This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we honor the memory of actor Bruce Hyde, who passed away at the age of 74 last week. He is best known for his two early appearances on TOS as Lieutenant Kevin Riley.
(Riley at the conn next to Sulu, in one of his appearances)
Kevin Riley only made two appearances in the show, both in the first season. However, he's the star of the show in the episode The Naked Time, which was one of the first episodes aired and therefore makes him highly memorable despite the limited appearances.
In The Naked Time, Riley takes control of the ship when infected with a disease that causes people to lose their emotional inhibitions. While other notable things are happening like Sulu running around with a fencing foil and his shirt off, Riley barricades himself in the engine room and sings dictates to the crew as "acting captain." Hilarity ensues.
Riley: You rang, sir?
Capt. Kirk: Who is this?
Riley: This is Captain Kevin Thomas Riley of the Starship Enterprise. And who's this?
Capt. Kirk: This is Captain Kirk. Get out of the engine room, Navigator. Where's Mr. Scott?
Riley: I've relieved Mister Scott of his duties.
Riley: [over the intercom] Lt. Uhura, you've interrupted my song, uh... I'm sorry but there'll be no ice cream for YOU tonight.
Capt. Kirk: Cut him off.
Uhura: I can't, sir. There's no way to do it.
Riley: Attention, crew, this is Capt. Riley. There will be a formal dance in the bowling alley at nineteen hundred hours tonight.
Riley then makes a very small appearance in The Conscience of the King, but this is nowhere near as notable as his taking over the ship and singing the Irish night away. That may be why we did not see much of him again, as that was such a strong bit role that it would've likely been difficult to keep him in the background. Plus, recurring background roles basically did not exist on TOS, as Riley is one of only three actors to portray the same background character in more than one episode.
Bruce Hyde had an incredibly short television acting career, with all of his roles being in 1965 and 1966 other than a recent appearance in 2010 in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald. Star Trek was easily his most notable role, but he also managed appearances in The Beverly Hillbillies and on Dr. Kildare.
Hyde was known better for many years of stage acting on Broadway. He settled down in Minnesota and taught acting classes for St. Cloud State University the past decade, while acting in local productions until the day he died last week.
Rest in peace, Bruce. Thank you for your contributions to Star Trek and the future artistic endeavors of other actors.
Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...