'Star Trek' Writer-Producer John DF Black Dies at 85

John DF Black, a writer, producer, and story editor on Star Trek: The Original Series has passed away. He was 85.

The official Star Trek website reports that Black passed away of natural causes in California on November 29th. The news was confirmed by Black’s wife, Mary Black, and revealed by Black’s publisher, Jacobs/Brown Press.

Black has one solo Star Trek writing credit to his name. He wrote the teleplay for “The Nake Time,” a season one episode that was key in establishing the character of Spock as played by Leonard Nimoy. The episode earned Black a Hugo Award nomination.

Using the pseudonym Ralph Willis, Black returned to Star Trek to write the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Justice” in the show’s first season. He also received a “story by” credit for Next Generation’s “The Naked Now,” a spiritual sequel to “The Naked Time.”

“The Naked Now” was the fourth episode of Star Trek: The Original Series to air and is memorable for being the first time that the Vulcan nerve pinch appeared on screen (Spock’s signature maneuver was first filmed in the episode “The Enemy Within,” but the episodes aired out of order, with “The Enemy Within” premiering the week after “The Naked Time”).

The plot of “The Naked Time” saw the crew of the USS Enterprise infected with a contagion that stripped them of their inhibitions, leading to chaos throughout the ship. “The Naked Now,” based on an unfinished teleplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, was only the second episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It follows up on The Original Series episode with the crew of the USS Enterprise-D contracting an affliction that is very similar to the one that James Kirk’s crew encountered 100 years earlier.

Black provided commentary on the 50 Years of Star Trek and Star Trek: Inside the Roddenberry Vault home media releases.

Outside of the Star Trek realm, Black’s writing credits include work on The Unearthly, Lawman, Mr. Novak, Laredo, the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman pilot (which he also co-produced), The Fugitive, Mary Tyler Moore, Shaft, The Carey Treatment, Man from Atlantis, Charlie's Angels, The Clone Master and Murder, She Wrote. He also directed an episode of Charlie's Angels.


In 1972, Black won an Edgar Award from the Writers Guild of America for Best Television Feature or Miniseries Teleplay for his script for the television movie Thief.

Black is survived by his wife Mary, who worked as his executive secretary on Star Trek: The Original Series, as well as his two sons.