Star Trek 45th Anniversary: A Lookback with Grace Lee Whitney
Actress Grace Lee Whitney became best known for the being the happening beehive hairdo, red short dress and go-go boot wearing Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. Whitney speaks about her tumultuous times before, during and after her voyage on the Starship Enterprise and how the faith that she found saved her life.
Grace Lee Whitney was born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was raised by her adoptive parents.
“When I was 7 years old, I was told that I was an adoptive child and my parents did not belong to me,” Whitney recalled, “I was told I belong to another person who gave them to me and that they were grateful to have me.”
Although her parents did everything they could to assure her, Whitney, looking back on her childhood, remembered that it was natural for her mind to wander towards the negative side of the equation. Unfortunately, this is the time that a pattern would begin to establish in Whitney’s mode of thinking that would span for decades to come.
Whitney’s desire to be in front of an audience started when she was still a child, she sang and danced in various shows at her school. She also excelled in gymnastics.
“I started on WJR radio in Michigan where I grew up.”
Whitney began her career in radio at the age of 13 and performed with a juvenile chorus until the age of 17. During all of this, Whitney was not without her negativity. She still had troubles coping with the rejection of her biological mother and was lacking the understanding as to why. For Whitney drama ensued.
“I was in love with a man who got another lady pregnant when I was 15. So not only did my mother give me up, my boyfriend cheated on me and got her pregnant. In those days a man had to marry the woman he got pregnant.”
The desire that Whitney had to get away from all of the heartbreak gave her incentive to go where she could try to alleviate the pain and at the same excel in show business.
“I left Detroit when I turned 18 to go to Chicago. In Detroit the legal drinking age was 21, and in Chicago it was 18. I wanted to get out of the emotional pain of the breakup, the emotional pain of being rejected by mother and not feeling good enough.”
Whitney was very human in her desire to get out from under her emotional and mental pain. Unfortunately, she did not yet know how to do that outside of her extreme alcohol abuse.Continued on the next page