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Lawyer to the stars

What Star Trek guest star was the defense attorney for Jack Ruby?


We asked what Star Trek guest star was famous for representing gangster Jack Ruby, the man who shot the accused John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

The lawyer in question is Hollywood legend Melvin Belli, who managed to keep Jack Ruby off death row after Ruby shot Oswald in a Dallas parking garage on live national TV on Nov. 24, 1963. Almost five years later, Belli appeared in the original Star Trek episode, "And the Children Shall Lead." Belli portrayed the nefarious Gorgan, who convinced a group of children to take control of the Enterprise.

Prior to the Ruby trial and his Star Trek appearance, Belli was no stranger to the courtroom or to Hollywood. Indeed, in legal circles, Belli had a reputation as one of the original "celebrity lawyers," due to his representation of famous Hollywood stars—including the Rolling Stones, Errol Flynn, Alex Haley, and Muhammad Ali—as well as his notorious pursuit of multimillion-dollar personal injury awards and settlements.

Belli's nicknames include the "King of Torts" for his popularization of lawsuits as well as "The Father of Demonstrative Evidence" for his famously theatrical presentation of courtroom evidence.

Belli cofounded the American Trial Lawyers Association, and his legal practice continues even after his death in 1996. Although his acting credits are sparse—and perhaps none are as famous as his Star Trek appearance—they help ensure Belli's place in both trivia and history.

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