Remembering Lawrence Montaigne, 1931-2017
StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Lawrence Montaigne, the veteran actor who played the Romulan, Decius, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror" in 1966 and returned a year later to portray Stonn, a Vulcan, in "Amok Time." The actor died on Friday, March 17, at the age of 86.
According to the biography on Montaigne's official site, he was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Rome, Italy, and developed an early talent for languages, which opened many doors for him as an actor. Trained as a classical dancer, he appeared on Broadway in Hazel Flagg and Shinbone Alley (with Eartha Kitt). He was eventually lured to Hollywood, where he worked with the Hollywood Bowl Ballet Company. In films, he worked as a dancer with such notables as Gene Kelly, Donald O'Conner and Mitzie Gaynor. He studied fencing both in the U.S. and Europe, which afforded him the opportunity to work as a stuntman on Scaramouche, The Three Musketeers, Julius Caesar and in a series of low-budget, swashbuckling films for Sam Katzman at Columbia.
Upon discharge from the Marine Corp, Montaigne's bio continued, he studied drama at The Dramatic Workshop in New York, and was prepared to make the transition into acting when the opportunity arose. He was featured in such films as The Great Escape (with Steve McQueen and James Garner), Tubruk (with Rock Hudson and George Peppard) and The Power (with George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette), and later in Captain Sinbad and Damon & Pythias (both starring Guy Williams), The Mongols (starring Jack Palance and Anita Ekberg) and Escape To Witch Mountain (with Ray Milland and Donald Pleasance.) He starred in Pillar Of Fire (made in Israel), and in Moby Jackson and Rapina Al Quartiere Ovest (both made in Italy.) He worked, over the course of his career, in Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia, Israel, Spain and the U.S.
In addition to his film credits, Montaigne, by his own count, appeared in more than 200 episodes of television, including The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, I Spy, The Time Tunnel, Batman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible and Dallas. According to various sources, including Montaigne himself, the producers of TOS were ready to tap him to replace Leonard Nimoy as Spock when negotiations with with Nimoy seemed unlikely to pan out; they did, however, and Montaigne was invited to play Stonn.
Montaigne, during an extensive interview with StarTrek.com in 2012, said said he and Nimoy never discussed the matter on set or later. "It was history," he explained. "It was over and that’s all there was to it. I moved on. This was the 1960s, and I was doing a whole bunch of shows and films, and having the time of my life. So, when Spock didn’t happen, it really didn’t change my life in any way."
It was history. It was over and that’s all there was to it. I moved on. This was the 1960s, and I was doing a whole bunch of shows and films, and having the time of my life. So, when Spock didn’t happen, it really didn’t change my life in any way. - See more at: http://www.startrek.com/article/catching-up-with-tos-guest-star-lawrence-montaigne#sthash.hADv6Dr5.dpuf
Forty-plus years after his TOS roles, Montaigne reprised Stonn in the fan film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, directed by Tim Russ. In addition to his work as an actor and stuntman, he wrote an autobiography, A Vulcan Odyssey, and two novels, The Guardian List and The Barrel of Death. Further, his bio states, he was employed as a proofreader doing medical translations for Worldwide Translations, and taught drama part-time at UNLV, near where he lived in Henderson, Nevada.
As recently as last August, Montaigne was a regular presence at the annual Star Trek Las Vegas gathering. Back in 2012, in our StarTrek.com interview, the actor explained that even so many years after "Balance of Terror" and "Amok Time," he still enjoyed meeting fans, signing autographs, posing for photos and reminiscing.
"I love it," he said. "I’m out of touch. I’m living in Vegas, not in Los Angeles. I’m not in the hub of things. So, when I’m in Vegas, not only do I enjoy seeing the fans, but I have the opportunity to see people I’ve worked with, people I’ve known for years, people I don’t otherwise have an opportunity to see on a social basis because of geography. The fans are so great. Some of the fans come back year in and year out, so we’re on a first-name basis. We’ll talk about the things they’ve done in the past year and, likewise, I’ll talk about what I’ve done. So, it’s a lot of fun. I can’t imagine an actor who’s worked on Star Trek not wanting to get involved and do these conventions."
Please join StarTrek.com in extending our condolences to Montaigne's family, friends, colleagues and fans around the world.