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

Monday, August 1, 2022

Nichelle Nichols: 1932 - 2022

On the night of Saturday, July 30th, 2022, the world lost another much beloved cast member of Star Trek: The Original Series with the passing of Nichelle Nichols at the age of 89.  According to a statement to the New York Times from family spokesperson Sky Conway, the actress died of heart failure at her home in Silver City, New Mexico.  Her son, Kyle Johnson, posted the following statement on the actress's offical website Uhura.com:  "Dear Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World, I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.  Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected. Live Long and Prosper, Kyle Johnson".

Nichelle Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, played Lt. Uhura, the beautiful and intelligent Communications Officer on the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the head of her department aboard the ship and a linguistics expert who handled all ship-to-ship transmissions and communiques to/from Starfleet Command, participated on the occasional landing party expedition, and was a technical specialist in the underlying circuitry of her Bridge workstation – effecting repairs when needed.  As a highly skilled senior staff operations division officer, she was capable of substituting for other positions on the Bridge, and, indeed, was assigned to the navigation station by Mr. Spock in “The Naked Time” to replace Lt. Kevin Riley; and also took over Navigations from Lt. Stiles in “Balance of Terror”.  In “The Galileo Seven”, while Spock was away in command of the shuttlecraft mission, Uhura manned the Science Station for Kirk and was the one who discovered the planet Taurus II where the shuttle had crashed.   

With her magnificent portrayal of the truly pioneering role of Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols made television history and helped shape the social consciousness of the nation.  Uhura was a character that completely broke down the stereotypes of those years – as a black female in a leadership role was  simply unheard of in ‘60s television prior to TOS.   

Not all fans of the Original Series are aware that Nichols came extremely close to leaving the show at the completion of the first season; and had in fact met with Gene Roddenberry and resigned after filming the last episode of the year. It was an unanticipated historic encounter literally the next day that caused Nichols to re-evaluate her decision. As described in her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994):The following evening I attended an important NAACP fund-raising event. I was chatting with someone when a man approached and said, ‘Nichelle, there is someone who would like to meet you. He’s a big fan of Star Trek and of Uhura.’  I turned to greet this “fan” and found myself gazing upon the face of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”  During their conversation, Nichols mentioned to Dr. King that she did plan to leave the series, and he literally talked her out of that decision with an impassioned and eloquent articulation of the importance of her continued presence on the show.  From “Beyond Uhura” .. “’You cannot,” he replied firmly, “and you must not. … You have the first nonstereotypical role on television, male or female ... You have created a character of dignity and grace and beauty and intelligence. … You’re more important for people who don’t look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.... Remember, you are not important there in spite of your color. You are important there because of your color.”   

Of course, not only did Nichelle Nichols remain on Star Trek, but on the night of Nov. 22, 1968 – with the broadcast of the 3rd season episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – she stepped into the history books again by participating in the first televised interracial kiss, between a black woman and a white man (William Shatner), on American network television. Despite a high level of internal controversy about the momentous scene, with NBC executives becoming quite nervous about upsetting or angering audiences in the Deep South, and some well planned conspiracy on the part of Shatner and Nichols to deliberately flub every take of a network requested alternate version of the scene that would feature a fake, simulated kiss - thus leaving the studio with no usable footage except that with the real kiss – the episode in fact was successfully aired and received a tremendously positive response with much enthusiastic fan mail.  Indeed, Nichelle Nichols noted in Beyond Uhura that just a single, mildly disapproving letter arrived at the studio, from a white Southerner who wrote: “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races.  However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”   

Between the ages of 12 and 14, Nichols had studied classical ballet at the Chicago Ballet Academy, and she began her entertainment industry career as a singer and dancer, performing with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hamptom before narrowing her focus to acting.  She was also a dancer in the 1959 Columbia Pictures musical film Porgy and Bess, and a performer in the 1961 New York City-based musical stage show Kicks & Co.   As an actress, Nichols appeared in an episode of Gene Roddenberry’s series The Lieutentant in 1964, and had also played television roles in Peyton Place, Tarzan, and a few other shows prior to being cast in TOS.  In later decades, she would lend her voice to such animated series as Batman, Gargoyles, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Futurama; and, in recent years, the actress has made appearances on such live action/dramatic series as Heroes, The Young and the Restless, and Renegades.   

One of Nichelle Nichols most noteworthy non-acting endeavors was her volunteer work with NASA to assist in the recruitment of women and minorities into America’s space program.  A tremendously successful project, Nichols was involved in the program that recruited Dr. Sally Ride – the first female U.S. astronaut; Col. Guion Bluford – the first African-American astronaut, and others.  Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space is well known to have been greatly inspired to reach for the stars by Nichols performance as Uhura while growing up watching Star Trek well before the TOS actress became affiliated with NASA.  Since the mid-80s, Nichols also served on the Board of Governors of the Wernher von Braun founded National Space Society advocacy organization.

On a personal note, like millions of fans around the world, I feel as if I've lost a family member today. I first met Nichelle Nichols in late July, 1976 at the Toronto Star Trek '76 convention held at the Royal York Hotel in my hometown of Toronto, Canada. All of the Star Trek stars at that event went out of their way to put the fans at ease and were very gracious with their time, even pausing to chat with each fan a bit after signing autographs for them. The same was also true of Ms. Nichols. At the age of 14, despite being awestruck in her presence, I somehow overcame my youthful shyness and asked Nichelle if I might give her a kiss. She smiled, and I recall her bringing her face close to mine and then allowing me to place an innocent kiss on her cheek. After that momentous experience, I was truly in heaven for days! And surprisingly, the story of that kiss does not end in July 1976. Seventeen years later, in the summer of 1993, when I attended a Chicago Dreamwerks convention and told Nichelle of our prior encounter, with no underlying desire other than to thank her for a past kindness, the lovely actress surprisingly rose from her chair at the signing table and stated "History should repeat itself." And this time it was a full kiss on the lips.  I do feel so honored to have met this beautiful, inspirational, Star Trek legend several times over the years; and to likely be in a rare category of fans that can claim to have shared a kiss with her on multiple occasions! The world has truly lost an icon, trailblazer and one of its most beautiful and gracious souls, while the heavens have gained a new shining star. Nichelle's legacy will long be celebrated by future generations.
















 
 


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Some U.S.S. Stargazer Concept Art from Star Trek: Picard

Following the successful launch of Season 2 of the series in early March, Star Trek: Picard Production Designer Dave Blass released a breathtaking collection of concept art via his personal social media accounts, that focused on the design of the Sagan Class Starship U.S.S. Stargazer which was unveiled in the first episode of the season, that was so appropriately titled "The Star Gazer".  As Mr. Blass commented on facebook, "Designing the newest starship in the Federation Fleet takes a lot of visualization and PREVISUALIZATION. A new Starfleet ship has not been seen fully in over 20 years, so this was a monumental task. The coordination between lighting, cinematography, visual effects, playback technology and the Art Department is key, so getting it done in the computer BEFORE we start spending tons of money, is key. I love big foamcore white models, but during covid, it was all Email and digital. Great work by Igor Vidyashev for the previs and his designs, James Addink did the heavy lifting for the Set Design team Sean Hargreaves, Scott Schneider, Tim Earls, James Chung, Daren Dochterman, Kevin Cross, Kyle Courter, Rob Johnson, Karl Martin, Alan Farkas and as always John Eaves and Doug Drexler contributed to details and layout and were all integral to the overall look of the U.S.S. Stargazer."  Mr. Blass additionally credited "Blast shield Matthew Cunningham, Art Direction Mark Zuelzke, William Eliscu, Jann Engel, Dylan Bocanegra, Set Decoration by Tim Stepeck, Playback Todd Marks, Ben Betts, Larry Markart, Andrew Jarvis and Twisted Media.  Graphic Design by Geoffrey Mandel and LCARS Upgrade by Michael Okuda".  A selection of the stunning concept art imagery is reproduced below, with special thanks to Dave Blass and congratulations to the entire team on their exceptional work ...





















A behind the scenes shot of the production team at work upon the fully realized U.S.S. Stargazer Bridge set ...



Saturday, April 16, 2022

Christina Chong La'an Noonien-Singh Pilot Style Starfleet Duty Uniform from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Presented below are some detailed photos of a Christina Chong screen worn La'an Noonien-Singh Pilot Style Starfleet Duty Uniform from the new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds television series, the 8th live action adventure series in the history of the franchise, which is set to premiere on Thursday, May 5, 2022 on Paramount+.  This costume was recently on display in a special Strange New Worlds exhibit at Star Trek: Mission Chicago, a ViacomCBS sponsored fan convention that took place from April 8 - 10, 2022 at the massive McCormick Place center in Chicago, Illinois.  This attractive design is highly reminiscent of the female two-piece Starfleet uniforms that were seen in the initial pilot episodes of Star Trek TOS - "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - which featured a colored tunic matched with black pants as the standard female duty uniform prior to the introduction of the famous TOS miniskirt design at the start of filming of the regular season episodes.  Not only does this new design feature the two piece, black pants style of the pilot; but the tunic design is also characterized by long seam lines running down the left and right torso at the front of the costume - to replicate that feature of "The Cage" design.  Similar to the other new Strange New Worlds uniforms, this costume is infused with some delightful intricate new details, such as a subtle repeating decorative pattern that utilizes the well known TOS symbols of the crewmember's assigned starfleet division - Command, Sciences, Engineering or Medical - actually incorporated into sections of the uniform's fabric that runs along the length of the arms and shoulder areas of the garment.  All of the Starfleet uniforms in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are the creations of Costume Designers Bernadette Cross and Gersha Phillips in the ST:SNW Costume Department.

Special thanks to my friend and fellow Star Trek fan T.J. Babinetz, who attended the Star Trek: Mission Chicago convention, for his very gracious permission to display his detailed photography of this costume in this article.    Just click on any of the images below to view an enlarged version ...

 



Note the bands of straight edged rank braid, similar to the style featured in the first Star Trek pilot The Cage, which is different from the scalloped edge style that was instituted during the filming of the regular season episodes of TOS.    Also, as observed throughout these recent photostudies, the color of the rank braid on the Strange New Worlds costumes will change based on Starfleet division:  Command uniforms feature Gold rank braid, Science uniforms feature Blue rank braid, Engineering uniforms feature Red rank braid, and Medical uniforms feature Silver rank braid ...




Note the near identical placement of the long seam lines running down the left and right sides on the front of the Strange New Worlds and TOS Cage female tunic designs ...