Sunday, July 7, 2013

The First Draft of the Making of Star Trek


One of my favorite discoveries in the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection at UCLA is Stephen Whitfield's typed manuscript of The Making of Star Trek, which the author sent to Roddenberry so the writer-producer could edit it. Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman's Inside Star Trek: The Real Story has this to say about the preliminary version of the book:
During the time it took to write The Making of Star Trek, Whitfield continually requested that Roddenberry edit the newly written material. But Roddenberry procrastinated and finally read the book after it was typeset, and in galleys, and spent 'one long night' with Whitfield 'making changes.' Owing to the book's printing deadline, very few changes were incorporated, and the book was published much as Whitfield had written it.
--Herb Solow and Bob Justman, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996), p.402
I've only had the opportunity to compare a few sections of the manuscript to the published book, but in all of those cases, Solow and Justman's account appears to be correct.  Whitfield's typed manuscript has a few handwritten changes from Roddenberry that were implemented, but for the most part it rarely deviates from the book as it was published.  Hitting store shelves shortly before the program's third season premiere, The Making of Star Trek was in many ways the first draft of the behind-the-scenes history of Star Trek.  In this post I will highlight a few of the changes that were made to Whitfield's original manuscript, as well as correct some of the inaccuracies the popular book has perpetuated over the course of at least thirty-three separate printings.

In the first passage I want to highlight, Whitfield writes about the casting process on 'The Menagerie,' the first pilot.  I have bolded the sentences which differ between the manuscript (the first quoted paragraph) and the book (the second quoted paragraph):
By that time, the rest of the cast had already been chosen.  Leonard Nimoy would play the part of Mr. Spock.  Ever since his appearance on an episode of the 'Lieutenant', Gene had always wanted to cast Leonard in the role of an Alien.  Majel Barrett was Number One, the First Officer.  Peter Duryea (Dan Duryea’s son) played the part of the navigator, Jose Tyler.  Doctor Philip Boyce was played by John Hoyt.  The part of Yeoman J.M. Colt was played by Laurel Goodwin.  Vina was played by Susan Oliver.  Ed Madded was cast in the part of the geologist, and a young negro actor played the part of one of the officers on the ship.
The decision to have a negro in the cast caused a lot of raised eyebrows.  An integrated cast was not a common place occurrence at that time.
By that time, the rest of the cast had already been chosen.  Leonard Nimoy would play the part of Mr. Spock.  Ever since his appearance on an episode of 'The Lieutenant,' Roddenberry had always wanted to cast Leonard in the role of an alien.  Majel Barrett was to play Number One, the ship’s Executive Officer.  Peter Duryea (Dan Duryea’s son) was cast as the Navigator, José Tyler.  Dr. Philip Boyce was played by John Hoyt.  The part of Yeoman J.M. Colt was played by Laurel Goodwin.  The guest star role of Vina was played by Susan Oliver.  Ed Madden was cast in the part of the geologist.  In the lesser roles, a mixture of racial types was featured.
The decision to have an obvious mixture of races in the cast caused a lot of raised eyebrows.  Integration was not commonplace on television at that time.
--Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek (1968), p.111
The revisions between the two versions make sense, since 'The Menagerie' doesn't feature any black actors or extras (it's possible Whitfield confused which pilot Lloyd Haynes played the short-lived role of Lieutenant Alden in). However, even the claim that the first pilot represented 'an obvious mixture of races' is a bit of a stretch. Of the six intended main characters, only José Tyler was written of being anything other than Western European descent, and the actor who was ultimately cast in the part (Peter Duryea) was of Western European descent.

In fact, internal casting documents suggest most of the actors considered for the role of José Tyler were white. An October 14, 1964 memo from Roddenberry to Kerwin Coughlin (a casting director who worked on the first pilot and had a history with Desilu programs including I Love Lucy) suggest the following names: Joby Baker, Marc Cavell, Victor Arnold, Robert Brown, Joe Bova, Ross Martin, Richard Jaeckel, and Bruce Dern. Coughlin's response to Roddenberry's memo, sent the following day, included additional possibilities for the role: Peter Brooks, Tom Lowell, Russell Horton, Steve Terrell, Tom Skerritt, Alan Reed Jr., Teno Pollick, Larry Merrill, Michael McDonald, Claude Johnson, Bill Gray, Jack Grinnage, James Dobson, Bobby Diamond, Jerry Dexter, James Davidson, Michael Greene, Christopher Connelly, Robert Cabal, John Ashley, Barton Heyman, and Jimmy Goodwin. Finally, in a November 17, 1964 memo to Coughlin, Roddenberry wrote, 'Rather like the looks of Jerry Rannow as a possible Navigator.'  Most of these actors were of Western European descent.



Whatever the intentions of Roddenberry, Justman, Solow, and others, to anyone who sees 'The Menagerie' it is clear that the speaking roles were all cast with white actors, and there's only one two non-white background actors.  One plays the assistant transporter operator (pictured in the first photo above), who appears in a couple of brief scenes. The other (pictured in the second photo above) appears on the left-hand side of the frame in the background of a few shots on the darkened bridge near the end of the episode.* In other words, it's unlikely that the casting of the first pilot, in terms of racial integration, caused many eyebrows to be raised at NBC.

In the second passage I want to highlight, Whitfield addresses NBC's position on an integrated crew aboard the Enterprise.  Again, I have bolded the sentence that differs significantly in the manuscript (the first quoted paragraph) and the book (the second quoted paragraph):
A word of caution (not an ultimatum) was expressed once more regarding the plans for an integrated crew aboard the Enterprise. A number of the network officials were afraid of the consequences, from a strictly dollars-and-cents point-of-view. By putting a negro in the crew they might lose the Southern states, by putting a Mexican in the crew they might lose Texas, Arizona and parts of California, and so forth.
A word of caution (not an ultimatum) was expressed once more regarding the plans for an integrated crew aboard the EnterpriseThere were still those who were afraid of the consequences, from a strictly dollars-and-cents point-of-view. By putting a Negro in the crew they might lose the Southern states, by putting a Mexican in the crew they might lose Texas, Arizona and parts of California, and so forth. 
--Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek (1968), p.127 
Although the revised passage is less specific about its subject, even the latter version seems clear that the author is talking about people from NBC. All the evidence I've uncovered, however, suggests that this simply wasn't NBC's attitude towards interracial casting. The best evidence of this is an August 17, 1966 memo from NBC Programs Vice President Mort Werner to Gene Roddenberry, which is reprinted in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story:
Mr. Gene Roddenberry
DESILU STUDIOS
Hollywood, Calif. 
Dear Gene:  
Census figures, in the mid-1960s, indicate that one American in every eight is non-white. It is reasonable to assume that this percentage also applies to the television audience.
I choose this statistic to call to your attention once again to NBC's longstanding policy of non-discrimination. Our efforts in the past to assure the fact that the programs broadcast on our facilities are a natural reflection of the role of minorities in American life have met with substantial success. I would like to congratulate those producers who have extended themselves in this regard and I invite all of our creative associates to join us in an even greater effort to meet this fact of American life.  
NBC's employment policy has long dictated that there can be no discrimination because of race, creed, religion or national origin and this applies in all of out operations. In addition, since we are mindful of our vast audience and the extent to which television influences taste and attitudes, we are not only anxious but determined that members of minority groups be treated in a manner consistent with their role in society. While this applies to all racial minorities, obviously the principle reference is to the casting and depiction of Negroes. Our purpose is to assure that in our medium, and within the permissive framework of dramatic license, we present a reasonable reflection of contemporary society.  
We urge producers to cast Negroes, subject to their availability and competence as performs, as people who are an integral segment of the population, as well as in those roles where the fact of their minority status is of significance. An earnest attempt has been made to see that their presence contributes to an honest and natural reflection of places, situations and events, and we desire to intensify and extend this effort.  
We believe that NBC's pursuit of this police is pre-eminent in the broadcasting industry. It is evident in both the daytime and nighttime schedules and particularly in such popular programs as I SPY, THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, and many other presentations. While we have made noticeable progress we can do better, and I ask you for your cooperation and help.  
Sincerely,  
MORT WERNER 
--Herb Solow and Bob Justman, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996), p.76-77
The final passage I want to highlight immediately follows the previous one I quoted from The Making of Star Trek.  Except for some minor changes in capitalization, the manuscript and the final version are identical:
The overseas sales representatives were also greatly concerned about the matter. A Chinese crew member could lose sales for the show in Indonesia, etc., etc., etc. Gene began to realize that if he listened to all of these people, the Enterprise would have ended up an all-white, Protestant, Caucasian crew. This could then rebound with the same result in a great many foreign countries, because why should they believe that 200 years from now such a ship will be manned by an all-American crew? So many different people became embroiled in so much controversy that they ended up leaving Gene alone to do it the way he wanted.  
--Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek (1968), p.127-128  
Again, archival documentation suggests that this is the opposite attitude the overseas sales representatives assigned to the program had towards interracial and international casting.  In a September 28, 1966 memo from Roddenberry to casting director Joseph 'Joe' D'Agosta, the writer-producer noted:
Just a reminder that when we met with the foreign sales force they were particularly insistent that our overseas sales potential is greatly enhanced if the international makeup of the Enterprise is reflected in actors and extras.
I think we have been hitting a logical percentage with our Oriental and Negro actors and extras, but our Latin sales potential, particularly South America, may need some attention. I realize there is no one South American 'type', and we may have to go a bit overboard on characterization in extras to achieve it, plus purposely play in some Spanish accents in actors now and then to get what we need.
Despite these inaccuracies, and a general tendency to favor Roddenberry's narrative of the series' production, The Making of Star Trek remains an important document in the history of Star Trek.  The book includes countless interviews with the cast and crew, conducted before the passage of time could erode their memories, and reprints dozens of production memos and other internal documents which remain unavailable outside of an archival setting.

Historian's Note: Stephen Whitfield was the pen name of Stephen Edward Poe, who met Gene Roddenberry during the production of the first season of Star Trek as a representative of Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT).  The Making of Star Trek (which, despite Ballantine's decision to give co-authorship credit to Roddenberry, Poe wrote alone) was his first published book.  Poe died in 2000.

Thanks to TrekBBS user Maurice for both his constant encouragement and his willingness to type out the Mort Werner memo from Inside Star Trek: The Real Story.

*Update 9/8/2014: Thanks to blog reader and Trek-expert extraordinaire Larry Nemecek for spotting this second non-white extra on the bridge in the first pilot. I stand humbly corrected!

Images from 'The Menagerie' courtesy of Trek Core.

Sources:

The Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection (1964-1969)

The Making of Star Trek (Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968)

Inside Star Trek - The Real Story (Documentary, 1998)

2 comments:

  1. Michael—I recently did a glance back through the full "Menagerie" to do this very thing for an article ini SR magazine: check for non-whie actors—and aside from the Asian assistant transporter operator, there is indeed another non-white extra. Check the darkened bridge repair scene near the end, and I'm sure there's an African-American visible, standing on the port side bridge consoles.

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  2. Good catch, Larry! I've updated the post and given the credit where it's due.

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