Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

Walter Koenig (born 14 September 1936; age 87) is the actor and writer best known for playing Pavel Chekov on Star Trek: The Original Series and in the first seven Star Trek movies. He was the only original cast member not to lend his voice to Star Trek: The Animated Series due to budgetary reasons, though he still contributed to the series by writing the episode "The Infinite Vulcan". His image also appeared in Star Trek Beyond, in a photograph that was among Spock's possessions bequeathed to his alternate reality counterpart.

Personal life[]

Walter Koenig (pronounced "KAY-nig") was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Sarah and Isadore Koenig. His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Republic of Lithuania (independent at the time of his birth). Walter first started acting while attending Fieldston High School in Riverdale, New York, where he played the lead roles in stage productions of Peer Gynt and George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple.

After graduating from Fieldston, Koenig attended Grinnell College in Iowa with a pre-med major. He later transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. After receiving his BA, however, a professor encouraged him to pursue an acting career. Koenig then enrolled in New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, where he received a scholarship from the school's regents. His classmates at the Neighborhood Playhouse included Christopher Lloyd, who later worked with Koenig on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. [1]

Koenig married actress Judy Levitt on 11 July 1965. They have two children together, Andrew and Danielle. Andrew Koenig appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Sanctuary" as Tumak, while Judy Levitt appeared in bit parts in several Star Trek films. Danielle is one of the writers for the Nickelodeon cartoon Invader Zim, which contains a few Star Trek references in honor of her father.

On 14 February 2010, Andrew Koenig went missing while visiting friends in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was scheduled to return to the United States on 16 February, but he did not board his flight. [2] On the 16th, Walter stated that he and his wife received a note from Andrew in which he "sounded despondent." [3] Walter and his wife flew to Vancouver on 23 February to participate in the search for their son. [4] On 25 February, Andrew's body was found by friends in a densely-wooded area of Vancouver's Stanley Park. Walter announced in a subsequent press release that his son had taken his own life. [5]

Early career[]

Koenig appeared in two films in the early 1960s, The Norman Vincent Peale Story and Strange Lovers. In 1963, he made an appearance in the premiere episode of the long-running daytime soap opera General Hospital. The following year, he guest-starred on the short-lived drama series The Lieutenant. This series starred Gary Lockwood and was created and produced by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. On the show, Koenig was directed by Vincent McEveety, who later directed Koenig in several episodes of Star Trek. Koenig's fellow guest stars included Paul Comi and Paul Lambert.

Other television shows on which Koenig appeared throughout the 1960s include Combat! (acting with Star Trek Generations cinematographer John A. Alonzo), 'The Untouchables (with Paul Sorensen), The Great Adventure (with Arthur Batanides and Gene Lyons), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (directed by Joseph Pevney), and Ben Casey (directed by John Meredyth Lucas). In addition, Koenig was directed by Michael O'Herlihy in two episodes of Mr. Novak and an episode of Mannix (working with Louise Sorel). An episode of Gidget in which Koenig appeared (with Brooke Bundy) was scripted by Stephen Kandel.

Star Trek[]

Koenig was cast as Pavel Chekov for the second season on Star Trek: The Original Series in 1967. The producers specifically brought in the youthful Koenig to draw younger viewers to the show. The original plan was to create a young, British character in the vein of The Beatles and the current success of their "American counterparts", The Monkees. Later, Gene Roddenberry decided the character should be Russian, in response to an alleged article in the leading Soviet newspaper, Pravda. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story; These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two)

Koenig was recommended for the role by director Joseph Pevney, who noted that he "had the worst fake Russian accent I ever heard". The actor, 30 at the time, played the 22-year-old Ensign. To augment the ploy, they made him look like Davy Jones from the The Monkees. Reportedly, the ploy worked. [6] Koenig originally had to wear a Davy Jones-style wig until his own hair grew out. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story; These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two)

During later in the season, Koenig often had to fill in for George Takei, who was delayed filming The Green Berets. When Takei finally returned to the show later that season, he was required to share his dressing room and even episode scripts with Koenig, a situation Takei did not like. (William Shatner's Star Trek Memories) This circumstance was later referenced in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," in which Koenig and Takei were forced to share a copy of Melllvar's fan-written script. Koenig and Takei have since become close friends.

Koenig appeared in thirty-six episodes of Star Trek between 1967 and 1969, beginning with "Catspaw" (although his first aired episode was "Amok Time"). His first filming day on the series was Tuesday, 2 May 1967. Archive footage from his work in the second season episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" was used in the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". He reprised his role as Chekov in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and continued playing the character in the next six feature films. He was nominated for Saturn Awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his work on two of these films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Several uniforms and costumes worn by Koenig during his time working on the Star Trek films were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including a red undershirt. [7]

His last canon appearance as Chekov was in the 1994 film Star Trek Generations, but he did play the character in several non-canon productions. He appeared as Chekov in the short film created for the theme park attraction Star Trek Adventure, and he also voiced the character in the video games Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Star Trek: Judgment Rites, Star Trek Generations (based on the film), Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, and Star Trek: Shattered Universe.

In 1996, Koenig visited the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine set during the filming of "Trials and Tribble-ations" and taught Colm Meaney how to use the original Star Trek communicator. (The Making of Star Trek Deep Space Nine Trials And Tribble-ations)

In 2006, he played Chekov (as a lieutenant) in the fan production Star Trek: New Voyages, which was conceived and produced by James Cawley. Koenig guest-starred in the episode "To Serve All My Days," alongside Cawley, Mary-Linda Rapelye, John Carrigan, Jeffery Quinn, and Larry Nemecek. The episode was written by D.C. Fontana, Ethan H. Calk, and Jack Treviño.

Koenig again played Chekov, this time with the rank of captain, in the independent movie Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, in which he starred opposite fellow Original Series co-star Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and Star Trek Generations actor Alan Ruck as Captain John Harriman. The movie was directed by Star Trek: Voyager's Tim Russ, who also appeared in his role as Tuvok. The movie featured many other Star Trek veterans in the cast, including Gary Graham, J.G. Hertzler, Cirroc Lofton, Chase Masterson, Arlene Martel, Lawrence Montaigne, Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang, and Grace Lee Whitney.

Koenig has written two books describing his experiences working on Star Trek: Chekov's Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek - The Motion Picture, published in 1980, and Warped Factors, published in 1998. He has also participated in a number of Star Trek-related specials and documentaries, including William Shatner's Star Trek Memories, Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special, Trekkies, and How William Shatner Changed the World.

Other works[]


After Star Trek was canceled in 1969, Koenig made guest appearances on such television series as Medical Center (acting with Rudy Solari), The Virginian (with Brock Peters), and Ironside (with Theodore Bikel). He also had a supporting role in the Emmy Award-nominated TV movie Goodbye, Raggedy Ann, working alongside John Colicos. In 1973, Koenig appeared in the film Nightmare Honeymoon, which also featured John Beck, David Huddleston, Roy Jenson, and Jay Robinson. That same year, he played the alien Oro in two episodes of Harlan Ellison's The Starlost, including one episode directed by Joseph L. Scanlan.

In 1973, he wrote an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, entitled (TAS: "The Infinite Vulcan"). The following year, Koenig wrote an episode of Land of the Lost. Said episode, "The Stranger", introduced the character of Enik the Altrusian. (Koenig had initially named the character Eneg – "Gene" spelled backwards – as an inside reference to his old friend Gene Roddenberry.)

Before 1974 had passed, Koenig appeared in the unsold TV pilot movie The Questor Tapes, written by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon. The pilot was directed by Richard Colla and starred Robert Foxworth in the title role. Koenig's Original Series co-star Majel Barrett also had a role in the movie. In 1976, Koenig reunited with Original Series co-star William Shatner in the Columbo movie Fade in to Murder, which also featured Bert Remsen. Koenig subsequently wrote an episode of the drama series Family, which ended up guest-starring Bert Remsen as well as Kim Cattrall.


In 1982, Koenig appeared on Bring 'Em Back Alive, on which Clyde Kusatsu was a regular cast member. The following year, Koenig played the role of Pompey in a TV movie adaptation of William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. His Original Series co-star Nichelle Nichols played Charmian in this production, while James Avery and Earl Boen also had supporting roles.

Koenig starred in Moontrap (1989), in which he played Col. Jason Grant, an astronaut who takes on sentient machines from the moon that have been programmed to conquer Earth. Koenig's wife and fellow Star Trek alum, Judy Levitt, had a small role in this film. Also that year Koenig appeared in Deadly Weapon, which also featured Deep Space Nine guest star Gary Frank.


Besides his work on Star Trek, Koenig is also well known for his role as villainous Psi Cop Alfred Bester on Babylon 5. He appeared in twelve episodes of this show between 1994 and 1998, during which time he worked with fellow Star Trek alumni Caitlin Brown, Brian Cousins, Diane DiLascio, Mike Genovese, Andreas Katsulas, Leigh J. McCloskey, Christopher Michael, Marjorie Monaghan, Bill Mumy, Julia Nickson, Tracy Scoggins, Patricia Tallman, and John Vickery. Koenig's wife, Judy Levitt, was also seen on the show, playing a fellow Psi Cop. Among those who directed Koenig on Babylon 5 were Tony Dow and Michael Vejar. Koenig had previously been offered a different guest role in the first season episode "And the Sky Full of Stars", but his health at the time prevented him from accepting, and the role ultimately went to Christopher Neame. [8] (Had Koenig taken the role, it would have reunited him with his Wrath of Khan co-star Judson Scott).

Koenig had a supporting role in the 1996 martial arts film Sworn to Justice, working alongside Brad Dourif. He then starred in the 1997 independent film Drawing Down the Moon, which also involved martial arts. In addition, Koenig participated in the video game Maximum Surge, in which he portrayed the villainous role of Drexel. He reprised this role in 2003 for a TV movie based on the game. Michael Champion, Chris Doyle, John Eskobar, Leslie Hoffman, Michael Jace, and Spice Williams also appeared in the video game version, while Dick Miller and Vincent Schiavelli had roles in the TV movie.

In 1998, Koenig made a gag appearance on an episode of Diagnosis Murder which involved a possible alien abduction. The episode also featured his TOS co-stars Majel Barrett, George Takei, and Grace Lee Whitney, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wil Wheaton, and aforementioned Lost in Space and Babylon 5 star (and Deep Space Nine guest actor) Bill Mumy.


Koenig made an appearance in the independent science fiction movie/pilot, The Privateers, in which he acted alongside Karl Urban. Koenig later made a guest appearance as a Russian submarine commander on the comedy series Son of the Beach, on which Deep Space Nine guest actress Lisa Banes was a regular.

Koenig and his Original Series castmates (with the exception of James Doohan and DeForest Kelley) voiced caricatures of themselves in the 2002 episode of Futurama entitled "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". This episode parodied many aspects of Star Trek, and thus contained numerous Star Trek-related references, gags, and in-jokes. Some of the references related to Koenig included his delivery of "nuclear wessels" in Star Trek IV and his having to share scripts with George Takei on the set of TOS.

In 2003, Koenig played the role of "Mr. Lofcheck" in the short film Roddenberry on Patrol. This short film, directed by and co-starring Voyager regular Tim Russ, offers a comedic look at how Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek. It also featured Star Trek alumni Robert Beltran, Richard Herd, Nichelle Nichols, Robert O'Reilly, Robert Picardo, and George Takei.

Anton Yelchin and Walter Koenig

Koenig visits the set of Star Trek and meets Anton Yelchin, the alternate Pavel Chekov

Koenig recently wrote, starred in, and executive produced a science fiction film called InAlienable. Koenig premiered an unfinished trailer of the film at the 2007 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. [9](X) Marina Sirtis also starred in the film; among the other performers who appear are fellow Star Trek alumni Erick Avari, Gary Graham, Richard Herd, J.G. Hertzler, Judy Levitt, Lisa LoCicero, Courtney Peldon, Alan Ruck, Patricia Tallman, and Koenig's son, Andrew. When originally announced in 2003, InAlienable – then known as Illegal alien – was set to star John de Lancie and Robert Picardo. [10](X) According to Koenig during his appearance in Las Vegas, Picardo had to drop out of the film because his was filling in for Koenig on a Star Trek cruise. John de Lancie also dropped out as he was unhappy with the changes being made to the film.

Other recent acting credits from Koenig include a supporting role in the 2006 film Mad Cowgirl and an appearance in the 2007 TV movie Bone Eater. In 2006, he published his first novel, Buck Alice And the Actor-robot, in which survivors of an alien invasion vie for the hand of the last fertile woman on Earth.


On 21 June 2011 it was announced that Koenig was among the honorees of the 2012 Hollywood Walk of Fame stars. Fellow Trek actor and Generations co-star Malcolm McDowell joined him and also received his star. [11] [12]

Star Trek appearances[]

as Pavel Chekov[]

Additional appearances[]


Writing credits[]

External links[]