(written from a Production point of view)
Fran Bennett (born 14 August 1937; age 80) is a prolific film and television actress who played Fleet Admiral Shanthi in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fifth season episode "Redemption II". She filmed her scene for this episode on Wednesday 10 July 1991 on Paramount Stage 8. Seventeen years later Bennett portrayed the second Vulcan midwife beside Jill Lover in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. Her scene, "Spock's Birth", was cut from the final film but is included on the Special Edition DVD and the Blu-ray. According to the call sheet of Monday 16 September 1991, Bennett was up to reprise her role of Admiral Shanthi for the fifth season episode "Unification I" but was replaced by Karen Hensel as Admiral Brackett.
Bennett began her screen acting career with infrequent TV work during the 1950s and '60s, including a one-year stint on the soap opera Guiding Light. It wasn't until the later 1970s that she began making frequent appearances on television as well as in films. In 1979, she appeared in her first film, the drama Promises in the Dark. That same year, she had a role in the epic TV mini-series Roots: The Next Generations, which featured fellow Star Trek alumni Bernie Casey, Bruce French, Albert Hall, Brock Peters, Bill Quinn, Logan Ramsey, Percy Rodriguez, John Rubinstein, Paul Winfield, and Jason Wingreen. Bennett also starred in the 1988 TV special Roots: The Gift, along with Avery Brooks, LeVar Burton, Kate Mulgrew, and Tim Russ.
In 1981, Bennett starred opposite Robert Picardo and James Sloyan in the TV movie The Violation of Sarah McDavid. Her later TV movie credits include 1984's Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter (with John Glover), 1986's Between Two Women (with Michael Nouri and Terry O'Quinn), 1989's My Dad Can't Be Crazy... Can He (with Wil Wheaton and Judith Jones), 1991's Crazy from the Heart (with Bibi Besch and Brent Spiner), 1992's Majority Rule (with Robin Gammell, John Glover and Richard Herd), and 1998's Tempting Fate (with Randy Oglesby and Steve Rankin).
Throughout the 1980s, Bennett guest-starred in such hit shows as Dallas (starring Glenn Corbett, Susan Howard, Barry Jenner, William Smithers, and Morgan Woodward), Trapper John, M.D. (starring Madge Sinclair), Falcon Crest (with Robert Foxworth and Jonathan Frakes), St. Elsewhere (with Chad Allen, Jeff Allin, Ed Begley, Jr., Norman Lloyd, Deborah May, France Nuyen, Jennifer Savidge, Alfre Woodard, and Jane Wyatt), Cagney & Lacey (in an episode also guest-starring Andrew Robinson), L.A. Law (with Corbin Bernsen, Larry Drake, and Robin Gammell), Dynasty (with Joan Collins, Michael Ensign, Kenneth Tigar), and Tour of Duty (starring Dan Gauthier and Patrick Kilpatrick). She was a regular on the short-lived 1989 series Nightingales, which co-starred Star Trek: Voyager actress Roxann Dawson. That same year she also appeared in the film How I Got Into College with Charles Rocket.
Her more recent film credits include Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994, with Tracy Middendorf, Matt Winston, and Rob LaBelle), Foxfire (1996, with Richard Beymer), Leave It to Beaver (1997, with Christopher McDonald), 8MM (1999), The Sky Is Falling (2000, with Teri Garr and Bert Remsen), and The Next Best Thing (2000, with John Carroll Lynch, Jay Karnes, and Katelin Petersen).
Her TV work during the 1990s included appearances on Mancuso, FBI with Trek veteran Michael Ensign and Voyager star Tim Russ, Amen with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest star Bumper Robinson, WIOU with Eric Pierpoint and Harris Yulin, and multiple appearances on the science fiction series Quantum Leap, starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. Other Trek performers she appeared with on this series include Meg Foster, Glenn Morshower, and Noble Willingham. She would go on to appear with Heidi Swedberg and William Windom on Murder, She Wrote, with George D. Wallace on Arli$$, with Kirsten Dunst and Deborah May on ER, with Seymour Cassel on Chicago Hope, with Robert Foxworth, Tony Plana and Gabrielle Union on the short-lived City of Angels, and with David Graf and Terry Farrell on Becker.
She also appeared with Heidi Swedberg as well as Tony Jay, Robert Pine, Scott Thompson, and Concetta Tomei in a 2001 episode of Providence, co-starred with LeVar Burton, Neal McDonough, and Vanessa Williams on Boomtown, and appeared opposite Rene Auberjonois and William Shatner on Boston Legal. In 2006, she had a recurring role on The Book of Daniel, a series starring Susanna Thompson.
More recent work includes guest roles in Crossing Jordan (2006, with Miguel Ferrer, Lisa Kaminir, and Richard Wharton) and ER (2008, with Scott Grimes and K Callan), a supporting role in the television thriller Grave Misconduct (2008, with Joanna Miles, Bart McCarthy, and John Fleck), and episodes of Numb3rs (2009, with Caroline Lagerfelt) and Community (2010).