As our way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek,” we decided to start viewing the original series in the order that it was presented. My wife and I remember when the first series aired, and recall watching it with fascination as other viewers did because it was fresh, thought provoking, and fun. Now, its also very nostalgic. Color television was in its infancy then, and it had been a thrill going where no man had gone before, and to do so in color!
Original “Star Trek” cast
The other night we watched episode three (counting the pilot ) entitled, “Charlie X,” and seeing its guest star (who played Charlie), Robert Walker Jr. brought back another, slightly more personal memory. Robert Walker Jr. was a guest start on our show, “The Streets of San Francisco” in 1975. The episode was “Asylum,” and told the story of a youth locked in a psychiatric ward who witnesses the murder of an older patient. Michael Douglas goes undercover as a patient himself to try to discover the murderer. Walker played the young man who sees the murder, and of course at first no one believes him. It was great episode, of an even greater TV series thanks in no little part to my friend, Karl Malden.
Robert Walker Jr. as Charlie X
I have many connections to Star Trek. I met William Shatner in 1967, worked with Leonard Nimoy (in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)), been at the studio where “Star Trek” was filmed, Desilu, and even have a Lucille Ball memory- all of which I’ve written about elsewhere and can be found on this author/blog site. But, seeing this episode opened up a whole set of new ones. For example, in the episode, “Asylum” we filmed at my old high school, Lowell, in San Francisco. I had only graduated three years earlier. It was fun going back with the “Streets” production, now being a part of the crew, and touching base with some of my old instructors. One in particular, Maurice Argent, was a favorite of mine. He was my English teacher, and he, like myself, also belonged to the Brebner Modelling/Casting Agency and did various acting jobs. Mr. Argent could be seen on our show, as well as having speaking roles in “Dirty Harry”(1971), “Magnum Force” (1973) “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978), and many other movies and television shows filmed in the bay area. He’s no longer with us, but was an interesting and talented man… also one heck of an English teacher!
Maurice Argent, playing a role of “Dirty Harry”
Lowell High School, SF
Regarding my memories of Robert Walker Jr., I remember him as a quiet guy, very much the persona you saw on the screen – his “Charlie X” character, minus the malevolence. He couldn’t move things with his mind, but he could move you with his fine performances. He is the son (obviously) of actor Robert Walker (“Strangers on a Train” (1951)), who was a great actor himself (and Walker Jr. favored him in appearance), and mother, Jennifer Jones (“Song of Bernadette” (1943)), a beautiful, talented, and sweet woman- I got to work with her on “The Towering Inferno” (1974). With two wonderfully talented parents as these, how could you go wrong!
Robert Walker Sr.
So, it’s interesting where the viewing of an episode of “Star Trek” might lead you when wandering down memory lane… or is it, where my mind hadn’t gone before!
Tony Piazza is a mystery writer, film historian, and veteran storyteller renowned for his passion for writing and movies. He is the author of four mystery novels and a non-fiction work. Actor and stand-in for movies and television, Piazza has appeared in such notable films as Magnum Force and The Streets of San Francisco. From Clint Eastwood to Steve McQueen, Piazza’s stories read like a who’s who of Hollywood. He is also a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and SLO Nightwriters.