Cliché Star Trek quotes such as “beam away” are often thrown about to signify the passing of a Star Trek luminary, but I like to think that in most cases, it is as an honor, and not simply as a tired old journalism turn of phrase.
Nevertheless, this week we mourn the passing and celebrate the lives of three Trek heroes, who have, in their own unique ways, contributed greatly to what is without a doubt one of the greatest fictions of humanity: Alexander Courage, Joseph Pevney, and Robert H. Justman.
First, and possibly the most well known, is Alexander Courage. The name may not be familiar to all of you, but his most recognizable piece of work definitely will be. A Hollywood composer, arranger, and orchestrator, Courage is the man who created the original Star Trek television series opening theme music, a piece he described as a “marvelous malarkey.”
At age 88, Courage passed away on May 15, 2008, at the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in Pacific Palisades, California, after a stroke.
Alexander Courage worked on nearly a hundred films since the late 1940s, including many of the MGM studio musicals, including Funny Face, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oklahoma and My Fair Lady.
Three days later, at his home in Palm Desert, Joseph Pevney, director of some of Star Trek’s greatest ever episodes, passed away at age 96. Pevney directed a total of 14 episodes of the original 1960’s series, including the greatest episode of all time, “The City on the Edge of Forever”, and its runner up, “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
Pevney was a favorite of actors as well, with Leonard Nimoy, Spock from the original series, telling TrekMovie.com that “Joe Pevney … was one of the best directors of Star Trek…” and George Takei, Sulu, saying that “I enjoyed working with him.”
And, thankfully lastly, Robert H. Justman has passed away at his Los Angeles home due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, last Wednesday, May 28, 2008. As associate producer, technical consultant, and eventually co-producer, Justman was heavily involved with the original series of Star Trek, and had a hand in everything from casting to set design to props and scripts.
Twenty years later, when show’s creator Gene Roddenberry revived the franchise for Paramount as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Justman was there, again, as a supervising producer along with Rick Berman, who many Trek fans will know and, simultaneously, revile, for his later treatment of the Trek franchise. Justman oversaw much in those days, designing sets, models and visual effects, and watching over character and script development.
But according to Berman, Justman’s greatest contribution was his persistence in getting Patrick Stewart to portray the character of Captain Jean Luc Picard. “Roddenberry was very against the idea of a bald British actor playing the next Capt. Kirk,” Berman said. “But Bob was very persistent, and Patrick became Capt. Picard.”
So to the families of Alexander Courage, Joseph Pevney, and Robert H. Justman, all of us here at Geeks of Doom promise our prayers, our heartfelt sorrow, and our thanks, in the memory of these three great legends. And we can all thank the stars that each one Lived Long and Prospered.