I hate writing eulogies. And when it’s the passing of an actor who was a significant part of Star Trek, it hurts even more. But when that actor was also a friend to fan films, that’s a Vulcan neck pinch, a phaser on stun, and a punch to the gut all at the same time.

GARY GRAHAM, who passed away yesterday from a heart attack and subsequent brain bleed at the age of 73, enjoyed a long career in Hollywood, beginning to act professionally way back in the mid-1970s when he was in his twenties. While he was never an “A-lister,” Gary achieved something few actors ever do: he became the lead in a network television series. In this instance, it was Alien Nation, adapted from the movie of the same name, which ran for a single season on the then-fledgeling FOX network and was later named by TV Guide in 2013 as one of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon.” However, Gary went on to star in five made-for-TV Alien Nation sequel movies that aired throughout the 1990s. Gary played human detective Matthew Sikes.

Although you can see Gary’s full filmography on his IMDb page, Star Trek fans are most familiar with his portrayal of the Vulcan Ambassador Soval on all four seasons of Enterprise. Gary also appeared as an Ocampan in the second season Voyager episode “Cold Fire.” But Soval was the character that fans really embraced, which was one of the reasons that Soval was one of only three non-main characters to appear in all four seasons of Enterprise (along with JEFFREY COMBS’ Andorian Shran and MATT WINSTON’s temporal agent Daniels…and no, VAUGHN ARMSTRONG’s Admiral Forest did not appear in season three).

Soval was so popular that ALEC PETERS brought the character into PRELUDE TO AXANAR back in 2014 and again in THE VULCAN SCENE the following year, and Gary knocked it out of the park both times. His line, “An Andorian acquaintance once said, ‘Don’t push the pink-skins to the thin ice.’ It wasn’t very eloquent, but the Klingons found it to prove quite prophetic…” became a fan favorite quote thanks to Gary’s incredible delivery.

Around the same time, Gary was also doing other Star Trek fan films. His original character of the mercenary Ragnar (nothing like Soval!) debuted in STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN in 2007 and then returned in STAR TREK: RENEGADES in 2015 and then RENEGADES THE SERIES in 2017.

Gary wasn’t just a gifted actor, he was also a talented singer and songwriter, and his band, The Sons of Kirk, would occasionally perform at conventions like the 2016 Creation 50th anniversary of Star Trek con in Las Vegas…

Two years later, fans would donate $21K to help Gary and his band produce their first album. Sadly, the pandemic interrupted the project, and the album was never completed.

I met Gary in person in late 2018 at the first Axacon gathering at ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. And let me tell ya, Gary was a trip and a half…!

Gary Graham, Jonathan Lane, and J.G. Herzler

He appeared that weekend with fellow Star Trek and Axanar actor J.G. “General Martok”/”Sam Travis” HERTZLER. And I have to say, they were a totally wild duo! Alec put me in charge of interviewing them on a couple of panels about their work on Axanar, and to say both interviews went completely off the rails would be an understatement! The two men joked around, went on ridiculous tangents, and were just having the time of their lives (often at the expense of the poor interviewer trying to keep them focused). But it was an absolute hoot to spend so much quality time with the two of them and see both actors truly enjoying life, the mini-con, and each other’s company.

Of course, you might say, “So what? Lots of Star Trek actors have fun together on stage and off.” And that’s true. But what you might not be aware of is that these two fellows were on total polar opposite sides the political spectrum. J.G. Hertzler is about as liberal as they come and actually mounted a run for Congress in upstate New York on the Democratic ticket (he didn’t make it past the primary, however). Gary, on the other hand, was a passionate MAGA Republican, regularly submitting articles to the extreme right-wing website Breitbart. So really, these two actors should have been arguing constantly and going for each others’ throats (figuratively, of course, as a Klingon versus a Vulcan could get messy with bat-leths and lirpas).

Instead, they were best buds, laughing, clowning around, drinking like fish at the hotel bar, and generally making all the fans around them feel completely at ease (unless you were the one fan tasked with interviewing them…in which case, it was occasionally traumatizing). But seriously, my brief time with J.G. and Gary made for some of my most cherished memories as a fan.

As some readers know, Gary Graham announced in 2020, at the start of the lockdown, that he would not be returning to play Soval in the two Axanar sequels. There was no malice involved, and Gary said that he was still a fan of the project and wished everyone involved all the best. But then, in late 2023, it was revealed that Gary had decided to return to the Axanar project as Soval, and he recorded his lines at Ares Studios at a shoot this past summer. So Axanar, when it premieres later on in 2024 (hopefully!), will be Gary final performance on film as an actor.

As a fan of fan films, if lifts my heart slightly from its place of deep melancholy at the loss of Gary Graham to know that he gave us Trekkies one last precious glimpse of Soval before departing this planet.

I will end this eulogy with a quote from Gary that I got from his IMDb page. And in my opinion, it sums up the Gary Graham whom I met perfectly…

5 thoughts on “R.I.P. – GARY “AMBASSADOR SOVAL” GRAHAM (1950-2024)”

  1. Thank you for talking about Gary. We all pray for his family and friends during this time. I always enjoyed meeting Gary, he wasn’t a typical Hollywood star. He was down to earth and able to make you feel like the star.
    May your new journey be everything you want and deserve.

  2. Well, damn…now I’ll never know if we could have referred to each other by our surnames in a joking manner.

    May he rest well.

  3. Thank you for your wonderful tribute. I’m blessed to have been Gary Graham’s personal assistant at several conventions and as a result became a friend. I shall forever regret turning him down this past year to be at STLV Con due to prior commitments. I told him I’d do it next year. Now there is no next year. He was an amazing man who had an amazing life. He will be sorely missed. God Bless you my friend. My heartfelt condolences go out to all who knew him especially his family.

    1. I remember you hanging out with Gary at Axacon back in 2018, Lezlie. I always thought it was really cool that a fan could be a personal assistant to one of the Trek stars. Gary was a bright light who shined whenever he entered a room. I celebrate his life even as I mourn his loss. Thank you for your heartfelt comments, Lezlie.

  4. Jonathan, as usual, this was a heartfelt post. I am very glad that Gary is a part of the Axanar tapestry and will be remembered for his contributions in it and in all of his other works.

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