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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 641


This is the grave of Harve Bennett.

Born Harve Fishman in Chicago in 1930, Bennett grew up in a fairly prosperous family. His father was a lawyer and his mother a journalist. I’m not sure when he changed his name, but I imagine it had a lot to do with the anti-Semitism of American society and his wanting to cover up his Jewish heritage for Hollywood. Anyway, he was in show business from a young age. He appeared on the popular radio program Quiz Kids as a child. He went to UCLA and graduated from their film school and then went into the Army. He was briefly in the Korean War, but mostly was in the Military Police Corps based out of California. He was discharged in 1955 and went into show business as a studio executive. He worked for CBS based out of New York and then became Vice President of Daytime Programming at ABC before rising to Vice President of Programming.

By the late 1960s, Bennett moved away from working for the networks and into television show production. He and Aaron Spelling developed The Mod Squad, which ran from 1968-1973. That was very successful and he joined Universal Studios to develop more television shows. These included The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. From there, he went to Columbia Pictures’ television department and continued to produce both shows and miniseries, mostly fairly minor.

In the early 1980s, Paramount asked Bennett to help develop a franchise it was very interested in: Star Trek movies. The series, silly but fun, had been developed into the initial film, but Paramount was dissatisfied with it. So they asked Bennett to develop the next film in the series. He watched the entire series and decided to center it on the episode “Space Seed,” which had cast Ricardo Montalban as the supervillain Khan Noonien Singh. This became The Wrath of Khan. The film was a huge success, vastly better than the first and then a huge box office hit. Bennett stayed on for the next three Star Trek films as producer and co-writer for the 3rd and 5th. He did a little voice work in these films, as well as playing the Star Fleet Chief of Staff in The Final Frontier. He wanted to make a movie centered on the beginnings of Spock and Kirk’s friendship and the studio was interested, but overwhelmingly negative reactions from fans to seeing the series without Nimoy and Shatner led to the studio turning it down. This was before the franchise had taken so many different angles, including portraying the characters as younger men. Bennett left the Star Trek universe after this fell through.

Bennett continued working after this, most notably bringing the forgettable series Time Trax to television in the mid 1990s. He eventually retired to Medford, Oregon, where he died of a embolism in his lung in 2015, just two days before Leonard Nimoy died. He was 84 years old.

Harve Bennett is buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.

If you would like this series to visit other people associated with Star Trek, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Leonard Nimoy is in Culver City, California and Ricardo Montalban is in Ladera Heights, California. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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