Happy birthday Walter Koenig!

Walter Koenig in 2013
Walter Koenig in 2013

Walter Marvin Koenig (photo ©Gage Skidmore) was born on September 14, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Walter Koenig earned a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA but following the encouragement of a professor decided to become an actor and attended the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York. Koenig started working in television with roles in various TV shows and in 1964 he had his first role in show a produced by Gene Roddenberry, “The Lieutenant”.

In 1965, Walter Koenig married Judy Levitt, who is also an actress, and the two of them had their son Andrew in 1968 and their daughter Danielle in 1973.

There were only two persons at the audition for the role of Pavel Chekov in “Star Trek” and Walter Koenig was chosen very quickly especially for his resemblance to the actor / musician Davy Jones. The producer Gene Roddenberry hoped to attract more young people to watch the show and the character, who was originally supposed to be recurring, ended up becoming a regular due to the success he had among kids.

After the end of “Star Trek” Walter Koenig passed a difficult period when work was scarce. At that point the actor had a young son so he decided to do something and started writing screenplays and also worked as in stage plays. He was the only actor in the “Star Trek” cast not to lend his voice to the animated series produced in 1973 for budgetary reasons but he wrote the screenplay for one of the episodes.

After some years of ups and downs, the production of “Star Trek” movies brought Walter Koenig new satisfactions and new fame. The actor participated in all of the movies involving the original series crew. Over the years, the actor also lent his voice to several video games linked to the saga.

In 1993, Walter Koenig underwent surgery to implant a cardiac bypass. After returning to health, the actor started playing the other character he’s famous for, the Psi Cop Alfred Bester in the TV show “Babylon 5“. The character’s name is an homage to the science fiction writer, one of the show’s sources of inspiration. Bester only appears in 12 episodes but his development and Walter Koenig’s performance made him memorable.

In recent years, Walter Koenig alternated his roles as an actor in various TV productions to that as a writer and in some cases also as a producer. He participated in various ways to some unofficial productions related to “Star Trek” and to “Renegade”, derived from one of them. Besides all that, he also worked as a teacher of acting and directing.

Walter Koenig’s career in the life of have been strongly influenced by his participation in the classic Star Trek series. It turned out to be a long-term fortune thanks to the saga’s growing fame. The actor took advantage of that to do other things but he’s still best known as Chekov.

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