from Gene Roddenberry to forfeit my residuals and to donate them to his charity. I declined.”
Thrett, who was born Diane Pine in 1946, appeared on a number of big-name series of the period, including The Wild, Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie and McCloud. She also co-starred opposite Christopher Jones, Yvette Mimieux and Judy Pace in the 1968 comedy Three In the Attic, which became the top grosser that year on American International Pictures’ slate. The film and Thrett made a brief appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as a TV ad for the movie plays on TV in the background during one scene.
As a singer, she had a minor hit with her single “Soupy,” which was produced by Bob Crewe, who was the one who convinced her to change her name. The song is an appropriately — for 1965 — groovy and high-energy arrangement with lots of horns. You can listen to it below.
In May 1970, Thrett was involved in a road accident while a passenger on Gram Parsons’ motorcycle. Although she was apparently unharmed (Parsons suffered significant injuries), soon after this, Thrett turned her back on the entertainment business.
Her nephew, ironically named Chris Pine, wrote earlier this week, “She left Hollywood, and originally I was told it was because “she didn’t make it” but later, I learned that she had become disenchanted by the industry and how it treated women. She kept a lot of that to herself, only opening up about her own experiences when she was much older and finally able to enjoy some of the perks that came with being on Star Trek.”
She even changed her mind about conventions, according to signing convention agent Scott Ray.
“In the last five years of her life, Maggie did two convention appearances,” Ray wrote. “She was amazed seeing how her career had endured…and making new fans that weren’t even alive when she did it [Star Trek].”
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