Space and the Wild West. Both are Frontiers that are as beautiful as they are dangerous. It should come as no surprise that Star Trek and Death Valley Days ran simultaneously on television during the 1960’s, a time when the world was changing. The 1960’s were a time when people were looking ahead to the unknown future, but still looking to the past for action, adventure, and values. Many new, young actors were trying to make their mark in Hollywood at that time and that led to a crossover of actors between these two programs.
Better known as Star Trek’s “Mr.Spock”, Leonard Nimoy appeared in an episode of Death Valleys Days that aired on March 29, 1965. The episode was titled The Journey. Leonard Nimoy appeared as “Yellow Bear”, a Native American. In the storyline, two cavalry officers clash over their different attitudes about the treatment of their Native American prisoners.
Another Star Trek favorite also made an appearance on Death Valley Days in 1965. George Takei, Star Trek’s “Hikaru Sulu”, appeared in the episode The Book. George Takei portrayed “Wong Lee”, a young Chinese man who uses his special 1000-year-old book to help a miner win money at roulette — at least until greed takes over and brings unfortunate consequences for both men.
DeForest Kelley was no stranger to the Western frontier and had appeared in a variety of Western programs before his role on Star Trek as “Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy”. In the episode Lady of the Plains, which aired on May 5th, 1966, he played a gambler trying to win the heart of a society belle.
Grace Lee Whitney appeared on Death Valley Days both before and during her role as “Janice Rand” on Star Trek. She appeared in four different episodes airing from between 1962-1969. In Angel of Tombstone she played “Nellie”, a generous woman who runs a local restaurant. But gold fever takes hold of her when she learns that gold nuggets just lay on the ground in a remote area. In Tall Heart, Short Temper she is “Angela”. A woman who breaks off her engagement after her fiancé has had too many altercations with the townspeople. She also appeared in the episodes The Last Shot and The Quiet and the Fury.