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Michael Ansara: He Was Cochise and Star Trek Villain ‘Kang’

When Syrian immigrant Michael Ansara enrolled at Los Angeles City College in the early 1940s, his ambition was to become a doctor. But instead he found his true calling as an actor.

Ansara, who died on July 31 at age 91 in Calabasas, Calif., may have been best known as Klingon commander Kang, the towering, intimidatingly deep-voiced leader of a band of swarthy, warlike extraterrestrials who confronted Capt. James Kirk (William Shatner) and the Starship Enterprise crew in “Day of the Dove,” a classic episode of the original Star Trek television series.

Here’s a clip in which Kang and Kirk engage in a sword fight inside the Enterprise, until Kirk convinces the alien leader that they must join forces against a common enemy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqtq9fbDueQ

Ansara was so deftly brooding and menacing as Kang that he was later called on to reprise the role in the Star Trek spinoffs Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, donning the bumpy latex forehead that makeup artists gave to the Klingons in the later series.

In nearly half a century as an actor, Ansara played scores of other roles, appearing in films ranging from The Ten Commandments to Rambo and in TV series such as the original Dragnet, Perry Mason, and The Man from Uncle.  Because of his dark complexion and exotic good looks, he often was cast as a Native American, and he had a starring role in the 1956-58 series Broken Arrow as Apache chief Cochise.

Here are some intriguing facts about Ansara: