(written from a Production point of view)
Michael Joel Zaslow (1 November 1942 – 6 December 1998; age 56) was the actor who appeared as Darnell in the Star Trek: The Original Series first season episode "The Man Trap", after which he played Jordan in the second season episode "I, Mudd". His first Trek role, Darnell, was the first death ever seen on Star Trek. It was also for his death that Leonard McCoy almost first uttered his famous phrase, "He's dead, Jim." (What he actually said was "Dead, Jim"). Zaslow was also the godfather to Christian Slater, who made a cameo appearance in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Zaslow is perhaps best known for playing the villainous Roger Thorpe on the CBS soap Guiding Light for nearly twenty years, first from 1971 through 1980 and again from 1989 through 1997. He received four Daytime Emmy Award nominations for this role during the 1990s, winning the award with his third nomination in 1994. Zaslow has also starred in such soaps as Search for Tomorrow, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, and One Life to Live and was even a writer on NBC's Another World.
His additional television credits include guest appearances on Barnaby Jones (working with Jason Evers, Meg Foster, Lenore Kasdorf, and series regular Lee Meriwether), Lou Grant (in an episode directed by Alexander Singer and co-starring Phillip Richard Allen and Bill Quinn), Falcon Crest (working with Robert Foxworth and Fritz Weaver), Spenser: For Hire (starring Avery Brooks), and Law & Order. He had a recurring role on the latter series in 1997, during which time he worked with Jude Ciccolella and Keith Szarabajka.
Zaslow has only appeared in three feature films. His first was the 1977 romantic drama You Light Up My Life, in which he had a lead role. This was followed with a supporting role in the 1979 science fiction thriller Meteor, which co-starred Bibi Besch, Brian Keith, and Clyde Kusatsu. Zaslow's last credited film appearance was in the 1985 comic drama Seven Minutes in Heaven.
In addition to his film and television roles, Zaslow has performed on stage, including a number of Broadway productions. These include the original run of the musical Fiddler on the Roof and a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It was while working on Fiddler on the Roof that Zaslow met Susan Hufford, whom he would marry in 1975. They adopted two children together, Marika and Helena.
In 1997, while working on Guiding Light, Zaslow began to have difficulty speaking, which interfered with his performance. He was given leave from the show, after which he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). He never returned to Guiding Light, but he was offered the chance to reprise his 1980s role as David Renaldi in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, with his condition written into the storyline. He made several appearances on the show but became too ill to continue. His final episode aired on 1 December 1998, just five days before Zaslow succumbed to his disease.
After Zaslow's death, his widow and their adopted daughters founded ZazAngels to raise funds in order to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. Hufford also released a book about Zaslow and his fight with ALS, entitled Not That Man Anymore. Their daughter, Helena, died in 2004. Two years later, Zaslow's widow, Susan, lost her battle with cancer.