Remembering Olaf Pooley, 1914-2015
StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Olaf Pooley, who died on Tuesday at the age of 101. The Brit was a veteran stage, film and television actor -- not to mention a writer, director and painter -- who guest starred as the Cleric in the Voyager episode "Blink of an Eye," which was directed by his then-wife, Gabrielle Beaumont. At the time of his death, Pooley was both Star Trek and Doctor Who's oldest-living actor. His family confirmed to to StarTrek.com that Pooley succumbed to congestive heart failure. He passed "peacefully," they said, and he "managed to preserve his independence and dignity to the end, which is what he wanted."
StarTrek.com had the good fortune to interview Pooley extensively for a piece that ran just last month. Click HERE to read it. Discussing the fact that he'd just turned 101, Pooley said, "Well it’s rather an extraordinary thing. I got the giggles when I realized I was going to turn a 100. I just couldn’t believe it; it seemed so weird and almost if someone else was experiencing it for me… I just felt it couldn’t really be me – could it? And as for turning 101, it’s kind of more of the same. Obviously, as you can imagine there are the awful frustrations of growing old. Forgetfulness is one of the main annoyances. Luckily my mind is still good and sharp, apart from the short term memory, but alas my body seems to be giving out a bit. I used to be able to walk quite a distance, but now my legs are much weaker, so that limits my independence quite a lot."
Looking back on his experience on Voyager, Pooley told StarTrek.com that there was a bit of him in the Cleric. He appreciated the of a character who is a teacher and a "wise man" providing direction and advice. "The Cleric is obviously didactic by nature, but at the same time he is quite prepared to confront conventional wisdom and question what people might normally accept. However, there is some dichotomy here, because he does not like the idea of the fire fruit being abused… so, I guess like the rest of us, he picks and chooses what he chooses to believe in. Perhaps one of the tests for a character is to ask yourself, 'Would I be interested to sit down with this person and have a conversation? Might I learn something?' I think, in the case of the Cleric, the answer has to be 'Yes.'”
Pooley is survived by his two children, Seyton and Kirstie, and four grandchildren. Please join StarTrek.com in offering our condolences to Pooley's family, friends and fans around the world.