In 2269, Rad was a follower of Dr. Sevrin, in his search for the planet Eden. He and his companions had stolen the Aurora in an attempt to find the planet. The vessel was damaged and, moments before it exploded, he and the others were beamed to safety by the USS Enterprise.
After Dr. Sevrin was arrested and confined to the brig, Rad and another follower released him, fled the ship and found Eden. The planet turned out to be deadly, with poisonous fruit and acid ground. Rad was again rescued by the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Way to Eden")
Tongo Rad was played by Victor Brandt. Originally, the fact that he was working for his father, who was a film producer at Paramount, brought Brandt into contact with several production staffers from Star Trek. Because Brandt's father had an office down the hall from the Star Trek offices, Brandt came to be familiar with Star Trek: The Original Series Story Consultant Arthur Singer as well as TOS Producers Robert Justman and Herbert Solow, as he often noticed them in the hall. "They saw me walking down one day and they said, 'Victor. Victor. What about Victor? He’d be good for the boy,'" Brandt recounted. "They called me in [and] said, 'Victor, we want you to read for this part. He’s a hippie.' I said, 'Well, I have to go. I need to work.' They told me, 'That can wait. Take this script and sit down.' I said, 'Can I go outside and study it?' They laughed and said, 'Sure.' I went outside and came back in and read for the role [....] The next thing I knew, I got it." It may have helped that David Alexander, the director of "The Way to Eden", was, in Brandt's words, "an old friend of my family from the New York stage days in the 1930s and 1940s."
In the original script for "The Way to Eden", this character was named Ton Rad. It was only in subsequent revisions of the episode's teleplay that the suffix "-go" was added to the character's first name.
Although he was delighted to portray Tongo Rad, Victor Brandt also had to adjust to wearing a lot of makeup for the role. "I had to get there at 4 in the morning to get made up," he recalled. "They had to pull a skullcap on and all of that stuff. I remember going to the commissary to have lunch and I got a lot of catcalls for my purple and silver hair. They’d made me a wig, and it was [Michael] Westmore’s son who was the makeup artist. It took almost two hours to put everything on, including the grapes on my forehead and the tattoo, which I grew into." The biggest challenge Brandt, who does not play drums, had with the part was having to learn to play the bongos. As a result, his hand movements in the installment do not match the audio of the drumbeat.
Due to having been in a series with such cultural significance as Star Trek, Brandt thought it likely that his gravestone "will say, 'Here lies Victor Brandt, who played Tongo Rad.'"