Welcome! As part of its ongoing mission to document the Art and Production History of Star Trek, this site will present technical articles on Star Trek prop and costume authentication - focusing on The Original Series - with detailed photos and episode screenshots to complement the information presented; as well as feature pictorials to showcase Star Trek memorabilia in private & public collections, present rare Behind The Scenes TOS imagery & discuss other topics.
Gerald Gurian is a 40+ year collector of screen used Star Trek memorabilia and a passionate fan of TOS
- Star Trek TOS At Auction Part I - Gurian Collection Highlights - Greg Jein TOS Hero Type II Phaser
-Authenticating a TOS Communicator -6 Myths About Star Trek Prop Design -Star Trek 3rd Season Command Tunic
- Design Features of TOS Tricorders -Star Trek Props At National Air & Space - TOS Leatherette Tricorder
- TOS Federation Sciences Dress -Desilu Studio TOS Prop Fabrication - Unreleased Allen/Gurian Prop Photos
- The Beautiful Women of TOS Part I -TOS U.S.S. Enterprise 11' Filming Model - Captain Kirk's Chair from TOS
- Spock Ears -TOS Control Panels & Displays - Mr. Spock's Science Station
- TOS Soundstage at Desilu -TOS Shatner Romulan Pants - The Beautiful Women of TOS Pt. II
- TOS Galileo Shuttlecraft -Greg Jein TOS Cage Laser Pistol - TOS 3rd Season Midgrade Type II Phaser
- Dr. McCoy's Sickbay on TOS -TOS Balok Puppet Head - Captain Kirk "Mirror, Mirror" Tunic
- Greg Jein TOS Hero Tricorder -1992 Smithsonian TOS Cast Video - TOS 1st Season Command Tunic
- TOS "Where No Man" Silver Contact Lenses -TOS Special Effects: The Transporter - The Art of Matt Jefferies
- TOS "Space Seed" Gold Mesh Jumpsuit -Gorn Costume from "Arena" - Rare TOS Behind-the-Scenes Videos
- TOS Stunt Type II Phaser -1993 Bill Theiss Estate Auction - TOS Shatner Command Dress Tunic
- TOS Elasian Royal Guard Tunic -TOS Finnegan Silver "Shore Leave" Tunic - TOS Science Officer Tunic "The Cage"
- TOS Shatner Early 1st Season Command Tunic -William Shatner TOS Tunics At Auction - TOS Shatner Late 1st Season Command Tunic

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spock Ears

Perhaps the quintessential Star Trek makeup appliance is a set of “Spock Ears”; first made famous in 1966 and instantly recognizable around the world today as an icon of the franchise. They were designed and first applied to Leonard Nimoy by the celebrated, veteran Hollywood Makeup Artist Fred B. Phillips for the Original Series 1st pilot episode “The Cage”. At the time that “The Cage” began filming in November of 1964, Phillips could already boast over 37 years of experience in his chosen profession – having honed his skills on such famous film productions as Cecil B. DeMille’s “King Of Kings” in 1927, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in 1931, “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939, and most recently the first 3 seasons of “The Outer Limits” television series - which had begun production in 1963. Phillips would return as Makeup Artist for all three seasons of The Original Series; where he would create and apply the special prosthetics to Nimoy on a daily basis.

According to TOS Associate Producer Bob Justman in his book “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story”: Fred Phillips had taken a cast of Leonard’s ears from which he had molds made that incorporated the kind of pointed tips that Roddenberry wanted. The theory was that, once the molds were made, duplicate ears could be cranked out when needed and glued onto Leonard’s ears. Easier said than done. Once a pair of them had been painstakingly attached and colored to match the rest of Spock’s yellowish complexion, that was it for that pair. And when they were removed (a painful and time consuming process for Leonard, since they were attached with spirit glue and could be removed only with the use of strong solvent), they couldn’t be saved for use the next time. New day, new ears. And the rubber being used wasn’t dependable. The makeup lab had to cast pair after pair of ears until a good set was made. Later, when the series was filmed, Charles Schramm of the MGM makeup department would use an improved latex formula and crank out ears on an assembly-line basis.

On page 32 of “The Art of Star Trek”, the following insights are provided on the 75 minute procedure skillfully performed by Phillips to transform Nimoy into the Enterprise’s “pointy-eared Science Officer”: The first stage in the process was the application of the single-use foam-rubber ear tips. These were glued to Nimoy’s ears with spirit gum. A two-side tape furnished a strip of adhesive on the back of each ear. This allowed Nimoy’s ears to be pressed closely to the sides of his head and remain there. The next stage was the creation of Spock’s characteristic Vulcan eyebrows. This required Phillips to shave the outside halves of Nimoy’s actual eyebrows during each makeup session. Phillips filled in the shape of the new eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil, then painted over those lines with spirit gum. The spirit gum was used to attach short lengths of yak belly hair, which Phillips cut from long stands, blending the small tufts into what remained of Nimoy’s own eyebrows. The final stage of the process involved applying base makeup and adding shading to ensure that shadow contours would be seen even under the bright lights of the shooting stage.

The following photos document this makeup procedure …

Not many TOS fans may be aware that, as the series was starting production, the use of the pointed Spock Ears on the show was an issue which created much controversy between the television network and the Star Trek creators. As Desilu Executive in charge of TOS production Herb Solow discussed in “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story”:

… in 1965, the NBC Sales Department was concerned. It was as if they believed that, after Satan had been cast out the the Garden of Eden, he was reincarnated as actor Leonard Nimoy and cast into Star Trek as Science Officer Spock, a pointed-eared, arched-eyebrowed “satanic” Vulcan alien. Though it was well before the rise of 1970s Christian fundamentalism, NBC feared its advertisers and local stations would be targets of a religious backlash protesting this “devil incarnate.”

… It took several weeks for us to learn the extent to which NBC Sales had gone to disguise Spock’s “satanic” pointed ears. NBC had sent a very attractive Star Trek sales brochure to its station affiliates and advertisers. Close scrutiny showed, however, that an artist working for the NBC Sales Department had airbrushed Spock’s pointy ears round in all the photographs…

In order to placate the network, which was strongly advocating the use of regular ears and eyebrows on the Spock character – a move that would have seriously undermined the concept that an alien was serving onboard the Enterprise; the Star Trek production team decided to “tell NBC what they wanted to hear” in agreeing to greatly reduce Spock’s visibility in the show for the first thirteen weeks, while actually proceeding without limitations on the use of the Vulcan first officer.

As Solow recalls: The first four episodes to air featured Mister Spock in varying degrees. But by the time the fifth show was ready to air, “Spockmania” had erupted, and NBC’s anti-Spock campaign came to a grinding halt. Desilu’s mailroom was bulging with huge sacks of fan mail, most of which was addressed to Mister Spock.

Below is one of the airbrushed photos of Spock seen in the NBC sales brochure …

In 1979, Fred Phillips resumed his duties as Spock Ear fabricator when he signed on to handle the makeup for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Art of Star Trek reports that Phillips cast his 2000th Spock ear while working on ST:TMP; in addition to designing a large number of other aliens such as the Saurians, Betelgeuseans, and Rigellians that were seen in the film. Unfortunately, this production would be the last time that Phillips would perform a makeup role for Star Trek; as he was forced to turn down an offer to return for the production of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan due to failing eyesight that caused difficulty with depth perception. On March 21, 1993; one of the finest makeup artists to grace Hollywood with his extraordinary talent – Frederick Beauregard Phillips – passed away at the age of 84.

Below are some photos of a set of Spock Ears that were cast by Phillips and screen worn by Leonard Nimoy during the production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

A TOS screenshot showing a closeup view of Fred Phillips handiwork …

And a rare behind-the-scenes photo taken on the set of The Original Series proving that Vulcan ears are indeed hereditary. Leonard Nimoy appears with son Adam on the Enterprise Bridge …

Some screen worn Vulcan ear appliances used by actor Gary Graham in the role of Vulcan ambassador Soval during filming of the Star Trek: Enterprise series premiere “Broken Bow” in May of 2001 …