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Merritt Butrick

Merritt Butrick
Born Merritt R. Butrick
(1959-09-03)September 3, 1959
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
Died March 17, 1989(1989-03-17) (aged 29)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1981–1989

Merritt R. Butrick (September 3, 1959 – March 17, 1989) was an American actor, known for his roles on the 1982 teen sitcom Square Pegs, in two Star Trek feature films, and a variety of other acting roles in the 1980s.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Death and legacy 2
  • Filmography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and career

Butrick was born in Gainesville, Florida and was an only child. He graduated in 1977 from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California.[1] 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 "Johnny Slash" Ulasewicz, a major supporting character in the 1982 teen sitcom Square Pegs, which received critical praise but was cancelled after 19 episodes (one season).[2] The character was described by one critic as an "apparent (but never declared) gay student."[3]

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. He continued the role in the follow-up film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, 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", a 1988 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Meanwhile, he appeared in the 1982 comedy film Zapped!, the 1988 horror film Fright Night II, and as Barbara Hershey's hillbilly son in the 1987 drama Shy People. He had a variety of guest roles in 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 legacy

Butrick died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by his AIDS, on March 17, 1989, at the age of 29.[4][5] 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.[6][7]

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 show 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.

Some sources state that in his private life, Butrick was gay.[8] Kirstie Alley, his co-star in Star Trek II, identified Butrick as being bisexual.[9]


Year Film Role Notes
1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Dr. David Marcus
Zapped! Gary Cooter
1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Dr. David Marcus
1985 Head Office John Hudson
1986 Wired to Kill Reegus Alternative title: Booby Trap
1987 Shy People Mike
1988 Death Spa David Avery Alternative title: Witch Bitch
Fright Night II Richie
1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Dr. David Marcus (Picture only)
Year Title Role Notes
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
Hooperman 1 episode
1989 From the Dead of Night Rick Television movie


  1. ^ Tamalpais High School Alumni Directory 2002. Purchase, New York: Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company. 2002. 
  2. ^ Wolcott, James (November 8, 1982). "Slow Times at Weemawee High". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  3. ^ Werts, Diane (2006). Christmas on Television. Westport CT: Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66.  
  4. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 225.  
  5. ^ Moore, Patrick (2004). Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 199.  
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Greven, David (2009). Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 147.  
  9. ^ Alley, Kirstie (2012). Art of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente). Simon & Schuster. 

External links

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