It was January 3, 1993, when the world was first introduced to “Constable Odo”, the beloved shapeshifter on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. Consummate actor Rene Auberjonois portrayed this fan-favorite character who mesmerized us with his almost co-dependent relationship with Quark as well as his mysterious background emanating from the new Federation threat, the Dominion. It was a seven-year ride on this incredible series which featured Star Trek’s first multi-episode story arcs. A few days ago we lost this amazing actor with well over 200 iMDb credits. He first came into the public eye from the long-running sitcom “Benson” but his storied career included appearances on genre shows and movies like “The Bionic Woman”, 1976 “King Kong”, 1979 “Wonder Woman”, “Batman Forever”, “Stargate SG-1” and as the voice of everyone’s favorite Chef Louis in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. His additional “Star Trek” contributions include the duplicitous Col. West in “Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country”, a guest star role on “Star Trek Enterprise” and as a director of numerous episodes of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.
KathE and Stephen Walker first brought Rene Auberjonois to Denver to be part of their September 1993 Starcon convention just eight months after the premiere of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. He regaled the audience with stories from the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” set and surprised everyone by singing “Les Poissons” from “The Little Mermaid” at the behest of a young fan!
I wasn’t to see Rene again until traveling to Las Vegas in August 2013 for “The Official Star Trek Las Vegas Convention”. It was the 25th anniversary of the show and Rene was joined on stage by fellow cast members Avery Brooks (“Captain Sisko”), Terry Farrell (“Jadzia Dax”), Cirroc Lofton (“Jake Sisko”), Nana Visitor (“Kira Nerys”), Armin Shimmerman (“Quark”), Michael Dorn (“Worf”), James Darren (“Vic Fontaine”) and Nicole de Boer (“Ezri Dax”) for the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 20th Anniversary Reunion Panel”. Highlights:
- Armin said it was an artistic challenge to bring so much to his Quark character but it was made much easier by the talent on the stage, especially the talent of Rene Auberjonois for developing Odo’s relationship with Quark.
- James Darren said his 1950s Vic Fontaine character loved to dispense relationship advice and tried to get Rene’s Odo and Nana’s Kira together.
- Michael Dorn said that Colm Meaney hated when he had to wear Klingon make-up exclaiming in his Irish brogue “look at me nails” and “look at me teeth”! Colm complained so much all week about prosthetic make-up that Michael asked them never to do that to him again! Armin said that Ferengi make-up was worse than Klingon make-up and worse than Rene’s Odo make-up.
- The cast paid homage to actress Majel Barrett who guest-starred as “Lwaxana Troi” on a few episodes of the series. Avery said he loved to hear Majel laugh and she had enormous spirit. Terry said that Majel once corrected her for calling her Mrs. Roddenberry and later felt so bad about it, she gave her a Faberge egg for Christmas! Rene Auberjonois said Majel and he spent many hours filming together while stuck in one of the station’s turbolifts and got married in another storyline! He recalled that Majel had “great joy in the work”.
- The majority of the “ST: DS9” cast came out on stage and everyone lined up for a “20th Anniversary ST-DS9 Reunion Photo Op” including Ira Steven Behr who said he wished Michael Piller was here to share this experience. Left to right in the photo: James Darren, Cirroc Lofton, Avery Brooks, Nicole de Boer, Terry Farrell, Rene Auberjonois, Jeffrey Combs (“Brunt” and “Weyoun”), Marc Alaimo (“Gul Dukat”), Max Grodenchik (“Rom”), Chase Masterson (“Leeta”), Aron Eisenberg (“Nog”), Nana Visitor, Casey Biggs (“Damar”), Armin Shimerman, Andrew Robinson (“Garak”), Michael Dorn and executive producer Ira Steven Behr!
I was later to meet Rene Auberjonois in an autograph line during the convention. He loved his fans and always treated all of us with great kindness. Over the years, Rene raised money for charities like Doctors Without Borders by sketching Odo’s Bucket cartoons for fans. I was more than happy to support Rene’s efforts!
The Walkers brought Rene Auberjonois back to Denver one last time for Starfest in April 2017. He was happy to sign a 9-inch Odo action figure for me and thoroughly entertained fans with a Q&A session on the Starfest Main Events Stage. Rene told the story that when he went to audition for the role of “Odo”, a casting person came out of the room and told him “nobody’s been grouchy enough!” So Rene’s first line during that audition was “Quark!” in a lower gravelly voice and he immediately landed the part! Once again Rene thrilled the audience by singing his classic song “Les Poissons” from “The Little Mermaid”. With that song, my wonderful experiences as a 25-year-fan of Rene Auberjonois came full circle. I’m happy to include the video segment I recorded. RIP Mr. Auberjonois.