Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star René Auberjonois has died. The actor was 79 years old. Auberjonois' son, Remy-Luc Auberjonois, tells The Associated Press that his father died from metastatic lung cancer on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. While Auberjonois is known to Star Trek fans for playing Odo, the changeling security chief on Deep Space Nine's titular space station, his career also includes roles on the shows Benson and Boston Legal and playing Father Mulcahy in the 1970 film M*A*S*H. He also voiced Chef Louis in Disney's The Little Mermaid, singing the "Les Poissons," and voiced The Skull in The Last Unicorn.
In addition to playing Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Auberjonois directed eight episodes of the series: "Prophet Motive," "Family Business," "Hippocratic Oath," "The Quickening," "Let He Who Is Without Sin...," "Ferengi Love Song," "Waltz," and "Strange Bedfellows." Auberjonois also has an uncredited role as Colonel West in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (his scenes were cut from the theatrical release and restored in the home media releases) and played the character Ezral in Star Trek: Enterprise.
As Odo, he was an all-business security officer keeping the Ferengi bartender, Quark, in line and harboring secret feelings for his co-worker, Kira. He was also alone the universe, knowing no other changelings. At the end of the series, he left his life on Deep Space 9 behind to rejoin his people. In a 2011 interview with StarTrek.com, Auberjonois looked back on how Odo's story ended.
"If anything could be called inevitable in a series as out-of-this-world as Deep Space Nine, that was inevitable,," he said. "The one thing I knew, by the time we’d explored the relationship with Kira and started to know who the Founders were, was that that had to be the way it was going to end for them and for Odo specifically. So I was completely satisfied with it because I thought, 'This is the way it has to be.' It’s the classic, poignant ending. It’s people making great sacrifices for the greater good. And while I may say that the writers didn’t anticipate that he’d be saying goodbye to Kira in the end, I have a feeling that in the large scheme of things the writers knew that they’d eventually be saying goodbye to Odo, that he’d be returning to the Great Link. That was the very purpose. It’s why he was sent out by his 'people.' He was sent out on a paranoid mission to protect them, to be an advance guard, to be the canary in the mine, so to speak. So it just had to be that he would ultimately be the creature that would return to his world to bring it back to sanity and to stop this terrible paranoid destruction. So I thought it was perfect, it was great."
Auberjonois is survived by his wife, writer Judith Auberjonois, who he married 56 years ago, his sisters Marie-Laure Degener and Anne Auberjonois; his son Remy-Luc Auberjonois, his daughter Tessa Auberjonois, his son-in-law Adrian Latourelle, his daughter-in-law Kate Nowlin, and his three grandchildren.
Cover Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images and CBS