Beam me up, Scotty

James Doohan as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the bridge with Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in the Star Trek episode, “A Piece of the Action.”
James Doohan as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the bridge with Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in the Star Trek episode, “A Piece of the Action.”

Intro

You probably have heard the famous catchphrase and misquotation of ‘Beam me up, Scotty’, popularized by Captain Kirk in the Original Star Trek Series by Gene Roddenberry in 1966.

What you might not know is that Montgomery Scott, the Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, led a company of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles ashore at Juno beach on D-Day.

The actor was shot 6 times, survived and went on to become Scotty on Star Trek.

James Montgomery Doohan

‘Scotty’ was born James Montgomery Doohan (March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005) In Vancouver, Canada. The 4th child of Irish immigrant parents.

When the family moved from Vancouver to Sarnia (Ontario), Doohan attended the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School, where he particularly excelled at physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

A young James Montgomery Doohan in his military uniform
A young James Montgomery Doohan in his military uniform

Years later, he was actually awarded an honorary degree by Milwaukee engineering school, after almost half the student body reported they chose to study engineering because of Scotty.

Military Career

His proficiency in science led him to join the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in 1938. Fleeing his turbulent home life, he joined the Royal Canadian Legion in 1939.

By 1940, James Doohan had worked his way to Lieutenant and was sent over to Britain with the 14th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

He saw action in Europe in World War II, including the Normandy D-Day invasion, where he was wounded, apparently by friendly fire.

Canadian soldiers disembark at Juno Beach in Normandy, France during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
Canadian soldiers disembark at Juno Beach in Normandy, France during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

James M. Doohan took out two snipers and was shot six times, four in his leg, one through his middle finger, and one in the chest. And almost out of a movie plot, the bullet in his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case given to him by his brother.  

After his recovery, Doohan trained as a pilot where he was taught to fly a Taylorcraft Auster Mark IV aircraft and graduated from the Air Observation Pilot Couse 40 along with eleven other Canadian officers. He was known as the “craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force”.

Lt. James Montgomery “Jimmy” Doohan, 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.
Lt. James Montgomery “Jimmy” Doohan, 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

Many who idolize him are unaware of his actual heroism, as one of the 14,000 Canadian soldiers to descend upon the beaches of Normandy in WWII.

Acting Career

In the mid-1950s, he appeared in a Canadian version of Howdy Doody, playing the Forest Ranger Timber Tom (the Northern equivalent to Buffalo Bob).

He returned to Toronto in 1953 and appeared in dozens of roles on radio, stage, and television, including a few small parts on popular American TV series like Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, and Bewitched. In 1956-57, he appeared as a recurring minor character on the sitcom Homeboys in Outer Space.

Forest Ranger Timber Tom -Canadian version of Howdy Doody
Forest Ranger Timber Tom -Canadian version of Howdy Doody

Doohan has also made guest appearances in Marcus Welby, M.D., Tarzan and the Super 7, Daniel Boone (1969- The Cache, 1970- The Perilous Passage), and Back to Peyton Place.

He was Commander Kanarwin on the short-lived Saturday morning live-action kids’ show Jason on Star Command, and had a cameo appearance in the made-for-TV film Knight Rider 2000, playing Jimmy Doohan, the man who played Montgomery Scott in Star Trek.

Star Trek Years

Doohan’s impact was far greater than a typical TV actor. Doohan’s particular skill at doing different accents came from his days as a voice-over artist for Canadian radio, and that speciality led to him landing the part of Montgomery Scott in 1965. Scotty’s chosen accent for Doohan was not a relatively jarring Aberdonian; the particular accent used by Doohan implied that the majority of Montgomery Scotty’s formative years were spent at or near Edinburgh, a point supported by original script notes.

Producer Gene Roddenberry initially wanted to drop Doohan from the show after the second pilot, but Doohan’s agent became upset after hearing the news that his client was planning on being fired, eventually persuading Roddenberry to keep Scott on the show.

Behind the scenes, James Montgomery Doohan made great contributions to the development of the Klingon and Vulcan languages.

James Doohan, right, as Engineer Montgomery Scott, in a rare moment where his missing finger is visible on set of Star Trek.
Engineer Montgomery Scott, right, in a rare moment where his missing finger is visible on the set of Star Trek.

After the Star Treks TV series ended in 1969, Doohan spent the 70s playing a variety of roles on TV and film, trying to keep up his acting career. His roles in these shows also allowed Doohan to make connections to several future Star Trek actors, including Skip Homeier and Keith Andes, who appeared alongside Doohan on one episode of The Outer Limits. Doohan and Shatner were both featured in a Canadian 1950s sci-fi television series, Space Command.

When the Star Trek franchise was relaunched, Doohan reprised the role of Montgomery Scotty in the seven Star Trek films. After the cancellation of the original Star Trek television series, Doohan was cast as a typecast, with limited success finding other roles; he returned to portray Montgomery Scotty in both the animated and film sequels to the series, as well as making frequent appearances at Star Trek conventions.

Death

He died in 2005 at the ripe age of 85, in his home in Redmond, Wash, with his third wife, Wendt, at his side. He asked that his family cremate him, with his remains being shot off into space. A piece of his ashes, 1/4 oz (7 grams), was scheduled to fly into orbit, along with 308 others, including Project Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Doohan's star on Hollywood Boulevard after his death
Doohan’s star on Hollywood Boulevard after his death

The original mission of SpaceLoft XL carrying his ashes was delayed and ended with a suborbital flight before parachuting to earth. The ashes were relaunched on a Falcon 1 rocket in 2008m but the rocket failed two minutes after launch.

Actor James Doohan’s main engineer Montgomery Scott from the Original Series television show Star Trek had his ashes smuggled aboard the ISS by Richard Garriott in 2008, where he is appropriately floating through space today.

6 thoughts on “Beam Me Up, Scotty!

  1. this is my first time that i find a website that put a important information and the true story of James Montgomery Doohanso thank you for that post that gives me facts and make me know the story of the legend james

  2. Wow, the story of ames Montgomery Doohan is so intense. This is why there is a famous saying, success comes after struggle. Even after being shot 6 times to achieve what he has done takes lots of courage and willpower. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story.

  3. The fact that he calls saving a life the best thing he did with his truly speaks volumes about the kind of man he was. His legacy is one of hope, compassion and wisdom. This is what greatness looks like.

  4. I remember watching this series with my father, many years ago, it was my favorite.
    I would like to watch it now, does anyone know where I can watch it or download it legally?

  5. Definitely star trek is one of the TV series I’m nostalgic for. I always loved how Doohan portrayed Scotty as more interested in the ship than his rank. Reading his story was very impressive … nice article.

  6. Excellent read, Star Trek brings back memories of growing up as a kid and it was one of my favourite tv shows back then. Sad to hear about the death of the actor, RIP.

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