Chekov of Star Trek
"'Star Trek' has given me a considerable amount of satisfaction and a certain amount of respect in the industry community and among people who watch TV and movies. I enjoy that. I enjoy feeling good about myself. God knows it's easy enough for me to feel bad about myself; I need all the support I can get. 'Star Trek' deserves the respect it has received. If I'm going to be aligned with something, it might as well be something that makes a worthwhile statement most of the time. No, I don't have any regrets about my involvement with 'Star Trek'." Walter Koenig
Character actor Walter Koenig is popular among “Star Trek” fans for his role as Ensign Pavel Chekov (1967-1969) on the NBC original science-fiction series. He reprised the role in the TV series successful film adaptations, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979), "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" (1982; earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984), "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986; earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989), "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), "Star Trek: Generations" (1994), and the straight-to-video released "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men" (2007).
Besides his “Star Trek” role, the boyish-looking actor is also known for his role as agent Alfred Bester on the sci-fi series "Babylon 5" (1993-1998). He is also a productive writer and has written three books: "Buck Alice and the Actor Robot" (1988), "Chekov's Enterprise," and "Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe" (1998), his autobiography. Additionally, he has created his own comic book series called “Raver,” which was published by Malibu Comics. Koenig's also wrote for the “Star Trek” comic series and even "guest stared" in an “Eternity Smith” comic.
On a more personal note, this 5' 6" actor was married to Emmy-nominated actress Anjanette Comer and has been married to his present wife, actress Judy Levitt, since 1965. They have two grown-up children, actor Andrew Koenig and actress Danielle Koenig.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 14, 1936, Walter Marvin Koenig (last name is pronounced "Kaynig") was raised in the Inwood area of Manhattan, N.Y. and has been a life-long Yankee’s fan. His parents, Sara and Isadore (businessman), were Russian Jewish immigrants from the Republic of Lithuania in the Soviet Union who changed their original surname to Koenigsberg. He has two siblings, Norman and Vera.
Koenig attended New York public grammar schools and graduated from Fieldston High School in Riverdale, NY. He then went to Grinnell College in Iowa with a pre-med major before eventually transferring to UCLA, where he received a BA in psychology. He would later teach classes in acting and directing at UCLA, The Sherwood Oaks Experiment Film College, the Actor's Alley Repertory Company in Los Angeles and the California School of Professional Psychology.
Koenig was once married to Emmy-nominated actress Anjanette Comer (born on August 7, 1939). He is now married to actress Judy Levitt (born on September 1, 1940). They have two grown-up children, actor Andrew Koenig (August 17, 1968) and actress Danielle Koenig (born on February 5, 1973). Koenig and Judy Levitt appeared together in the "Babylon 5" (1994) episode "A Race Through Dark Places" which aired in 1995. They now reside in Los Angeles. Koenig had bypass surgery in 1993.
Koenig is also an activist and visited refugee camps along the Burma-Thailand border from July 16 to July 25, 2007, to help the human rights group U.S. Campaign for Burma in their grassroots campaign to get the message out about the humanitarian crisis in the country.
New York-raised Walter Koenig made his stage debut in high school with the title role in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's “Peer Gynt” and as Dick Dudgeon in G. Bernard Shaw's “The Devil’s Disciple.” He later performed in summer stock in Vermont while a college student. After receiving a BA in psychology from UCLA, he studied acting at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Dabney Coleman, Brenda Vacarro, Christoper Lloyd, Jessica Walters, Elizabeth Ashley, and James Caan. Koenig's work at the Playhouse was rewarded with a scholarship.
In the 1960s, Koenig made his TV debut in ABC's "Day in Court" (1962) and appeared in Robert Stambler's low-budget independent feature film about homosexuality, "Strange Lovers" (1963). He also got to know producer Gene Roddenberry when he appeared on a 1964 episode of the TV series "The Lieutenant" and played Ensign Pavel Andreievich Chekov, a Russian Starfleet officer in the fictional Star Trek universe, on the NBC original science-fiction series "Star Trek" during its second and third seasons (1967-1969).
"I didn't watch "Star Trek" the first year it was on, before I was on the show. I took one look at the styrofoam rocks and said, 'There's no way I'm going to watch this!'" Walter Koenig
During the 1970s, Koenig played the alien Oro of planet Xar in the Canadian-produced, syndicated science-fiction series "Starlost" (1973-1974), before returning to the big screen in 1979 to reprise his role of Chekov in the first of the successful "Star Trek" films. He would later revisit the role in the following sequels "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" (1982; earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984), "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986; earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989), "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), "Star Trek: Generations" (1994), and the straight-to-video released "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men" (2007).
“Well, Chekov was the Russian representative at a time when the Cold War was still very much an influence in world politics. To that extent, the introduction of a nationality considered hostile to our way of life was certainly a step toward developing a sense of multi-nationality, multi-ethnicity, multi-racial make-up that ‘Star Trek’ has always been known for.” Walter Koenig
Koenig also played the lead role of shuttle commander Jason Grant in the science fiction feature "Moontrap" (1989; alongside Bruce Campbell), and Alfred Bester, a senior Psi Corps agent who acts as a recurring antagonist of the crew, on the sci-fi series "Babylon 5," which ran from February 22, 1993, to November 25, 1998. In the late 1990s, he also appeared on TV commercials for GNP Crescendo Records.
Koenig recently played a television preacher in Gregory Hatanaka's independent film "Mad Cowgirl" (2006). He also appeared in a TV commercial for DirecTV as Commander Pavel Chekov and has completed his upcoming projects, a horror sci-fi TV movie called "Bone Eater" and a sci-fi motion picture titled "InAlienable," which he wrote.
“I have done several dialects on television and stage. My father spoke with a Russian accent and although he was no longer with us when I started ‘Star Trek,’ his speech probably influenced the accent that I used.” Walter Koenig
On stage, Koenig has appeared in productions of "Actors," "The Boys of Autumn," "The Deputy," "The White House Murder Case," "Night Must Fall" and "Steambath.”
Koenig is also a productive writer. He has written three books: "Buck Alice and the Actor Robot" (1988), "Chekov's Enterprise," and "Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe" (1998), which is his autobiography. He has created his own comic book series called “Raver,” which was published by Malibu Comics. Koenig's also wrote for the “Star Trek” comic series and even "guest stared" in an “Eternity Smith” comic.
When asked on how many month/years he took to write "Warped Factors," Koenig revealed, “I wrote the first 20,000 words in about three months and then once it was sold, I did the finally 90,000 over a period of five months.”
When asked if he is thinking of writing a “Star Trek” novel, he replied, “No. 'Star Trek' has been so much a part of my life that when I do write, I try to investigate storylines that are a departure from the constant experience that I've had with 'Star Trek.'