There were rumors circulating through the Trekkie community for years that Walter Keonig was hired to appear on the second season of “Star Trek” because the then-30-year-old actor looked an awful lot like Davy Jones from “The Monkees.” This wasn’t the case, but Keonig provided a youthful, heartthrob quality with his character, Pavel Chekov. His character was Russian, a notable character decision to make in the mid-1960s as the U.S. was still embroiled deeply in the Cold War. Chekov was a symbol that peace would eventually come. Koenig was never anything less than 100% committed, and reacted to extreme sci-fi scenarios with fire and aplomb.
In the early ’60s, the actor worked his way through smaller roles in multiple well-known TV series like “Mr. Novak,” “Gidget,” and “I Spy” before joining “Star Trek” in its second season. After, he continued apace, working on TV regularly, eventually landing a recurring role on a second beloved sci-fi series “Babylon 5.” He has also stayed a part of “Star Trek” up until the present, having provided a voice cameo in the most recent season of “Star Trek: Picard,” as well as reprising his role as Chekov in the semi-professional and well-respected fan series “Star Trek: New Voyages.” He’s also dabbled in many amusing B-movies like “Mad Cowgirl” and “Scream of the Bikini,” as well as animated shows like “Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters.”
Additionally, Koenig has served as an advocate for civil rights in Burma, having visited refugee camps there. Koenig still appears at conventions, happy to talk about his various projects and acting endeavors. Just please, whatever you do, don’t ask him to say “nuclear wessels.” The man just turned 87. He deserves a break from that.