Let’s begin this article at an ending. It’s a sad ending, admittedly, but the silver lining is that without it, we fans might not be here today celebrating Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.
Fade Out: The End
Star Trek: The Original Series was cancelled in 1969. It was a terrific show, as we all know, but the cost-benefit ratio then simply didn’t warrant its continuation, despite the protestations of its producer and fans. And when the series was ended, to add insult to injury, it was treated like all the other shows of the time. That is, Paramount Studios (the owners of the Star Trek television property back then) dismantled and/or scattered many of Star Trek’s assets – its sets, production materials, everything – as they saw fit. A few things were kept safe and sound, potentially for future use, but much of it was deemed junk.
For example, although some of the original film generated for the series was archived by the studio, a lot of it was considered to be trash and moved to either the Lincoln Enterprises company for dicing into individual frames or to that large square bin that got emptied regularly by the garbage collector. (Ah, the wonderful tales our friends tell us today of their dumpster-diving finds from 1969).
Likewise, a lot of the TOS props and sets were struck and/or discarded when the series got the ax. Witness the poor Galileo shuttlecraft: its exterior eventually wound up as a lawn ornament for someone’s home.
(Don’t cry for the Galileo, though. Through the heroic efforts of some dedicated folks, it’s been restored to its original condition and now rests safely at Space Center Houston, http://spacecenter.org/attractions/galileo-shuttlecraft/)
And what about the other production materials for the series, e.g., the scripts, memos, shooting schedules, notes and publicity photos? Some of these were taken home by the cast and crew, some were placed into private collections or public libraries, and some were… thrown away.
So, and in summary, the ending of this particular tale is that a lot of the material used to make TOS was seemingly distributed to the n-dimensional corners of the universe and/or destroyed when the series was cancelled. There was no malice intended at the time, of course, because the plain truth is that few people then realized that Star Trek would go on to become a world-wide phenomenon. Simply, not many people thought in 1969 that fans and historians would be clamoring someday for all of these artifacts in order to see them, study them, and enjoy them. (If we only had a Guardian of Forever app…)
But let’s stop now with the gloominess. Let’s pause this story and transition to one that’s happier. But to do so, though, we first need to ask some questions.
Is this all there is? Is there nothing more?
Okay, so a lot of Star Trek’s assets got scattered and lost. Who cares? Or, to ask this in a different way, what more is there to learn and see concerning the original series? Hasn’t everything by now, in 2016, already been catalogued, written about and displayed?
Well, certainly, over the last several decades there have been some outstanding non-fiction books written about the original series. In no particular order there’s been The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Star Trek Compendium by Allan Asherman, Star Trek Concordance by Dorothy Jones and Bjo Trimble, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, The Music of Star Trek by Jeff Bond, Star Trek Sketchbook–The Original Series by Herbert F. Solow and Yvonne Fern Solow, and Star Trek: The Original Series 365 by Paula M. Block with Terry J. Erdmann, to name just a few. These books have each highlighted and showcased various facets of the original series and each has made a unique contribution to the production and history of the show.
But, and restating the questions just asked, wouldn’t you think that the history of the original series has already been fairly well documented given all these books? What else can there be to find and study? Well, surprisingly, a lot of things. There are still many holes to be filled, treasures to be found, and new information to be unveiled. For example:
• Where are all the deleted scenes and bloopers from the episodes? Are there still rolls of film “out there” with unseen TOS shots waiting to be shown?
• What’s the story behind the press releases for TOS and what’s happened to the thousands of photos that were taken for them?
• What happened to the original preview trailers for the episodes? What did they look like?
• Have all the drafts of the scripts for all the episodes been discovered and analyzed?We’re hopeful that many of the above questions can be addressed, given enough persistence and time, but finding their answers today can be challenging because of what happened when the original series was cancelled. That is, and as we said earlier, much of the original material was scattered or lost and there’s no one-stop shop to go to to find it. (We should point out that there are some large archives around that contain historical information from TOS, such as the Gene Roddenberry and Robert Justman collections at the UCLA libraries, the Gene L. Coon papers at the University of Wyoming, the CBS archives, and the Roddenberry.com collection. These are all terrific resources, but they’re incomplete for a variety of different reasons).
We’re also hopeful that there are still unknown and unseen artifacts and ephemera hiding in various places, waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. And why are we hopeful?
The answer to that question, our last one, brings us to the end of this article and the beginning of our teaser.
Fade In: Teaser
Over the last several decades, we’ve been sleuthing for the aforementioned unseen and “lost” Star Trek items – i.e., rolls of film, film frames (clips), press materials, scripts, home movies and photos – in an effort to restore, study, archive and bring this material to the light of day and, ultimately, to you — the fans. And, fortunately, we’ve been having some modest success. We’ve been finding these items in shoeboxes hidden under beds, in moldy storage lockers, at crowded estate sales, in hot attics, through generous donations, and in many other “interesting” places.
Notice that we said that we want to illuminate these rare materials. Yes, indeed. In celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, we’ll be sharing here some of the artifacts from our personal collections of TOS memorabilia and discussing their history and significance. We’ll do our best to show you some never-before-seen items, or, at the very least, some rarely seen gems, that we hope you enjoy.
And that’s it, we’re finished for now. Teasers are typically short and this one’s no exception. So, as they used to say regularly when television channel knobs were rotary and made clicking noises, please stay tuned. We’ll be back after the break, and then we’ll fill this space with some old and unseen TOS goodness.
David Tilotta is a professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC and works in the areas of chemistry and sustainable materials technology. You can email David at firstname.lastname@example.org. Curt McAloney is an accomplished graphic artist with extensive experience in multimedia, Internet and print design. He resides in a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and can be contacted at email@example.com. Together, Curt and David work on startrekhistory.com. Their Star Trek work has appeared in the Star Trek Magazine and Star Trek: The Original Series 365 by Paula M. Block with Terry J. Edrmann.
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