Tuesday, 3 December 2019

DC Fontana 1939 - 2019

One of the lights of the galaxy has faded.

News has broken today that Dorothy Catherine "DC" Fontana, one of the key members of the original Star Trek writing staff from The Original Series has passed aged 80 on December 2nd.

Meeting Gene Roddenberry while he was making The Lieutenant, Fontana would follow him across to Star Trek and act as story editor for the first two seasons and was involved with writing ten episodes in total - Charlie X, Tomorrow is Yesterday, This Side of Paradise, Friday's Child, Journey to Babel, By Any Other Name, The Ultimate Computer, The Enterprise Incident, That Which Survives and The Way to Eden. The latter two were written under her Michael Richards pseudonym as a freelancer.

But her association with Star Trek would not end there and Fontana would return not just to write the rather excellent Yesteryear for The Animated Series (acting also as associate producer and story editor) but later step onboard for The Next Generation when Roddenberry reunited some of the original team for a second stab at success. 

As associate producer Fontana oversaw story editing once again, penning the first version of Encounter at Farpoint as well as The Naked Now, Lonely Among Us, Too Short a Season and the first true Klingon story of the series, Heart of Glory before moving on due to disagreements and differences that were brewing during the early days of the show. In a sense, DC Fontana is also responsible for the very genesis of The Next Generation, taking it and scripting the pilot episode to launch the series and bring the delicious set of characters to life for the first time on paper.

Her final scripted episode of Star Trek however would be the Deep Space Nine courtroom episode, Dax from its initial season in 1993. She would also go on to write for the fan series New Voyages for their 2006 episode To Serve All My Days which would return Walter Koenig to the role of Pavel Chekov one more time. 

DC worked again in Star Trek on video games Bridge Commander, Tactical Assault and  Legacy but her work was not solely confined to the Star Trek universe seeing her writing for productions for series such as Babylon 5

Fontana's footprint on the Star Trek franchise is certainly far and wide, stretching from 1966 and the first season into computer games and fan series. She is responsible for some landmark events in the show such as the introduction of Spock's parents as well as the birth of one Leonard James Akaar (Friday's Child) who is still now used as a character in the ongoing Star Trek novel series as the head of Starfleet. Fontana also managed to create one of the more memorable (for the right reasons) episodes of Star Trek's third and final season with the return of the Romulans and the plot to steal a cloaking device. One more notable point that the Romulan commander would be another character reused later by Star Trek Continues. In that instance the actress' real life daughter would play the role. 

As for Yesteryear, it is regarded as one of the few animated episodes that strongly resonates even 40 plus years later and many regard as canon due to its insight into the early years of Spock's life on Vulcan. This episode works in much the same way that Dax does or Heart of Glory, in that Fontana has brought background and depth to important characters within the franchise and built believable and memorable facets that are turned to again and again, forming the backbone to many a performance across six decades.

Truly a sad loss to the Star Trek universe. 


  1. So sad to hear this. I was surprised to learn she was from my home State, even read an article in the local newspaper mentioning her passing. Her legacy will live on anytime anyone watches any of the episodes that she was involved with. Live Long and Prosper.

    1. Great shame to lose such a Star Trek pioneer. She laid down a lot of material we still remember vividly today and will, as you note, live on for generations to come. Thanks for commenting.