Actress and star of Star Trek

Born: April 1, 1930;

Died: May 1, 2015.

Grace Lee Whitney, who has died of natural causes aged 85, was an actress who appeared in Star Trek as an assistant to Captain Kirk. She was written out after eight episodes, a decision which contributed to her years of struggling with alcoholism. But she recovered from the condition, partly with the help of her co-star Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, and dedicated the last 35 years of her life to helping other addicts.

In total, Whitney only appeared in eight episodes of Star Trek in 1966 as Yeoman Janice Rand, but they included some of the early classics of the series including Miri, which is set on a planet where children have run out of control. It was her unrequited love for Captain Kirk that eventually led the scriptwriters to conclude that the character could not go anywhere and they dropped her, although she did later appear in several of the movie spin-offs.

Born in Michigan and raised by adoptive parents (she was put up for adoption when her birth father would not marry her mother), Whitney's first experience of showbusiness was as a singer on local radio. Later, she worked with a band called Prevue in Chicago which led to her winning an opening spot for Billie Holliday.

She then moved into Broadway shows (her first was Top Banana with Phil Silvers) which led to small parts in movies, including Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe, in which she played a member of the all-female band that is infiltrated by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

She also had several roles on television before Star Trek, including the science fiction classic The Outer Limits and the comedy Bewitched. She then appeared in a pilot written by the creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry, which led to her role in the series.

The original intention was that Whitney's character would stay in the series, but after the first few episodes the producers concluded that her love for Kirk would make the captain look bad when he was on planets making love to various alien women. And so Janice Rand was dropped.

The decision had a devastating effect on Whitney, who lost control of her drinking. "I was lost and I began to bottom out," she said. "It took me about 10 years after getting written out to come to my senses."

By the late 70s she was sober, with the help of Leonard Nimoy, and she appeared in the first Star Trek movie in 1979. She then went on to appear in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. She also appeared in an episode of the spin-off television series Voyager.

Her son Jonathan Dweck said his mother would have liked to be remembered more as a successful survivor of addiction than for her Star Trek fame. She dedicated the last 35 years of her life helping people with addiction problems, some of whom she met at Star Trek conventions, he said.

"Over time, she became appreciative of her short time on Star Trek because she developed meaningful relationships with the fans, Leonard Nimoy and other cast members," Dweck said.

She is survived by Jonathan and her other son Scott.