Cheryl Gates McFadden has portrayed Beverly Crusher, MD, in most episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in four Star Trek films. McFadden also directed the TNG episode “Genesis” and choreographed the dance routine in “Data’s Day”.
McFadden left the series at the end of the first season and was replaced by Diana Muldaur as Doctor Katherine Pulaski in the second season. An official announcement states, that McFadden had left the series to pursue other career options. McFadden herself got a call from her agent who told her that the producers decided to go in another direction with the character. Like the other cast members, McFadden was surprised. (“Gates McFadden – Dr. Beverly Crusher”, The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 12, p. 43)
In Making It So: Continuing Star Trek – The Next Generation, Part 2: “New Life and New Civilizations,” McFadden states that she was fired. She was too vocal to the show’s staff regarding some of the writing on The Next Generation being sexist, and was unsavvy at the time regarding studio politics. Patrick Stewart described the entire cast as being “horrified and appalled,” that they had never expected that her comments would lead to it, and it having been a terrible shock. McFadden herself was stunned, as Gene Roddenberry had told her that her character was the third most popular on the series. Ultimately, she felt that the spoke her mind “in a way that really pissed people off” and it was a good lesson to learn.
But thanks to a letter-writing campaign, support from Stewart, and a personal invitation from Rick Berman, McFadden was brought back to the TNG cast for the third and subsequent seasons. McFadden was absent for all episodes of the second season, was mentioned in “The Child”, and only appeared in stock footage in “Shades of Gray” which was used from the first season episodes “Symbiosis” and “Skin of Evil”.
During her break from Star Trek, McFadden played Cathy Ryan (coincidentally another doctor with a husband named Jack) in the movie The Hunt for Red October, although most of her scenes were edited from the film. She returned to Manhattan for the break where she performed in a play and took up her pre-Trek teaching post in acting and improvisation at the New York University’s Graduate School of the Arts.
McFadden became pregnant with her first child during the fourth season of TNG, learning of the pregnancy only days after performing her own stunts for the episode “Remember Me”. This explains her absence during the last part of the season. Although the directors were able to hide her pregnancy behind objects and Crusher’s trademark lab coat, it was briefly visible in some episodes, including “The Host”. Her son was born over hiatus; Brent Spiner is his godfather. McFadden has been quoted as saying her son grew up on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D, and he was upset when the sets were torn down following Star Trek Generations.
Gates McFadden is an accomplished dancer and puppeteer; she worked on several Jim Henson productions as a choreographer, most notably in the film Labyrinth (she also choreographed movement for The Dark Crystal, and made her film acting debut in The Muppets Take Manhattan). She prefers stage roles to television, and has been seen in countless productions over her career. She is trained in stage swordfighting; ironically, only she and Marina Sirtis were trained in the technique which was featured in TNG: “Qpid” but only the male characters were allowed to use swords.
In 1992, McFadden appeared alongside fellow castmembers Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Colm Meaney in a production of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour directed by Stewart, which was performed in four cities. In 2011, McFadden began a recurring role as judge Mallory Jacobs on the legal comedy television series Franklin and Bash having her working again with Malcolm McDowell. McFadden debuted in the first season finale “Go Tell it on the Mountain” where as Jacobs, presided over the trial of Macdowell’s character Stanton Infeld. McFadden returned in the second season, first in “For Those About to Rock” joining Geoffrey Blake, Peter Weller and Tom Wright and again in the season finale “650 to SLC” reuniting with “Conundrum” guest star Erich Anderson. Anderson himself has a recurring role on the series.