Star Trek Archivist Richard Arnold Dies at 66

Richard Arnold -- formerly Gene Roddenberry's assistant who became a consultant and archivist for Star Trek -- has died at the age of 66. The official Star Trek Twitter account confirmed the news, tweeting out, "We are saddened to report the passing of Richard Arnold. Arnold made his mark on the #StarTrekUniverse as Gene Roddenberry's assistant and the Star Trek archivist. He will be greatly missed. #StarTrekFamily #StarTrek" Arnold met Roddenberry at a convention in 1972. After impressing Roddenberry with his knowledge of Star Trek trivia, he then moved to Los Angeles and started working as Roddenberry's assistant. His duties included vetting licensed Star Trek products on Roddenberry's behalf. He continued in that role until Roddenberry died in 1991.

"I read all the scripts, read all the books," Arnold said in a 2017 interview at The Continuing Voyage convention. "Just to keep it to what was established, because there was so much already, just from the original series. The books didn't count, the comics didn't count, the games didn't count. It was only what we'd seen on screen, and even Gene was sort of [ambivalent] about the third season of the original series, which he didn't personally produce, and the animated series — he did that at the time because, he said, he needed the money, but once things started happening again with the live action he kind of regretted it, so he said that didn't exist."

Arnold earned a reputation among the writers working on Star Trek tie-ins for revoking stories or demanding changes for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Arnold disputed those claims, maintaining that he never had sole control over what licensed Star Trek stories did or did not see the light of day, but that he worked with Roddenberry in going through the stories. He believed that the writers were not used to answering to an editor and blamed him publicly because he was a safer target than the beloved Roddenberry.

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In total, Arnold was credited as a research consultant on 66 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For years, he wrote a column in Star Trek: Communicator, the old Star Trek fan club magazine. He also had cameo appearances in two Star Trek movies. He was an Enterprise crew member in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and a Romulan science tech in 2009's Star Trek. He also appears in the documentaries Trekkies and Trekkies 2, helmed by Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Denise Crosby.