In Step With


by James Brady

Parade Magazine 

July 14, 1996


Born April 29, 1955, in Dubuque, Iowa. 

Married to Robert Egan, 1982-93. Two sons; Ian, 13 and Alexander, 12


Includes Ryan's Hope, 1975-77, 1985; Kate Loves a Mystery, 1979; The Manions of America, 1981; Cheers, 1986; Roots: The Gift, 1988; Heartbeat, 1988-89; Fatal Friendship, 1991; Danielle Steel's 'Daddy', 1991; Man of the People, 1991; Murphy Brown, 1992; Star Trek: Voyager, 1995-


Include: A Stranger Is Watching, 1982; Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, 1985; Throw Momma From the Train, 1987. 


Includes: Our Town, 1975; Measure for Measure, 1984; Titus Andronicus, 1989; Aristocrats, 1989.

First there was Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, an American male. (Actually, first came Captain Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter in the 1965 pilot.) Later came Captain Picard, a French chap played by a Brit (Patrick Stewart). Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks), who is black, followed. And Star Trek's senior authority figure since last year has been a women--Capt. Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew. Whom I asked: "If and when the series calls for a new captain, who might it be?" 

Said Kate: "If this goes on--though I think it will end after Voyager [the current spaceship], I think there will be [another] change of race. An Asian or a black." 

When I arrived at Ms. Mulgrew's hotel room, she had just wrapped her second season on Star Trek. What would she be doing during the summer hiatus? "I'm a mother of two sons who feel my absence keenly," she said. "They're 12 and 13. My younger son appreciates the show more. My older has distanced himself somewhat--do they call it puberty?" she said with  a grin. So it'll be family time with the boys, some promotional chores and a trip to Dubuque to visit her parents. 

TV is such a chancey business--stardom today, unemployment lines tomorrow. Not this time for Kate. "I have a five-year contract with three years to go," she said. "Shatner had only three seasons. Stewart went-what?-seven season? I've met both. Got along? Of course. I've found successful men to be extremely gracious." 

The work itself is hard. "On Star Trek, it's an 18-hour day, five days a week," said Kate. She compared it to sitcoms, "which have a schedule of eight hours a day--tops!" (Kate was featured on Cheers and Murphy Brown.) 

Kate gives the impression of being taller, but she told me she's 5 feet 5 and 110 pounds. I asked about her marital status and got a clipped response: "I'm not married". She was more forthcoming about her boys: "They're athletic. The younger one is a soccer all-star. The older plays basketball." 

Long before Star Trek, Kate was on the soap Ryan's Hope, "I was 19 or 20", she recalled. "On the very same day I was offered Ryan's Hope and Our Town onstage with Fred Gwynne, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Eileen Heckart, and myself as 'Emily'. I thought I'd died and went to heaven. I was living in New York in a fifth-floor walkup at the most miserable time in my life and then that phone call came." 

Ms. Mulgrew also starred in Kate Loves a Mystery, a spinoff of Columbo, the great Peter Falk detective series. "I wasn't sophisticated enough to realize what I was in for," she said. "It wasn't a success. Peter was in none of  [the episodes]. He was gracious, but he was not in them."

Brady's Bits:

On Cheers, Kate was in a few episodes as a Boston councilwomen having a bit of a fling with Ted Danson's 'Sam.' "Shelly [Long] was leaving, and they may have been looking at me as a replacement, but I didn't want to do another sitcom," said Kate. "On Murphy Brown, I played an alcoholic. They're very clever on that show. They take chances." Kate said she's Irish on both sides of the family: "We were Mulgrews and Kiernans. My father was a contractor in blacktop and the bridge business. My mother was a painter and raised eight children. I was the oldest girl and second overall." Does Kate think one day people really will be zooming around from planet to planet, star to star? "That's like asking, 'Do you believe in God?'" she replied. "My only answer is, 'I don't  know--or, I hope so.' When I got this role, I began to read a lot--even Einstein [who held that time and space wre relative] and Star Trek paraphernalia. [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry made this thing so viable and such a sheer  success that people of any erudition supect we are not alone."