Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of Gene Roddenberry -- Star Trek's creator -- has died.
Majel was much more than "Gene's Wife"; she played "Number One" in the pilot "The Cage". "Number One", First Officer to Captain Pike, was a beautiful, supremely confident woman with hardly a trace of human emotion, a logical and brilliant second officer to set off the overly-impulsive but charismatic Pike.
If that sounds familiar-yet-odd, it should. After the pilot was shot, apparently Gene had a conversation that boiled down to "No one's going to believe a tough, logical woman as second in command of a military starship. Oh, and lose the guy with the ears."
Gene was forced to make a choice between showing that the sexes had gained equality, or that we were working in harmony with aliens and on an equal footing with them. He decided, I think correctly, that many other shows would have the opportunity to show women's rights advancing, but very few would be able to present humans and aliens working together for the same organization. (and he was able to add in Lieutenant Uhura, who while drastically underused did manage to get some scenes that didn't show her as weak or incapable.)
So he took the rational, cold Number One's personality and infused it into Mr. Spock (formerly the second or third in command), making the half-Vulcan the second-in-command and the rational foil to the instinctive captain).
He didn't want to lose the excellent talents of Majel Barrett, however, and cast her as the empathic, romantic, but ever-efficient and dependable Nurse Christine Chapel. In addition, Majel lent her voice to every single version of the Trek franchise as the voice of ship's computers throughout Trekspace.
She did much more, of course. She was Lady Morella -- a character with considerable importance despite her one-shot appearance -- in Babylon 5. She played Anna Watson in the recent animated Spider-Man series. She had a career spanning over 50 years.
The "First Lady of Star Trek" was a classy lady whom I wish I had a chance to meet. I've been saying those words far too often lately. STOP WITH THE DYING!