After studying law at the University, most people end up in law firms and chambers but this was not the case of Majel Barrett. She swapped the suits and ties to become one of the legends of Hollywood. She was probably most known for her role as the voice of the computers in nearly every Star Trek television spinoff series from the 1960s to present time.
Majel was also the wife of the famous Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and was extremely instrumental in the Star Trek series. Even after becoming a widow, she never threw in the towel. She works tirelessly to see to the success of every Star Trek series. Who is Majel Barrett? Is she still alive? Read on to find out.
Majel Barrett – Biography
Majel Barrett was born Majel Leigh Hudec on February 23, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Shaker Heights High School, graduating in 1950, before going on to the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida where she studied law. She started attending acting workshops at age 10 and continued the interest at Shaker Heights High School. After completing a year in law school, she failed in a contract law class. It then dawned on her that she wasn’t quite cut out for the legal profession.
Barrett’s acting career started when she finally moved to New York. She participated in several stage shows and programs and joined the Broadway stage play Solid Gold Cadillac, touring around the United States. She started appearing in films in the 1950s and she started out with minor roles. Majel Barrett made a brief appearance in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and subsequently, she was seen in Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961), Sylvia (1965), among others.
In 1961, Majel Barrett came in contact with Gene Roddenberry, an American TV series producer. She got a role in The Lieutenant, a TV series produced by Gene in 1963. It didn’t take long before their business relationship metamorphosed into a romantic one.
Majel was not a big star at the time she got a major role to play Number One, the unnamed first officer of USS Enterprise in the pilot show of the Star Trek series, The Cage. This favor received by Majel from her lover didn’t go down well with the management of NBC who were of the view that the role should be given to a man instead. They also felt Barrett got the lead role only because she was the girlfriend of the producer, Gene Roddenberry. They unanimously rejected the pilot episode and asked Roddenberry to come up with another pilot.
The second pilot episode of Star Trek was titled Where No Man Has Gone Before. In this, the character “Number One” was dropped to appease the management of NBC. Nevertheless, Majel Barrett changed her last name from Hudec to Barrett and wore a blonde wig for the role of nurse Christine Chapel, a character that was frequently recurring, known for her emotional attachment to the main character Spock. Barrett continued to remain a part of every release of Star Trek, whether a televised or motion picture.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in 1979. It was based on the TV series. Barrett played the role of a doctor in the movie which saw her character Christine Chapel upgraded from a nurse to a doctor.
Other Facts You Need To Know About Majel Barrett
Not much is known about Barrett’s family. No information relates to her mother and siblings. However, her father, William Hudec, was a Cleveland police officer. He died in the line of duty on August 30, 1955, while Barrett was touring with an off-Broadway road company.
Getting involved with Gene Roddenberry was the turning point in Barrett’s life and career. Their casual friendship grew into a love affair and culminated in marriage. This ultimately led to Barrett being an integral part of the Star Trek series.
Majel Barrett married Gene Roddenberry after courting for years. Gene’s first marriage was at the verge of hitting the rocks when he met Majel. Within a short space of time, he divorced his first wife and married Majel on August 6, 1969, in Japan. The union saw to the birth of Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry.
Gene Roddenberry died in 1991, leaving his estate to Majel. She went through his ideas, which were left in her possession, to create two science-fiction series, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda.
Barrett died on the morning of December 18, 2008, at her home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, as a result of leukemia. Prior to her death, Majel formed a company, Celestial Inc. to launch the remains of her husband’s body into space. However, the mission has not yet been accomplished. Now that she is dead too, the company plans to launch the remains of both Gene and Majel into space.
Majel Barrett while alive, built a huge financial empire, thanks to her legendary status in Hollywood. Her empire is said to be worth millions of dollars. There is no exact estimate of her net worth, however, it was said to be estimated at over $60 million.