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(written from a Production point of view)
Michael Dunn (20 October 1934 – 29 August 1973; age 38) was the Academy Award-nominated, Tony Award-nominated American actor who portrayed Alexander in the original Star Trek series episode "Plato's Stepchildren". He was a dwarf, the result of spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, but he refused to let this disorder hinder his goals and managed to avoid the typecasting commonly associated with actors of short stature. Dunn was originally considered for the role of Balok in "The Corbomite Maneuver", but that part eventually went to Clint Howard. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
Early life and stage career Edit
Dunn was born Gary Neil Miller in Shattuck, Oklahoma, and moved with his family to Dearborn, Michigan when he was four. It was at this age that Dunn learned he was a dwarf. He was intellectually and musically gifted; he had high IQ and showed early skill as a singer and a pianist. He enrolled at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in September 1951, when he was 16, and transferred to the University of Miami's College of Arts and Sciences in 1953. He left the university in 1956, returned to Michigan, and attended summer classes at the University of Detroit in 1957.
He began to pursue a stage career in New York in 1958. He made his Broadway debut in How to Make a Man in 1961. In 1963, he was cast as Cousin Lyman in the Broadway production of The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. His fellow cast members in this production included fellow TOS guest actor Lou Antonio. For his performance in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Dunn received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Television work Edit
Dunn is perhaps best known for his recurring role as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, the arch-nemesis of Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon on the 1960s CBS television series The Wild Wild West. He appeared in ten episodes of the show between 1965 and 1968. Among the Star Trek performers he worked with on this series were Anthony Caruso, Robert Ellenstein, Paul Fix, Marianna Hill, Byron Morrow, Susan Oliver, Leslie Parrish, and Jason Wingreen. One of his episodes was directed by Robert Sparr, and another guest-starred John A. Alonzo, who later became a cinematographer on films such as Star Trek Generations.
In addition to his appearance on Star Trek and The Wild Wild West, Dunn also guest-starred on such television series as Get Smart, Burke's Law (in an episode with France Nuyen), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Bonanza, and Night Gallery. He also worked with his "Plato's Stepchildren" co-star Liam Sullivan, as well as Ron Soble, in a 1967 episode of the short-lived western series The Monroes.
Film work Edit
Dunn made his major feature film debut as Glocken in Stanley Kramer's 1965 drama Ship of Fools. For his performance in this film, Dunn received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Barbara Luna also had a role in this film.
Following his Oscar nomination, Dunn was cast in the supporting role of Richard Mudd in Francis Ford Coppola's You're a Big Boy Now. He then played Midget Castiglione in the 1968 crime drama Madigan. He was one of many Star Trek alumni to appear in this film; his castmates included Lloyd Haynes, Albert Henderson, Steve Ihnat, John McLiam, and Warren Stevens.
Dunn had supporting roles in several other films during the late 1960s, including the Paramount Pictures 1968 release No Way to Treat a Lady and the German-made Struggle for Rome films starring Orson Welles. He made several film appearances during the 1970s, the majority of which were released after his death. These included a number of horror films, such as The Werewolf of Washington (which starred Dean Stockwell), Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, and The Mutations, all of which were released in 1974.
Medical condition and deathEdit
Dunn suffered from poor mobility and stamina due to his spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, and his physical condition deteriorated throughout his life. His disorder caused a number of physical abnormalities, including deformed hip joints and uneven leg length, which caused him to limp and waddle. A number of spinal deformities led to a distorted ribcage that restricted Dunn's lung growth and function, which often caused him to wheeze when breathing.
On 29 August 1973, Dunn died in his sleep at the Cadogan Hotel in London, England. At the time, he was on location shooting what became his last film, the historical drama The Abdication. The New York Times reported Dunn's cause of death to be "undisclosed," as the cause had not yet been determined. However, the report prompted much speculation that Dunn had committed suicide. An autopsy performed the day after his death showed that Dunn died of pulmonary heart disease, which came as the result of insufficient respiration.
Dunn was buried on 10 September 1973 at Lauderdale Memorial Park Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, near the retirement home to which his parents planned to move. It was his parents' intention to be buried near their son in Florida; however, they ultimately died in Oklahoma and were buried at the Sunset Memorial Park in Norman, Oklahoma. In 2007, Michael Dunn's remains were exhumed by a first cousin and reburied near the graves of Dunn's mother and father in Sunset Memorial Park.