StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of veteran stuntman/stunt coordinator Leon Rusty McClennon, known professionally as Rusty McClennon, who died in late May, though news of his passing has only now been revealed, with a memorial service set for June 20. His dozens of credits included I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Predator 2, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Jingle All the Way, Gone in Sixty Seconds and Training Day, as well as several seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Generations, for which he served, uncredited, as Michael Dorn's stunt double for action/stunt scenes involving Worf. His age, date of death and cause of death have not yet been made public.
StarTrek.com reached out to Dorn, who shared his memories of McClennon, and also recounted his favorite McClennon anecdote.
"Now, I have to tell you a funny story," Dorn said. "They'd run two or three stunt guys in and out, and you'd always see them in the makeup trailer getting more makeup applied. These were black guys. They'd say, 'Oh, I'm going to be doubling you,' and I'd say, 'Oh, that's great,' and we'd go on about our business. If you'd ever seen Rusty, he was very light-skinned -- really light-skinned. So I walked in the trailer the first time Rusty was working, and they said, 'Oh, Michael, here is your stunt guy, Rusty.' They had the head on him already and the head was very dark. So I'm looking at this and it looks like a white guy is getting made up as Worf. Now, I'm a child of the 60s. Black Power, and all that stuff. So I've always had this thing about there being a lot of black stunt guys around, and it may take a couple of more minutes, maybe a half-hour, just to call and find that stunt guy. Sometimes they don't do it. This had never happened to me, where they'll paint up a white guy to double a black guy. That, to me, is like putting a guy in black face.
Dorn jumped on the phone and called the producers, with Frakes standing right there next to him. He pointed out that there was a caucasian man getting made up to double him. He noted that there are actually African American stuntmen out there. Dorn knew several of them. They'd doubled him before.
"I basically said, 'This can't happen,'" Dorn said, picking up the story. "The producers were like, 'Michael, we'd never do that. We don't think that's really what's happening. If it's true, we're going to get on it.' When I got off the phone, the first assistant director, who was a black woman and must have known what was going on, said, 'Michael, he's OK.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' She said, 'He's one of us.' I said, 'Really?' And that was the story. Johnny (Frakes) and I still laugh about it, because he was just as upset as I was. Later, Rusty told me that he could see the look on my face when we first met. He said, 'Man, I knew what you were thinking.' I said, 'Oh, yeah?' He said, 'Oh, yeah, I saw that look on your face.' But I liked Rusty a lot. We had a good time and he did a really good job."
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