Happy birthday, Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana. One of the most-important figures in Star Trek and a trailblazer as a woman in the entertainment industry, Fontana celebrates her big day today, March 25th. StarTrek.com, to mark the occasion is pleased to share 7 Things You Should Know About D.C. Fontana.
And Her Real Name Is…
Though she goes by D.C. Fontana, her real name is Dorothy Catherine Fontana.
Among Her Pseudonyms…
Fontana ventured out to L.A. to become a writer in the late 1950s. There were not many female writers at the time, or at least those who received either credit or proper credit. In addition to D.C. Fontana, she went by the more masculine pseudonyms J. Michael Bingham and Michael Richards (after her brothers, Michael and Richard).
Did You Know…?
Fontana was there right at the very beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series. Though she subsequently lent her talents to many other programs, spanning from Bonanza and The Six Million Dollar Man to The Waltons and Babylon 5, Fontana returned to the Trek fold for numerous ensuing ventures, including The Animated Series (serving as story editor and associate producer), The Next Generation (she co-wrote the series’ premiere “Encounter at Farpoint”) and Deep Space Nine (“Dax”). Also on the Trek front, she penned a novel (Vulcan’s Glory), a comic book (Star Trek: Year Four – The Enterprise Experiment), several video games (Bridge Commander, Tactical Assault) and an episode of Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II (“To Serve All My Days”).
The Secretary Story Isn’t quite Accurate…
There’s a lingering perception that Fontana was Gene Roddenberry’s secretary and worked her way up to writer, which is not the case. She addressed the matter in a 2013 interview with StarTrek.com. “History here – most people ignore the fact that I was a writer before Star Trek,” she said. “Between 1960 and 1963, while working for Samuel A. Peeples, I sold two stories and two scripts (produced) to The Tall Man series, done a rewrite on a Shotgun Slade script (produced) and sold a story of Frontier Circus (produced). In 1963, Samuel A. Peeples left MGM (where he had written a movie script) to move on to other projects, and I decided to stay at the studio. I saw an ad on the job board for a position as secretary to the Associate Producer of a new show called The Lieutenant (created and produced by Roddenberry). I applied for the job and was hired to be production secretary to Del Reisman on the show – which is how I met Roddenberry. When his secretary was in the hospital for two months due to complications from an appendectomy, I worked directly for Roddenberry. He came to know I had already written produced television material. When The Lieutenant came to an end, Roddenberry started trying to sell Star Trek around town. (MGM/Norman Felton had already said “no” to doing it. Guess how many times they’ve kicked themselves around the block about THAT decision?) When Star Trek sold to Desilu, Gene asked me to come to work there as his production secretary.
“From 1964 through the making of two Star Trek pilots, plus two other pilots Roddenberry produced, to beginning of Star Trek production in 1966, I wrote a script for Ben Casey (produced), Slattery’s People (bought but not produced as the series was cancelled) and The Road West (produced). So when we came to production on Star Trek‘s first season, Roddenberry assigned me to pick one of the stories in the bible and write the script. I chose “Charlie X,” and that was the start of my science fiction writing. I was far from being a novice writer, and Star Trek was not my first credit – far from it.”
Especially Fond of “Journey to Babel”
Of all the Trek episode to bear Fontana’s name, she remains particular satisfied with “Journey to Babel,” which advanced Spock’s story and background and built on a line from “This Side of Paradise” in which Spock referred to his “As we entered the second season of Star Trek, it was clear Spock was an important and popular character, and I wanted to explore who he was as a half-Vulcan half-human and what had made him that way,” Fontana told StarTrek.com. “It has also turned out to be a very popular episode with the fans, for which I am most appreciative.”
35 Years and Counting
Fontana has been married to Dennis Skotak since 1981. Skotak (with his brother Robert) is an Oscar-winning visual effects artist whose credits include Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, X-Men 2, Aliens, The Pagemaster (with Patrick Stewart) and Starship Troopers 3: Marauders (which starred Jolene Blalock).
At the End of the Day…
Fontana, asked by StarTrek.com what she considers her greatest contribution to Star Trek, replied, “Primarily the development of Spock as a character and Vulcan as a history/background/culture from which he sprang.”
Please join us in wishing Fontana a happy birthday!
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