Harve Bennett, who produced four Star Trek movies, The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman died on Wednesday at the age of 84. It was because of Bennett that Wrath of Khan became a classic, and he should be remembered forever as one of heroes of science fiction.
Bennett was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended UCLA, where he graduated from their film school. In 1953, he joined the United States Army, where he served in the Military Police Corps. He was honorably discharged in 1955.
Bennett came to Star Trek when Paramount, dissatisfied with The Motion Picture, asked if he could make a better film and do it for less than the $45 million budget that the first Star Trek movie had cost. It was while watching the whole series that he found himself drawn to "Space Seed" and the character of Khan Noonien Singh. He provided the story idea that became Wrath of Khan, and he worked on the early drafts of the screenplay, and all the credit it the world was given to him by the director Nicholas Meyer:
"He was a remarkable man and he was unpretentious and self-effacing. I don't think there would be a Star Trek franchise without him. He rescued it. He's endangered of being lost in the shuffle, but he's the guy who figured it out," said Meyer, who worked with Bennett on Wrath Of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
"He watched all 79 of those original episodes and he was the one who plucked out Khan."
Bennett would continue on to serve as the producer for The Search For Spock (and provided the original, much more interesting treatment), The Voyage Home, and The Final Frontier. Bennett was also originally on board to make the sixth film, which was at the time planned to be called The Academy Years and focus on the early relationship of Kirk and Spock as Starfleet Academy cadets. Paramount decided that they wanted the 25th Anniversary film to keep the original cast, offering the job once again to Bennett, who declined based on the short production schedule required.
While we might all remember him as an important figure in science fiction, Bennett saw himself as merely writing about heroes, of all kinds. He told Trek Today in 2006:
Trek lovers have called me one of the most important people in science fiction, but I have never thought of myself as a science fiction maven. What I am, and it's because of the background I just talked about, I write about heroes, because I was born and raised in a heroic time. What I loved about Star Trek when I got the assignment was the very heroic male and female, the ethnicity, all that stuff that was a legacy of the Declaration of Independence, that was my attachment to it.