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Merritt R. Butrick (September 3, 1959 – March 17, 1989) was an American actor, known for his roles on the teen sitcom Square Pegs (1982), in two Star Trek feature films, and a variety of other acting roles in the 1980s.
Merritt R. Butrick
September 3, 1959
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
|Died||March 17, 1989 (aged 29)|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Early life and careerEdit
Butrick was born in Gainesville, Florida, and was an only child. He graduated in 1977 from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California. He attended the California Institute of the Arts for acting, but was dismissed from the school.
His first screen role was as a rapist in two 1981 episodes of the police drama Hill Street Blues.
He was cast as John "Johnny Slash" Ulasewicz, a major supporting character in the teen sitcom Square Pegs (1982), which received critical praise but was cancelled after 19 episodes (one season). The character was described by one critic as an "apparent (but never declared) gay student."
While Square Pegs was in pre-broadcast production, Butrick was cast to play David Marcus, the physicist son of James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his former lover Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch), in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). He continued the role in the follow-up film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), in which the character was killed. He later appeared as T'Jon, the captain of a cargo vessel rescued by the crew of the Enterprise in "Symbiosis" (1988), an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Meanwhile, he appeared in the comedy film Zapped! (1982), the horror film Fright Night Part 2 (1988), and as Barbara Hershey's hillbilly son in the drama film Shy People (1987). He had a variety of guest roles on television series and television movies.
He received critical praise from Time magazine for his performance at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in the play Kingfish, in which he played a ditzy, petulant muscle-boy prostitute. It was his last acting role.
Death and legacyEdit
Butrick died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS, on March 17, 1989, at the age of 29. He has at least two panels dedicated to him as part of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, both referencing his role as David Marcus.
The 2008 release of Square Pegs on DVD included a featurette dedicated to Butrick, in which his co-stars, including Jami Gertz and Sarah Jessica Parker, and series creator Anne Beatts, paid tributes to and recounted anecdotes about Butrick.
Butrick's Star Trek III co-star Robin Curtis offered similar praise on the DVD commentary for that film. Director Nicholas Meyer, who had directed him in Star Trek II, included a scene in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (filmed after Butrick's death), in which Captain Kirk puts a photograph of his murdered son on his desk.
|1982||Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan||Dr. David Marcus|
|1984||Star Trek III: The Search for Spock||Dr. David Marcus|
|1985||Head Office||John Hudson|
|1986||Wired to Kill||Reegus (The Gang Leader)||Alternative title: Booby Trap|
|1988||Fright Night Part 2||Richie|
|1989||Death Spa||David Avery||(final film role)|
|1981||Hill Street Blues||Rapist||2 episodes|
|Splendor in the Grass||Glenn||Television movie|
|CHiPs||Kevin Whalen||1 episode|
|1982–1983||Square Pegs||Johnny Slash||20 episodes|
|1983||When Your Lover Leaves||Aaron Scott||Television movie|
|1984||Fame||Billy Christiansen||1 episode|
|Sweet Revenge||Captain Paul Dennison||Television movie|
|1985||Promises to Keep||Reg||Television movie|
|1986||Blood & Orchids||Duane York||Television movie|
|Stagecoach||Lieutenant Blanchard||Television movie|
|When the Bough Breaks||Tim Kruger||Television movie|
|1987||Vietnam War Story||Siska||1 episode|
|Beauty and the Beast||Shake||1 episode|
|The Law & Harry McGraw||1 episode|
|1988||Why on Earth?||Oscar||Television movie|
|Jake and the Fatman||Taylor Fleming||1 episode|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation||T'Jon||1 episode ("Symbiosis")|
|1989||From the Dead of Night||Rick||Television movie|
- Tamalpais High School Alumni Directory 2002. Purchase, New York: Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company. 2002.
- Wolcott, James (November 8, 1982). "Slow Times at Weemawee High". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Werts, Diane (2006). Christmas on Television. Westport CT: Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-275-98331-4.
- Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 225. ISBN 978-1-84449-430-9.
- Moore, Patrick (2004). Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-8070-7956-0.
- Greven, David (2009). Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7864-4413-7.
- Alley, Kirstie (2012). Art of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente). Simon & Schuster.