(written from a Production point of view)
Actress Bibi Besch (1 February 1940 – 7 September 1996; age 56) is best known to Star Trek fans for playing the role of Doctor Carol Marcus in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She also narrated the audio release of the Michael Jan Friedman novel Faces of Fire.
Born in Vienna, which was then annexed to Nazi Germany, as Bibiana Maria Köchert, she immigrated with her family to the United States after World War II. A thirty-year veteran of television and feature films under her stage name Bibi (short for Bibiana) Besch, she got her television start in 1966 on the soap opera The Secret Storm, on which she spent one season. Star Trek actors John Colicos, Laurence Luckinbill, and Diana Muldaur were also part of that show's cast at one time or another.
Besch went on to have brief stints on three other long-running TV soap operas, The Edge of Night (1969-1970), Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1971-1973), and Somerset (1973-1976). All of these programs also featured several other Star Trek alumni.
Besch worked with her Wrath of Khan co-star Paul Winfield twice before that film went into production. First, in 1979, they co-starred together in the 1979 TV miniseries Backstairs at the White House. This series also featured Robert Hooks, Noble Willingham, and Bill Quinn. Then in 1981, she and Winfield co-starred in the TV movie The Sophisticated Gents, which also featured Robert Hooks as well as Bernie Casey and Alfre Woodard.
Initially, Besch found the exclusion of Carol Marcus from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock very difficult to accept. So upset that she cried, Besch at first suspected the omission was actually a rejection of her acting talent, carried out because she had done something wrong. After the film was released, however, she sent a letter of acknowledgment to Executive Producer Harve Bennett, who later recalled of the message, "It said, 'I've seen the picture. Now I understand. You were right. I hope you can find a place for me in one of the other films.'" (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 46)
Besch received one Emmy nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actress for the TV special Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992, co-starring with James B. Sikking and Jayne Brook), and another in 1993 for a guest appearance on Northern Exposure. She also had a role on the 1991 TV movie Crazy from the Heart, which also featured Brent Spiner in an uncredited cameo. In 1993, Besch guested on the crime/legal drama Law & Order, starring Carolyn McCormick, in the cult-themed "Apocrypha" directed by Gabrielle Beaumont, joining Tim Kelleher, Lawrence Pressman, and Ted Sorel. Besch also guest starred in The Golden Girls episode "Sick and Tired" about chronic fatigue syndrome.
In addition to her role on Star Trek II, she had notable roles in other feature films, including Who's That Girl? (1987, also featuring Mike Starr and Roy Brocksmith), Steel Magnolias (1989, also featuring Nancy Parsons and Tom Hodges), and Tremors (1990). She also had a supporting role in the 1990 comedy Betsy's Wedding, as did Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest actress Camille Saviola.
Besch succumbed to metastatic breast cancer on September 7th, 1996, one day before Star Trek's 30th anniversary.