An actor who was not afraid to take chances in the 1960s, and continued a television career that lasted well into his golden years, has died.
William Windom was suffering from congestive heart failure in his northern California home, according to CBS News. He was 88.
Genre fans would easily recognize Windom as Commodore Matt Decker, the unshaven Starfleet officer upset that he was rescued from a lost command in the popular "Star Trek" episode "Doomsday Machine." The episode was written by Norman Spinrad, and was actually a play on Moby Dick's Capt. Ahab with the original intention of casting popular villain character actor Robert Ryan to the role.
Windom was cast instead, and some of the harshness of the character was toned down, according to Memory Alpha, in an effort to make sure William Shatner's Capt. Kirk wasn't upstaged in the episode. Windom himself reportedly said later that he modeled Decker after Humphrey Bogart's Capt. Queeg from "The Caine Mutiny," including his habit of playing with objects in his hands.
But it wasn't just "Star Trek" that attracted Windom toward science-fiction. He appeared in two episodes of "The Twilight Zone" in the 1960s -- "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" and "Miniature." He also appeared in 1971's "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" with Roddy McDowall and two episodes of Rod Serling's "Night Gallery" shortly after.
In the 1980s, he would appear in "The Incredible Hulk," "Fantasy Island," "The Greatest American Hero," "Automan," "Knight Rider" and "Space Rage."
Windom would join CBS' "Murder She Wrote" around the same time, playing Dr. Seth Hazlitt, and would appear in more than 50 episodes. He would, however, slow down his character actor work in the 1990s, and would make his final appearance in the 2006 short "Just" from writer and director Jesse Wheeler.
Windom also would reprise his role as Matt Decker in a 2004 episode of the fan series "Star Trek: New Voyages."
He would win only one award in his career, an Emmy, for his short-lived series "My World and Welcome to It" in 1970, beating out Bill Cosby for "The Bill Cosby Show" and Lloyd Hanes from "Room 222" in the comedy category.
William Windom was born Sept. 28, 1923 in New York City. He was the great-grandson of William Windom, who was twice the U.S. Treasury Secretary -- first in 1881 for Presidents James A. Garfield and Chester Arthur, and again from 1889 until his death in 1891 under President Benjamin Harrison. He was also a congressman and a senator.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia Windom, and four children.
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