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I–K Entries
Steve Ihnat
Michael Jackson
Russell Johnson
Tor Johnson
Nathan Juran
Boris Karloff
Buster Keaton
DeForest Kelley
Erle C. Kenton
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Stanley Kubrick
 
IHNAT, STEVE
(1934–1972). Czechoslovakian actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: "The Price of Doom" (1964), episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; "The Inheritors" (1964), two-part episode of The Outer Limits; "My Master the Rainmaker" (1966), episode of I Dream of Jeannie; In Like Flint (Gordon Douglas 1967); "The Astrologer" (1967), "The Mind of Stephan Miklos," "The Amnesiac" (1969), episodes of Mission Impossible; Countdown (Robert ALTMAN 1968); "Whom Gods Destroy" (1969), episode of Star Trek; Sweet, Sweet Rachel (tv movie) (Sutton Rolley 1971).
 
You may not remember the name, but anyone who watched American television during the 1960s will immediately recognize the face. Indeed, Steve Ihnat—distinctively tall, handsome, and broad-shouldered—might be regarded as the quintessential television guest star, who never had a series of his own but brought a commanding presence to innumerable episodes of other stars' programs, including The Big Valley, Bonanza, Daniel Boone, Death Valley Days, The F.B.I., The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, The Iron Horse, It Takes a Thief, Mannix, The Mod Squad, The Name of the Game, Perry Mason, Then Came Bronson, The Virginian, and The Young Rebels. Czech by birth and Canadian by upbringing, he had a flair for playing foreigners, but could easily portray an all-American boy as well. Ihnat displayed no special interest in science fiction, but nonetheless had an impact on the genre with his infrequent, but unforgettable, performances.

To science fiction enthusiasts, Ihnat is undoubtedly, and unfortunately, best known for his role in the Star Trek episode "Whom Gods Destroy," playing a charismatic madman with shape-changing abilities who almost seizes control of the Enterprise. While the story itself is the sort of meaningless melodrama that often marred the series' third season, it is amazing to observe how thoroughly Ihnat dominates the proceedings; just as "Space Seed" was Ricardo MONTALBAN's episode, "Whom Gods Destroy" is Ihnat's episode—and it is a tribute to both men's talents that I can recall no other Star Trek episodes in which star performers William SHATNER and Leonard NIMOY were so forcefully shoved to the sidelines.

Inhat was equally impressive in an episode of Mission: Impossible, "The Mind of Stephan Miklos," portraying an enemy agent as brilliant as anyone on Peter GRAVES's team who must be outwitted by one of their most convoluted schemes. The role, his second on the series, quickly earned him an invitation to return a third time, during the following season, for a rendezvous with the transplanted Nimoy, who had joined the series as master-of-disguise Paris. In a rare movie role, he also contributed admirably to the realistic professional atmosphere of Countdown.  However, Ihnat's most memorable performance came in a two-part episode of The Outer Limits, "The Inheritors," where he again outshone a capable competitor—a young Robert DUVALL—in portraying a soldier, turned into a genius by an alien implant, who conspires to kidnap some handicapped children and take them to the aliens' planet where, we are finally told, they will be cured to live happy lives. Persuasively sympathetic in an apparently villainous role, Ihnat made a slow-moving story strangely involving. Of course,not every Ihnat performance was a gem, but he can hardly be blamed for failing to excel in such dire circumstances as the series I Dream of Jeannie, the farcical spy film In Like Flint, and "The Price of Doom," the infamously mangled episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea which drove Harlan ELLISON to use his Cordwainer Bird pseudonym.

Though he excelled in all genres, Ihnat seemed to have a special affinity for westerns, and it was shortly after co-writing and directing a comedy about rodeo performers, The Honkers (1972), that he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the young age of thirty-eight. Perhaps all of those years of successfully struggling to steal the spotlight away from the stars of the show had finally taken their toll.

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