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Laurence Luckinbill (1934–)
aka: Laurence George Luckinbill

Laurence George Luckinbill’s acting career extends through theater, television, and motion pictures. His career has ranged from soap operas to a Tony-nominated role in the play The Shadow Box (1977) and a co-starring role as Sybok in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989).

Laurence Luckinbill was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on November 21, 1934, to Laurence Benedict Luckinbill, a salesman for Oklahoma Tire and Supply Co., and Agnes Luckinbill. He graduated from St. Anne’s High School in Fort Smith and then attended Fort Smith Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith) before going to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), graduating in 1955 with a degree in theater. After this, he traveled to San Francisco, California, where he became involved with the Actor’s Workshop. He followed that with a brief stint in the chemical corps of the U.S. Army at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He attended Catholic University of America in Washington DC, earning an MFA in playwriting in 1958. After graduation, he served as a theater director, writer, and lecturer for the U.S. State Department in Africa and Italy for two years and put on numerous one-man shows, many of which he wrote himself.

Luckinbill made his Broadway debut in 1961 in A Man for All Seasons, which toured the United States. It was the first of his many Broadway appearances. Later that decade, Luckinbill began appearing in soap operas such as The Secret Storm and Where the Heart Is, both on CBS. His first movie role was in The Boys in the Band (1970), and his first starring role on television was in ABC’s short-lived The Delphi Bureau, which ran from 1972 to 1973. In this series, Luckinbill played Glenn Garth Gregory, a government intelligence agent who used his photographic memory to aid the top-secret Delphi Bureau’s counter-espionage pursuits. Following this, he had small but noteworthy parts in such series and television movies as Murder Impossible, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case before concentrating again on his stage work, appearing in Poor Murderer (1976–1977), The Shadow Box (1977), Chapter Two (1977–1979), and Past Tense (1980).

Luckinbill married actress Robin Strasser on November 19, 1966, and they had two sons. The couple later divorced. On June 22, 1980, he married Lucie Arnaz, daughter of actors Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; they had two sons and one daughter.

Luckinbill appeared in the 1988 movies Cocktail and Messenger of Death, but his most famous movie appearance was in the 1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In this movie, he played Sybok, the revolutionary half-brother of Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy), who takes control of the starship USS Enterprise to search for the planet that is home to God. The role was originally written for Sean Connery, and the name of the planet of Sybok’s quest, Sha Ka Ree, is a small reference to that fact.

Luckinbill has since appeared in television shows such as Law and Order and Murder She Wrote, played Herr Schultz in the revival of Cabaret in 1999, and done narration and voice-over work. Since 1987, he has written and performed five solo presentations featured on national television and in theaters around the globe: Lyndon (1987), Clarence Darrow Tonight! (1995), Teddy Tonight! (2002), Hemingway (2005), and The Abraham and Larry Show (2011). In 2007, Luckinbill was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. In 2012, he donated his papers to the Special Collections of the University of Arkansas, where he has served as the McIlroy Family Visiting Professor in Performing and Visual Arts.

For additional information:
Laurence Luckinbill. http://www.laurenceluckinbill.com/ (accessed September 8, 2016).

“Laurence Luckinbill.” Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=50308 (accessed September 8, 2016).

“Laurence Luckinbill.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0524743/ (accessed September 8, 2016).

“Laurence Luckinbill.” Turner Classic Movies. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/participant.jsp?spid=117301&apid=96051 (accessed September 8, 2016).

“Laurence Luckinbill: TV Star, Writer.” Springdale News, April 22, 1973, p. 2.

Wolf, William. “‘Secret Storm’ Cast Includes Arkansan.” Arkansas Democrat Magazine. June 23, 1968, pp. 1–2.

Guy Lancaster
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 9/8/2016

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