TV Writer D.C. Fontana Dies At 80
Writer for the original Star Trek series, D.C. Fontana, passed away December 2. She was 80 years old. Her death was reported on the official Star Trek website. She apparently dealt with illness, but they offered no specifics. They described Fontana as “the legendary writer who brought many of ‘Star Trek’s’ greatest episodes to life.”
D.C. Fontana and Her Gender
Fontana was born in New Jersey as Dorothy Catherine Fontana. She wrote under the gender-neutral D.C. Fontana because she knew she was entering what was essentially a boy’s club. It was (and still is) a largely male-dominated industry, so she hid her gender in order to avoid discrimination as she came into the arena of TV writing. She got her start in TV as a secretary to Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, in 1961.
In 2016, Fontana said in an interview with NorthJeresy.com, “I wrote a ‘Ben Casey’ spec script, with the byline ‘D.C. Fontana.’ Figuring they can’t turn me down because I’m a woman, because they wouldn’t know. And I had my agent turn it in, and it was bought. From then on I thought, ‘You know what, this is the best way to go. I’m going to go with D.C. Fontana.'”
For some of her Star Trek episodes, she wrote under the pseudonym Michael Richards.
Fontana’s Role in Star Trek
Fontana is credited on eleven episodes of the original Star Trek series, which ran on NBC from 1966-1969. She introduced the mythos behind Spock’s parents in the 1967 standout episode, “Journey to Babel.” It explored his upbringing with a human mother and Vulcan father. Fontana also wrote the episode “This Side of Paradise,” where the members of the Enterprise experience the effects of flower spores spray.
In the 1970s, she worked on the animated Star Trek series. She re-joined Roddenberry in 1987 to write the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She wrote a few episodes for that series as well as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Expanding the universe further, she wrote Star Trek novels The Questor Tapes and Vulcan’s Glory.
Life Beyond Star Trek
Prior to the original Star Trek series, Fontana wrote for other shows like The Wild Wild West and Ben Casey. After Star Trek, she worked on a few popular ’70s shows, such as The Streets of San Francisco, Kung Fu, Bonanza, Logan’s Run, The Waltons, Dallas, and The Six Million Dollar Man.
She was also active with the Writers Guild of America for much of her career. Recently, she gave lectures for the American Film Institute. In 1997 and 2002, she received honorary awards for her service to the WGA.
Rest in peace to an industry legend and trailblazer. Word of the Nerd sends condolences to the loved ones of D.C. Fontana.
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