Doug Grindstaff, Creator of Iconic Sounds of 'Star Trek,' Dies at 87

Doug Grindstaff, the Emmy-winning sound designer behind some of the iconic sounds from Star Trek history, has passed away at the age of 87.

His family announced that Grindstaff died on July 23rd in Peoria, Arizona (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Grindstaff worked on Star Trek: The Original Series and designed the sound the communicators on the series make when activated, the coos that come from Tribbles, and more.

Grindstaff worked with Jack Finlay and Joseph Sorokin on Star Trek. Together they created the background sounds for the iconic series, including the iconic red alert klaxon and the sound the doors make when they slide open. They also developed the sounds of space battle in the Star Trek universe, transporter materialization, and sickbay scanners.

In a 2016 interview with Audible Range, Grindstaff discussed working with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

"And he wanted sounds everywhere. One time I asked him, 'Don't you think we're getting too cartoony?' Because I felt it should be a little more dignified, but he wanted sound for everything. For example, I worked on one scene where [Dr. McCoy] is giving someone a shot. Gene says, 'Doug, I'm missing one thing. The doctor injects him and I don't hear the shot.' I said, 'You wouldn't hear a shot, Gene.' He said, 'No, no, this is Star Trek, we want a sound for it.'

"So I turned around to the mixing panel and said, 'Do you guys have an air compressor?' And they did. I fired up the air compressor, squirted it for a long enough period by the mic, went upstairs, played with it a little bit and then put it in the show. And Gene loved it. So, that's how Gene was. He didn't miss nothing!"

Grindstaff was a vice president at Lorimar-Telepictures. He was the head of sound departs at Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Pacific Sound. He was also president of the Motion Picture Sound Editors, an organization that honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and was on the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Grindstaff's careers spanned five decades. His credits include work on Mannix, Mission: Impossible, The Odd Couple, The Brady Bunch, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Dallas and Fantasy Island.

Over the course of his career, Grindstaff earned 14 Emmy nominations including one for his work on Star Trek. He won the Emmy Award in 1970 for his work on The Immortal, in 1976 for Medical Story, in 1978 for Police Story, in 1980 for Power, and in 1987 for Max Headroom.