Harve Bennett, who was responsible for the production end of many classic mid-1970s fantasy programs, like The Six Million Dollar Man, as well as some of the more memorable Star Trek theatrical releases, died Wednesday, March 4, in Medford, OR. He was 84.
Born in Chicago and a graduate of California’s USC Film School, Bennett did a stint in the Army before settling into the production end of show business, eventually become Vice President of ABC Programming for a spell. Post this position, Bennett became a full-fledged producer at Universal Studios, helming the classic late 1960s/early 1970s youth-are-cops Mod Squad and sci-fi/fantasy yarn styled programs such as the aforementioned Six Million Dollar Man, the spinoff gender bender of The Bionic Woman, as well as miniseries and other programs like Rich Man, Poor Man and 1975 television adaptation of The Invisible Man series.
But it may have been his work on the original run of the Star Trek film series in which he became most known to the geek universe and ultimately was one of his most successful projects. After being trusted by Paramount to deliver a more satisfactory and exciting Star Trek theatrical release, as the embarrassment of the mild audience and critic response to the first film released in 1979 almost wrecked the reputation of the entire franchise, Bennett came through in spades with 1981’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, starring Ricardo Montalban as the vengeful titular character. It was his idea to bring the character of Khan, who appeared in the 1967 original series episode “Space Seed,” to the big screen for the sequel, with Ricardo Montalban reprising the role. This second film was a smash at the box office and gave a much-needed shot in the arm in terms of audience respect, action, and a film that re-ignited the intensity and loyalty of the rabid Trekkies and even gained an entirely new audience of fans as well. It led to Bennett producing the next three Star Trek films thereafter.
Post-Star Trek, Bennett co-created and produced the TV series Time Trax in 1993 and the animated Invasion America in 1998, a project in which he was reunited with the legendary and late Star Trek alumnus, Leonard Nimoy.