March 25 – Dorothy C. Fontana

Happy Birthday Dorothy C. Fontana!

Dorothy C. Fontana (born March 25, 1939) – screenwriter and story editor of first Star Trek television series, and Star Trek – the Next Generation, and several other popular U.S. television programs.

Read the Wikipedia article about D.C. Fontana

Read Kelly Konda’s “8 Things You Learn About Star Trek From Eugene Roddenberry’s Documentary Trek Nation

Gene Roddenberry’s production secretary Dorothy Fontana was the first person to read his original 12-page treatment for Star Trek in 1964 because he thought so highly of her he valued her opinion. By the time 1966 came around, she had briefly quit as his production secretary, insisting that she get a chance to actually write for the show even though it was a time when not a lot of women wrote for television shows. Roddenberry didn’t want to lose her, and apparently had no problem with using a female writer. So, he gave her a script which was in need of a re-write, and that turned into the first season episode “This Side of Paradise,” which we have argued elsewhere is the 2nd best Original Series episode ever. Fontana claims that if the Network or other writers were uncomfortable with her around as a female writer she never heard or felt it due to Roddenberry’s influence. However, her credited name D.C. Fontana did seem designed to make it less obvious the episode had been written by a female. Plus, the documentary fails to cover this, but she ended up a credited writer for 8 Original Series episodes, three of which were written under the male pseudonyms Michael Richards or J. Michael Bingham.

Dorothy Fontana talks about her life and work:

Fontana at minute 22:00: I was dealing with producers at that time [early 1960s] who didn’t care what gender I was. ‘Did I write a good story?’ was all that I was ever asked.

Minute 28:58: October 1966 I became story editor for Star Trek. It was working independently with writers as a story editor. No one was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing it right.

Minute 46:30: (Interviewer) What were you doing to attract intelligent viewers?

Fontana: Writing intelligent stories. That’s what we did on Star Trek. We weren’t going to write science fiction trash. We had usually strong women, most of the time. We had really good actors who were involved in good stories.

 

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