by Lisa M. Lynch
Although he might be considered a “minor” character in Star Trek, Eddie Paskey’s Lt. Leslie had a major role in the series. He appeared in 57 episodes, more than Walter Koenig’s Mr. Chekov or George Takei’s Mr. Sulu!
Usually wearing red, Lt. Leslie spent most of his time on the show at the engineering station on the bridge and on security detail. He has also worn a gold operations uniform and a blue sciences uniform. According to Paskey’s website, he once played an assistant to Dr. McCoy by the name of Mr. Connors!
Paskey’s first appearance on Star Trek was during the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Stationed on the planet Delta Vega as a security guard (in blue), he comes out of the lithium cracking plant to assist Kirk, Spock, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner (Sally Kellerman) and Dr. Piper with Gary Mitchell. He also can be seen in this episode within the plant as he stands with Kirk, Spock, and Dr. Dehner while watching Gary Mitchell in his cell.
In the second season episode “Obsession,” our poor red-shirted Lt. Leslie is one of the security guards killed in the first act by a dikironium cloud, rendered pale blue after having every blood corpuscle drained from his body. Happily he returns the next week as hale and hardy as before. The script had originally called for the dead crew members to be brought back to life with some sort of magic potence, but the scene was never shot. However, William Shatner still needed his stand-in, so Lt. Leslie slid by on a technicality!
In the episode “This Side of Paradise,” the entire crew of the Enterprise is infected by the flower spores from Omicron Ceti III. As the crew line up at the transporter room to beam down to the planet to start their life of spore-induced bliss, Captain Kirk confronts them. After twice demanding they go back to their stations, Leslie steps out and says, “I’m sorry, Sir, but we’re all going down to join the colony!” Kirk again demands they return to their stations, but Leslie shakes his head. “No Sir.” When Kirk replies, “This is mutiny, Mister!” Leslie answers with a grin, “Yes, Sir… it is!”
Lt. Leslie can also be found in the Captain’s chair performing as duty officer while the others are elsewhere in both “The Squire of Gothos” and “The Alternative Factor.”
Q & A With Eddie Paskey
I had a wonderful opportunity to exchange emails with Mr. Paskey, and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions from me.
How were you chosen to work on the show?
Paskey: I had worked with the assistant director (Gregg Peters, who was also production manager and associate producer during the three years of Star Trek’s run) on several different shows—Lucy Show, Mission Impossible pilot, and a pilot named Police Story (an unsold pilot by series creator Gene Roddenberry, filmed before Star Trek and aired in 1967, which also starred DeForest Kelly and Grace Lee Whitney). After about two months Gregg called to ask if I would like to be Bill (Shatner’s) stand-in which would put me in line for small on-film parts. Of course I said “Yes!”
Were you considered for other roles?
Paskey: Not really. Being on the set every day they would use the stand-ins for background, etc.
Did you play any other characters besides Lt. Leslie?
Paskey: Yes. [I] was a German soldier with a mustache and I was one of the people firing machine guns in “A Piece of the Action,” and I did drive the truck that hit Joan. [Paskey drove the truck that ran over the Joan Collins’ Edith Keeler character, killing her and changing Earth’s history in “The City on the Edge of Forever.”]
Is it true William Shatner named your character after his oldest daughter?
Paskey: I was in George (Takei’s) spot and Bill was to tell me to leave orbit and he said “Eddie needs a name, I can’t just say ‘Hey You’—let’s call him Leslie after my daughter,” so Lt. Leslie was born.
Are you and Shatner friends?
Paskey: Yes, Bill is my friend. Good guy!!!
Were you friends with any of the other cast?
Paskey: No, not really, however Judy and I did go out with Dee (DeForest Kelley) and his wife Carolyn for cocktails. Went to Frank Da Vinci’s (stand-in for Leonard Nimoy and Lt. Brent in the series) bar in the Valley. Dee was a true Southern Gentleman!
Do you have a favorite memory from your time on Star Trek?
Paskey: I enjoyed being on the show, feel very honored to be a part of history and (am) still amazed at the loyalty of the fans… it was a special time in my life and [I’m] very thankful for the opportunity.