'Star Trek's Best Captain Is ... Scotty?
For as long as there have been chat rooms and Comic-Con back alleys, sci-fi fans have been duking it out over who's the best captain on Star Trek: Kirk versus Picard versus Crusher. But all that petty squabbling is pointless as there is only one captain on Star Trek, Captain James "Scotty" Doohan.
The above clip references the infamous Tribbles episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, one of the worst episodes in television history. It's also one of the only episodes where Kelpian-eyed viewers can spot that James Doohan, the actor playing Chief Excruciating Accent Officer Scotty, appears to be missing a digit on his right hand. What had happened to his middle finger? According to Doohan, he gave it to Hitler.
At the age of 19, James Doohan kissed his parents goodbye, tucked away his brother's lucky silver cigarette case, and left to fight World War II. A Vancouver boy, he joined the Royal Canadian Artillery, where he beamed through the ranks and quickly made lieutenant. On D-Day, Lt. Doohan led a unit of 3rd Canadian Infantry as they apologetically stormed Juno Beach. His further exploits in the army included running across an anti-tank minefield that he was juuuuuust light enough for not to trigger, killing two German snipers, seeing a tank explode containing several of his mates (and a small fortune in card winnings), and being taught to do a Scottish accent by a British soldier.
And that was all in a single day! At 11:30 PM on D-Day, Doohan was badly wounded by a barrage of bullets returning from a forward operation. His attacker wasn't a German ambusher but a spooked Canadian sentry who didn't realize his Bren Gun was set to "kill." One of the bullets struck Doohan in the chest, another went through his finger, and he had hiked a quarter-mile to a medic tent before someone told him he also had four slugs in his left leg. Doohan was also informed that the bullet to the chest should have killed him. Fortunately, it had been stopped by the silver cigarette case he kept in his jacket.
When Doohan recovered, he returned to the war as a captain and a pilot. "The craziest pilot in the world," according to his squadmates, who once saw him almost crash into Holland trying to get an up-close look at an enemy U-boat -- Maverick style. After the war, Doohan returned home until he won a scholarship to a prestigious New York conservatory where he decided to become an actor, reasoning that if he could survive D-Day, six bullets and losing a finger, he could probably survive the audition process.
So why would a proud Starfleet officer hide an actual war wound? When Doohan landed the part as Scotty on Star Trek, the actor came to an agreement with Gene Roddenberry that they would always film him so as not to show his right hand, sometimes going so far as having Eddie Paskey, who played Scotty's subordinate Lt. Leslie, to act as his literal right-hand man during closeups.
This wasn't because Doohan was ashamed. He simply reasoned that having a missing digit in a world where machines regrow organ tissue faster than they can deliver soft-serve didn't make a lot of sense. While Doohan would forever be famous as the ten-fingered Scotty, it would be remiss to not also admire him as the nine-fingered decorated soldier, pilot, and astronaut -- posthumously. When Captain Doohan died in 2005, his ashes were smuggled aboard the International Space Station's Columbus module and shot into space so a part of him could forever be among the stars. But not his right middle finger. It's still in hell with Hitler.
Cedric is Team Acting Captain Crusher for life, and you can yell at him about it on Twitter.
Top Image: CBS