Gates McFadden brought compassion, intelligence, and warmth to her iconic portrayal of Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As the Enterprise’s chief medical officer from 1987 to 1994, Dr. Crusher became one of the most beloved characters among fans of the series. McFadden’s nuanced and emotive performance humanized the futuristic world of Star Trek, grounding the show in real human connection and emotion.
This article will take an in-depth look at McFadden’s early life, her varied entertainment career, and her enduring sci-fi legacy as Dr. Beverly Crusher. From choreographing muppets to pioneering women’s roles on television, McFadden has always gone boldly into creative frontiers.
Gates was born Cheryl Gates McFadden on March 2, 1949, in Akron, Ohio. She attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts and later attended L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France.
Information regarding her family is not readily available online.
Gates, who is credited by her first name, Cheryl, served as the director of choreography and puppet movement for both The Muppets Take Manhattan and Labyrinth in the 1980s.
Other choreography credits also include lots of stage work including Yesterday Is Over, Bumps and Knots, He Who Gets Sapped, Medea, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Her first “acting” role came in 1981 when she was kissed by Bill Murray in an episode of Saturday Night Live — though the role was uncredited.
In 1982, she played Mrs. Swift in Another World, as well as Tammy Dryden in The Edge of Night.
In 1984, she made the leap from daytime soap to film, starring as Mr. Price’s secretary in the Muppets Take Manhattan.
Gates had a steady career between 1981-1987, starring in Another World, The Muppets Take Manhattan, When Nature Calls, The Wizard, The Edge of Night, and the Cosby Show, in which it was Cliff’s 50th birthday party celebration.
She had bit roles on The Wizard and the Cosby Show before landing her most famous role as Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.
Gate’s breakout role was as Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.
In the series, Gates played Dr. Beverly Crusher. Beverly’s interest in medicine stemmed from her grandmother’s career. It was after the Arvada III disaster that her character decided to become a doctor.
She appeared in a total of 154 episodes, however, these only count for the first season and the third through the seventh. Gates was not a part of the show’s second season after clashing with head writer and showrunner, Maurice Hurley.
According to reports, Gates was reportedly unhappy with some of the writing on the show, calling it sexist. This led Hurley to ultimately let her go until his own departure from the show after the second season.
At the end of the second season, she was asked to come back to the show during the third season due to the Dr. Kathrine Pulaski character not getting over with fans. She remained on the show for the remainder of the series.
When she was first introduced on the show, the general reception was positive, with many fans liking her character, as well as the chemistry she shared with Captain Picard.
As such, it’s not surprising that fans of hers think the character she played was severely underutilized. A semi-recent Reddit post discussed this underutilization, claiming that her character was very poorly written, despite her real-life persona being vibrant, engaging, and extremely smart.
It was this love from her fan base, plus the persuasion of fellow cast members that led to her coming back for the third season.
Gates reprised her role as Dr. Beverly Crusher in several Star Trek films including Star Trek: Generations in 1994, Star Trek: First Contact in 1996, Star Trek: Insurrection in 1998, and Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002.
What Did She Do After Star Trek?
After Star Trek: The Next Generation ended, she continued working in television, appearing in minor roles on shows such as Mad About You, Crowned and Dangerous, The Handler, NCIS and Family Guy.
Gates continued acting through the 2000s, guest starring on The Division, The Handler, Family Guy, and Make the Yuletide Gay.
She appeared as Judge Mallory Jacobs in four episodes of Franklin & Bash between 2011-2013.
What is Gates McFadden Doing Now?
In 2023 Gates McFadden reprised her role as Dr. Beverly Crusher and has had a significant starring role in the third season of “Star Trek: Picard”
In a recent interview, McFadden discussed her return to the franchise in the third season of “Star Trek: Picard.” McFadden expressed her delight at the robust storyline her character was given, which revealed that Crusher and Picard had a child together, a fact she kept hidden from Picard. This child, Jack Crusher, plays a central role in the season’s plot, which involves the Borg and a rogue faction of Changelings infiltrating Starfleet.
McFadden shared her initial concerns about how fans might perceive Crusher’s decision to keep Picard in the dark about their son. However, she felt that the character’s actions were consistent with her ethical and humanist nature. She also expressed her satisfaction with the depth and complexity of Crusher’s character in this season, compared to her previous appearances in the franchise.
The interview also touched on the reunion of the original “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast on the reconstructed Enterprise-D, a moment McFadden described as special and reminiscent of home. Despite the long hours and the challenges of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the experience was enjoyable and that the cast remained close-knit.
Gates also launched her own podcast in May 2021 titled Gates McFadden InvestiGATES: Who Do You Think You Are?
This podcast features intimate conversations about career and personal life with her former co-stars and close friends, including William Shatner, Anson Mount, Kate Mulgrew, and many others.
Like many of her co-stars, Gates routinely attends Star Trek conventions. As of publication, she is scheduled to attend several upcoming comic cons including but not limited to GalaxyCon Richmond, 57-Year Mission Las Vegas, Huntsville Comic & Pop Culture Expo, and more.
Gates is currently on Cameo, a service in which you can hire celebrities to record a personalized video for you or your friends. Fans of hers can book a customized video for $180.
Gates is married to actor and producer, John Talbot. Talbot is known for starring in the 2001 film, The Score.
He served as executive producer of Hatchet County in 2012 and Bombshell Bloodbath in 2014.
(Gates McFadden and her son James Talbot)
Gates and John have one child together – a son named James McFadden Talbot who was born in 1991. He is a professional violinist and plays for the Louisville Orchestra.