Star Trek at 50

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek. The original series aired its first episode, “The Man Trap” on September 8, 1966 on NBC. Fifty years, 79 episodes, five spin-off series, and thirteen movies later, Star Trek is an implacable cultural phenomenon that has touched the lives of countless people around the globe.

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Publicity photograph of Captain Kirk (William Shatner) locked in combat with a Gorn. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center.

The American Heritage Center holds the collections of several notable figures associated with the original Star Trek series, including series writer Gene L. Coon, composer Gerald Fried, and superfan Forrest Ackerman.

Gene L. Coon was a television writer and producer who wrote or contributed to thirteen Star Trek episodes. His papers at the AHC include scripts for “The Devil in the Dark” and “Metamorphosis.” His papers also include an incomplete memoir.

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Publicity photograph of Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center.

Gerald Fried was a film and television composer, who was known for scoring several early films of Stanley Kubrick, including Paths of Glory. For Star Trek, he composed the music for five episodes, including “Catspaw,” “The Paradise Syndrome,” “Friday’s Child” and “Shore Leave,” but his most enduring work on Star Trek is the “Vulcan fight music” from the episode “Amok Time.” Fried’s working titles for the fight music were “The Ancient Combat” and “The Ritual.”

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Fried’s original score of the “Vulcan fight music.” Gerald Fried papers, American Heritage Center.

Forrest Ackerman was a central figure in science fiction fandom from the 1940s through his death in 2008. His collection of Star Trek memorabilia includes production stills from the original series and the Motion Picture, as well as a tribble from the set of the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

Name the Tribble, Archives Month Contest

Original tribble. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center.

Other Star Trek-related collections held at the AHC include:

Sam Peeples – wrote the second pilot episode for the series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Robert Bloch – screenwriter of “Wolf in the Fold.”
Sol Kaplan – scored the episodes “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Enemy Within.”
Jerry Sohl wrote the teleplay for “The Corbomite Maneuver” and the story for “Whom Gods Destroy.” Notably, Sohl also wrote the scripts for two other Gene Roddenberry- conceived television shows: Genesis II, and The Questor Tapes. The scripts from these television movies are available in his collection at the AHC.

Everyone at the AHC wishes Star Trek a very happy golden anniversary!

About Tyler Cline

Digital Archivist and head of digital services at the UW American Heritage Center.
This entry was posted in science fiction, television history and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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