Star Trek's D.C. Fontana Dies at 80

Founding Star Trek writer Dorothy Catherine “D.C.” Fontana has died. She was 80 years old and died after a brief illness. Fontana was one of the key writers who worked on Star Trek: The Original Series in the 1960s, helping to bring Gene Roddenberry’s vision to life. She wrote or co-wrote 10 episodes of The Original Series, including “Charlie X,” "Tomorrow is Yesterday," “The Side of Paradise," "Friday's Child," “Journey to Babel," "By Any Other Name," "The Ultimate Computer," “The Enterprise Incident," "That Which Survives," and "The Way to Eden." She also wrote the episode “Yesteryear" of Star Trek: The Animated Series, worked on five episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation including its pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint," as well as "The Naked Now," "Lonely Among Us," "Too Short a Season," and "Heart of Glory," and co-wrote the teleplay for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Dax."

As a woman working in television in the 1960s, especially in science fiction, Fontana was a trailblazer. She both wrote for and produced Star Trek while being credited as “D.C. Fontana,” keeping her gender a secret until her photograph appeared in Stephen Whitfield’s book The Making of Star Trek in 1968.

"At the time, I wasn't especially aware there were so few female writers doing action-adventure scripts," Fontana told StarTrek.com in a 2013 interview. "There were plenty doing soaps, comedies, or on variety shows. By choosing to do action-adventure, I was in an elite, very talented and very different group of women writers.

"'How seriously was I taken by Gene and the ST writing staff' is not an applicable question. There was no 'writing staff' as there are today. There was Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon primarily. John D.F. Black and Steve Karabatsos were the two story editors I also worked with (one after the other), but it was primarily me writing and turning in my material to the two Genes and to John or Steve - before I became the story editor. We always worked pretty much one-on-one, and I was given the same consideration as any other writer who came through the door with a good story and delivering a solid script."

Fontana’s work on “Journey to Babel” created the backstory for Mr. Spock. She expanded on that history in “Yesteryear,” revealing more of Spock’s youth and family life.

Outside of Star Trek, her credits include The ABC Afternoon Playbreak, The Questor Tapes, and Logan's Run. Fontana was a senior lecturer at the American Film Institute, teaching screenwriters, producers, and directors.

0comments

Fontana was born in New Jersey in 1939. She's survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer Dennis Skotak. Memorial donations can be sent to the Humane Society, Best Friends Animal Society, and the American Film Institute.

Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images