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Rare Star Trek costume designs, making-of secrets revealed in first look at 'Star Trek: A Celebration' book

By Tara Bennett
Star Trek A Celebration

As the Star Trek universe continues to expand with a myriad of television series, and cinematic adventures in multiple timelines now, there’s something to be said about going back to Star Trek: The Original Series and reflecting on how creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for the future laid the groundwork for everything that has come since.

Such is the thesis behind Hero Collector Book's upcoming title, Star Trek - The Original Series: A Celebration, from authors Ben Robinson and Ian Spelling. The 256-page tome hits shelves on September 21, 2021, and covers a gamut of topics from characters to episodes, including rare new interviews with those who brought the show to life.

Star Trek A Celebration

SYFY WIRE has two exclusive pages from the book revealing incredible sketches of William Ware Theiss for some of the gorgeous and memorable costumes in early Trek history:

Star Trek A Celebration

In an exclusive conversation with Ian Spelling, he explains the origins of the sketch and costuming treasures included in the book.

“There are two kinds of rare sketches in the book,” Spelling says. “There's great art by Matt Jefferies, which came straight from the man himself. Years ago, Jefferies gave [author] Ben Robinson a folder of transparencies covering everything that he still had in his possession. The art is truly fantastic and has been rarely, if ever, seen, and we're thrilled to be able to include it in our book. And in terms of the costume art, we gathered it from a few sources. [Prop collector] James Cawley owns an immense collection of TOS costumes, photos and art, and he shared a great deal of it with us for inclusion in A Celebration. Ben and I sat with James and his son, Patrick, for a couple of hours going through materials, and we were all like kids in a Star Trek candy store. James had a very early Kirk sketch by William Ware Theiss, for example, that just amazed all of us. It's on a piece of lined paper! And, of course, it's there in the book.”

Star Trek A Celebration

Asked about what hard core Trek fans may get out of this book, Spelling says, “The copy is as informative as we could make it. Like, did you know that Gene Roddenberry, during his time as hands-on producer, wanted to see every costume and often asked for last-minute changes? Did you know that the guy who looked after the men's costumes was named Kirk? True story. His name was Kirk Templeman. Costumes were dry-cleaned every night. That makes sense, but what many people may not know, and I certainly did not, was that under union rules they had to be dry cleaned after a day's work. And my favorite bit in the costume section is the before and after, sketch and finished product, created for France Nuyen, who played Elaan in 'Elaan of Troyius.' It's very cool to see three sketches and, beneath them, three photos of Nuyen in her costume. The third sketch and photo, of Elaan's gorgeous orange costume... the transition from concept to screen is remarkable and, pardon the pun, almost seamless."

A long-time Star Trek writer for its official magazines, websites, and as a moderator at official Trek conventions, Spelling says they approached this book like they were programming a convention on its pages. "Wherever we could, we sought new material, so there are as many never-seen, or rarely-seen, pictures and sketches. We tried to approach familiar anecdotes in fresh ways. We conducted new interviews wherever possible as well. So, while people may know that Jeffrey Hunter played the captain before William Shatner, they may not have heard the perspective of Hunter's son, whom I spoke to."

Spelling contines, "We tracked down the man who built the iconic phaser rifle that helped sell NBC on the second pilot. He's nearly 100 years old! Ralph Senensky, who is also closing in fast on 100, directed 6.5 episodes of The Original Series, and he talked to us about both his contributions to Star Trek and what happened with 'The Tholian Web,' which he was in the middle of directing when he got fired; thus the 6.5 reference. Also in the book is a brand-new interview with Carey Foster, a/k/a Emmy Lou Parmenter, who is believed to be the last living performer to appear in both the first pilot, 'The Cage,' and, later, in episodes of the TOS with Shatner. We've got a very rare chat with Joseph D'Agosta, the casting director who hired several of the show's leads and most of its guest stars. And we've got the first-ever print interview with April Tatro, who was only recently revealed to be the woman who played the human form of the cat Isis in 'Assignment: Earth.' We even look back at the earliest Star Trek conventions, and talked to several of the surviving organizers for that chapter."

In closing, Spelling sums it up: "Basically, this is a book for diehard Star Trek fans by diehard Star Trek fans, and we think, we hope, that passion comes through on every page of Star Trek: The Original Series — A Celebration."

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