William O’Connell, Renowned Actor and Korean War Hero, Passes Away at 94


The entertainment industry mourns the loss of one of its seasoned veterans, William O’Connell, who passed away at the age of 94. Known for his memorable roles as a villain on “Star Trek” and his frequent collaborations with Clint Eastwood, O’Connell’s legacy spans decades of cinematic and television history.

Born on May 12, 1929, in Los Angeles, O’Connell’s journey to stardom was as remarkable as his performances. Before gracing the screen, he served his country with valor as a 1st lieutenant in the 45th Infantry during the Korean War. His bravery did not go unnoticed; he received the Bronze Star among other commendations, marking him as a true American hero both on and off the battlefield.

O’Connell’s acting career took off in the 1960s, where he became a familiar face on television, appearing in shows such as “Highway Patrol,” “Peter Gunn,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Bonanza,” “Batman,” and “The Lucy Show.” However, it was his role in the 1967 “Star Trek” episode “Journey to Babel” that cemented his place in pop culture as he portrayed Thelev, an antagonist who attempted to destroy the USS Enterprise and even wounded Captain Kirk.

His talents were not limited to the small screen. O’Connell was a close friend of Clint Eastwood and appeared in several of Eastwood’s films, including “Paint Your Wagon,” “High Plains Drifter,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Every Which Way but Loose,” and “Any Which Way You Can.” His performances in these films showcased his versatility and ability to bring depth to every character he played.

O’Connell’s last appearance was in 1991, when he starred in the TV movie “The Haunted” as Father Kearney. This marked the end of an illustrious career that spanned over three decades, leaving behind a body of work that will continue to inspire and entertain future generations.

The news of his passing on January 15, 2024, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, has been met with an outpouring of tributes from fans and colleagues alike. While the cause of death was not disclosed, the impact of his loss is deeply felt across the entertainment community.

William O’Connell may have been known for playing villains and complex characters, but his real-life persona was that of a dedicated actor, a war hero, and a cherished friend. As we remember his contributions to film and television, we also honor his service to our nation.

His performances will live on, ensuring that while we may not always remember the name, we will never forget the face or the talent of William O’Connell.