StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of veteran character actor and Star Trek: The Original Series guest star Jason Wingreen, who died at his home in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, with the news only now being confirmed by his son via The Hollywood Reporter. Wingreen, who was 95 years old, played Dr. Linke in “The Empath.”
Wingreen’s career spanned from 1955 to 1994 and included dozens and dozens of memorable roles in films and television shows. Among his credits: Playhouse 90, The Untouchables,The Outer Limits, Get Smart, The Fugitive, The Dunwich Horror, Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Ironside, Happy Days, Kojak, Airplane, Highway to Heaven, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night and Seinfeld. He’s best known, though, for his three appearances on The Twilight Zone, a longtime recurring role as bartender Harry Snowden on All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place, for voicing Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and his Star Trek role.
Though he'd retired from acting after his guest shots on Seinfeld and In the Heat of the Night, Wingreen continued to make appearances at conventions and autograph shows for many, many years. StarTrek.com interviewed Wingreen in April of 2014 timed to an upcoming signing at the Hollywood Show. Referring to the fact that Trek fans, nearly five decades after the fact, still sought his signature and sent him fan mail, Wingreen said, "It’s beyond belief. I take it as a compliment. I take it as it comes. I’m used to the letters, to signing the autographs. Star Trek has never been in my life the way Star Wars was. Star Wars really changed things for me. But Star Trek, I remember, was not an audition. My agent submitted my name and I was given the job. I have no real memory of shooting the episode. I’m sorry about that. I know there were two of us, but the name of the other person (Davis Roberts) escapes me."
Wingreen, however, remembered that Dr. Linke died a painful death. "I have the photos of me in that position when I was struck," he told StarTrek.com. "That was the best bit in the episode for me, my dying. I do have a faulty memory now. I’m losing names now, the names of people I worked with. Words that have always been easy for me, I no longer can remember them. If I’m writing to somebody I will sometimes go to a dictionary to make sure my spelling is correct. I’ve never had to do that before. It’s happening to me because I’m 93. It’s what comes with age. So it’s interesting to me that people remember more about me doing Star Trek than I remember. For me, it was just one day of work. Really, it was just one day. It was a one-day job, and I had hundreds of one-day jobs. I had a good career out here."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wingreen is survived by his son Ned, two grandchildren and his sister, Harriet Wingreen. Please join StarTrek.com in offering our condolences to Wingreen's family, friends, colleagues and fans.