Star Trek: The Original Series' Eddie Paskey was more than just a background character

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Eddie Paskey, who passed away in 2021, was only credited one time as a particular character on Star Trek: The Original Series even though he appeared in 57 episodes over the course of three seasons (more than Walter Koenig and George Takei) and often portrayed Lt. Leslie. His background story has been addressed in follow-up Star Trek comics, according to Slashfilm, but he wasn't given a story onscreen. His purpose was a background character and William Shatner's double and stand-in, but his time onscreen gave him more.

Paskey had appeared in several episodes of The Original Series' season one before Captain Kirk finally addressed him by name, calling him "Mr. Leslie." And that name wasn't just something one of the writers pulled out of a hat. It was an homage to one of Shatner's daughters, Leslie. And it was through the course of the episodes, even though he wasn't a main star, that he became a friend of Shatner's as he mentioned in a 2016 interview.

""I was very fortunate because any time they could use us to fill the frame, they did. It was fun. I enjoyed what I was doing every day and was very lucky because I became a friend of William Shatner — I was his double and stand-in, and that was a fun deal. The character was called Lieutenant Leslie, but of course Bill called me Mister Leslie. I was named after his eldest daughter."

Eddie Paskey

Unfortunately, back pain and cluster headaches that were made worse by the set lighting forced Paskey to leave Star Trek before the series ended. He did, however, consider auditioning for Star Trek: The Motion Picture but changed his mind. It would have been great, though, to have seen Lt. Leslie, perhaps a commander by then, show up in some of the later Star Trek movies. Fans still appreciated his commitment to the series, and he was always welcomed at Star Trek conventions.

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