(written from a Production point of view)
William Marshall (19 August 1924 – 11 June 2003; age 78) was an American actor, director, producer, and opera singer who appeared as Doctor Richard Daystrom in the Star Trek: The Original Series second season episode "The Ultimate Computer". He was the cousin of fellow Star Trek actor Paul Winfield.
Marshall is perhaps best known for playing the title role of the 1972 cult vampire melodrama, Blacula, and its 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream. He was also known for his performance as the "King of Cartoons" on the children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse from 1987 through 1991.
Marshall was born in Gary, Indiana, and later lived in Pacoima, California. He was trained as a classical actor as well as an opera singer. He died from complications of Alzheimer's disease in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 78. He died exactly four years after the passing of his TOS co-star DeForest Kelley. Marshall's cousin, Paul Winfield, died the following year.
In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Marshall appeared in several stage plays, including Broadway productions of Carmen Jones, Lost in the Stars (a later production of which starred Brock Peters), and Peter Pan (acting with Nehemiah Persoff). He made his film debut as King Dick in 1952's Lydia Bailey. This was followed with a supporting role in 1954's Demetrius and the Gladiators, co-starring Jay Robinson and featuring Jean Simmons and Julie Newmar. In 1958, he co-starred with Dame Judith Anderson and Theodore Bikel on the live anthology series The DuPont Show of the Month.
Marshall played the title role of William Shakespeare's Othello in several stage productions throughout the 1950s. He also produced the first of these productions at the Mother Zion Church in New York City in 1953. Marshall later starred in and directed The Bear and The Marriage Proposal in 1961, which toured at various US Army based in France. He also directed the play Long Voyage Home at the American Artists and Students Center in Paris, France, in 1962. From 1962 through 1963, Marshall toured as Othello in various European cities as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Norman Lloyd directed Marshall in a 1964 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. That same year, Marshall appeared on the TV series The Nurses, starring Stephen Brooks. Also in 1964, Marshall was seen in an episode of Bonanza with Jason Wingreen, an episode of Rawhide with Don Marshall (no relation) and Harry Townes, and an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with Fritz Weaver. Marshall was then directed by John Meredyth Lucas in a 1965 episode of Ben Casey.
In 1967, Marshall acted alongside fellow TOS actors Jason Evers, Lloyd Haynes, and Perry Lopez in various episodes of NBC's Tarzan. That same year, he co-starred with Lawrence Montaigne in episodes of Daniel Boone and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Marshall then had major supporting roles in the 1968 films To Hell with Heroes (directed by Joseph Sargent and co-starring Sid Haig) and The Boston Strangler. The latter film co-starred fellow TOS guest actors Jeff Corey and Sally Kellerman and also featured cinematography by Star Trek: The Motion Picture director of photography Richard H. Kline.
During this time, Marshall played Richard Daystrom in Star Trek, and later said that he was deeply moved to play such a role of an Black man of such renowned genius whom even a dashing authority figure like Captain Kirk addressed him respectfully as "Sir." For that time in the 1960s, Marshall considered that a rare opportunity to play a character who was very human in a way unrelated to any stereotype of the character's race, and yet reflective of his own frustrations with racism in his own life.
Marshall was directed by Marvin Chomsky in a 1968 episode of The Wild Wild West co-starring Tom Troupe. He then appeared in the CBS/MGM TV pilot movie U.M.C. along with Alfred Ryder, William Windom, and Jason Wingreen.
In 1970, Marshall had a role in the adventure film Skullduggery, which starred Roger C. Carmel and featured Booker Bradshaw. That same year, he had a supporting role in the thriller Zigzag. Stewart Moss, Steve Ihnat, and Vic Perrin also appeared in this film. In 1971, Marshall appeared in the film Honky, along with John Fiedler, and in 1974, he starred in the blaxploitation horror film Abby, which was co-edited by Bub Asman (the supervising sound editor on Star Trek Nemesis). In 1977, Marshall had a role in the thriller Twilight's Last Gleaming, along with his cousin, the late Paul Winfield.
Possibly Marshall's most famous film role was that of Mamuwalde, the African prince who is transformed into the vampire "Blacula" by Count Dracula, in the blaxploitation horror films Blacula (1972) and Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973). The first film also starred fellow Star Trek guest actors Elisha Cook, Charles Macaulay, and Thalmus Rasulala. Blacula won the "Best Horror Film" award at the 1972 Saturn Awards; the second film was nominated for the same honor.
On television, Marshall guest-starred with Davis Roberts in a 1970 episode of Insight and a 1972 episode of Mannix; the latter also featured Dallas Mitchell. He later co-starred with Bernie Casey in a 1977 episode of Police Woman. That same year, Marshall was a regular on the short-lived NBC drama series Rosetti and Ryan.
Marshall reunited with his Demetrius and the Gladiators co-star (and fellow TOS guest star) Jay Robinson for a stage production of William Shakespeare's Othello, which was taped and released on video in 1981. Marshall then guest-starred in an episode of The Jeffersons with Keone Young and appeared in the 1983 horror film Curtains, starring Samantha Eggar. He later played The Grim Reaper in an episode of Benson, the hit comedy series which starred Rene Auberjonois.
In 1986, Marshall had a supporting role in the comedy film Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter, starring Paul Sorvino. He then played the pirate captain in the "Video Pirates" segment of the film Amazon Women on the Moon. Star Trek: The Next Generation guest star Frank Collison worked with Marshall on this skit, while Ed Begley, Jr., Ronny Cox, Larry A. Hankin, Dick Miller, and Robert Picardo appeared in different segments.
Marshall began playing the King of Cartoons on Pee-wee's Playhouse in 1987, replacing actor Gilbert Lewis. During his segment, Marshall's character played a brief cartoon, usually from the "Golden Age" of animation. The King of Cartoons was well-known for introducing each cartoon with his catchphrase "Let…the cartoooon…begin!". He played the role until the series concluded in 1991 on Paul Reubens' request, as he began to suffer from work burnout and was wanting to take a sabbatical.
He and fellow Trek alumni Henry Darrow and Bert Remsen appeared as poker players in the 1994 film Maverick. Marshall then had supporting roles in the cult sexploitation films Sorceress (along with Edward Laurence Albert) and Dinosaur Valley Girl (with Jeff Rector). The latter was Marshall's final film.