Anton Yelchin, ‘Star Trek’s’ Pavel Chekov, dead at 27

Anton Yelchin, ‘Star Trek’s’ Pavel Chekov, dead at 27

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Anton Yelchin, notable for key roles in “Terminator: Salvation” and the rebooted “Star Trek” film franchise, apparently killed in freak auto accident.

Actor Anton Yelchin, and his best-known character, Pavel Chekov. (Composite by Terry Ponick. Original images via Facebook entry on Yelchin and Paramount Pictures "Star Trek" PR image)

LOS ANGELES, June 19, 2016 – Russian-born Hollywood actor Anton Yelchin—notable for his impressive re-creation of the role of ensign-navigator Pavel Chekov in the re-booted “Star Trek” film franchise—died Saturday, June 18, 2016 as a result of what appears to have been a tragic, freak auto accident. He was 27.

In a prepared statement, Yelchin’s publicist, Jennifer Allen, stated, “Actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a fatal traffic collision early this morning. His family requests you respect their privacy at this time.”

However, according to a number of sources, the actual story, at least as of the noon hour Sunday, is somewhat more mysterious, according to several sources.

Apparently, on June 18, Yelchin was scheduled to meet with friends for a rehearsal. When he failed to show up, his friends went to check on him at his San Fernando Valley home where they discovered him pinned between his still-running car and a brick wall. The site is on an incline and the car was still in neutral. He was later pronounced dead by officials, likely due to fatal crush injuries. Law enforcement officials do not suspect foul play.

Although he had appeared in earlier TV and film roles, Yelchin caught the public eye in a big way when he co-starred in a pair of notable 2009 science fiction films, portraying a teenaged Kyle Reese in “Terminator Salvation” and youthful ensign-navigator Pavel Chekov in Paramount’s highly successful re-boot of its eponymous “Star Trek” franchise, whose latest installment—“Star Trek Beyond”—is slated to appear on the silver screen later this summer, once again with Yelchin in the role of Chekov.

Yelchin had an intriguing show-business backstory. He was born in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) to parents who had long been stars in the then-Soviet Union’s popular Ice Ballet. That same year, however, they managed to emigrate to the U.S., claiming political refugee status, due, apparently, to fears of KGB surveillance as well as their status as Jews.

Relocating to California, Irina and Viktor Yelchin continued to work in their profession, the former as an ice choreographer, the latter as a notable skating coach.

Anton attended school locally, and was attracted to acting as well, working as a child star in several films before eventually enrolling in the University of Southern California in 2007 to study film. He also enjoyed pop and acoustic blues music and was once a guitarist with The Hammerheads, a now-defunct punk band.

As of this writing, final arrangements for Anton Yelchin have not yet been announced.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17