Dorothy Fontana

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-and-a-half-hour interview, Dorothy C. Fontana (1939-2019) recalls her early career working for producers such as Samuel Peeples and Del Reisman, and describes how she came to work for writer/producer Gene Roddenberry as his assistant on The Lieutenant. Next, she speaks about the development of the science-fiction series Star Trek. She talks at great length about the show, including details on the cast, the technology, and working with Roddenberry. She also explains how she came to be a writer on the series, and describes the episodes that she wrote. Later, she discusses her other many writing credits, including Star Trek: The Animated Series, The Streets of San Francisco, Logan's Run, and The Waltons. Finally, Fontana talks about her experiences working on the first season of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Karen Herman conducted the interview on December 29, 2003 in Studio City, CA.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"My style has changed over the years. I look back at my original scripts and say, 'oh my gosh, I wrote that?' Because I don't write like that now. It evolves, it changes, because as person you should be evolving and changing. That comes out in the writing."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Dorothy Fontana on her favorite Star Trek episode "Journey to Babel" about Spock's parents
01:27
Dorothy Fontana on Leonard Nimoy and his character "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
01:32
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending
01:56
Dorothy Fontana on being mentored in television writing by Samuel Peeples
01:12
Dorothy Fontana on the technology used in Star Trek's world
02:41
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On her early years and influences, her education, and her interest in writing
On her first job in television as a secretary at Screen Gems in New York, where she decided to write for television
On moving to California and working at Revue Studios, where she was mentored by Samuel Peeples; on selling her first television story for The Tall Man;  on writing scripts for Shotgun Slade and Frontier Circus
On the challenges of being a woman writer and using D.C. Fontana on her scripts so that she would be given a chance
On becoming secretary for Del Reisman and Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant; and her early involvement in the Writers Guild
On the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC; on Desilu Studios where the series was filmed

Chapter 2

On Star Trek's production schedule; on other pilots being produced by Gene Roddenberry; on being hired on Star Trek
On Star Trek's initial production crew and on developing the look of the series and of the starship
On Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example; on the technology used in Star Trek's world
On the casting of Star Trek; on her duties on the series; on being promoted to story editor; on working with the writers
On the direction given to Star Trek writers; on writing a television script; the minimal censorship issues
On the working environment in the Star Trek production offices; on Gene Roddenberry's working style

Chapter 3

On the cast of Star Trek and their characters; on the Star Trek episode "Charlie X"; on the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise", which elevated her to story editor on the series
On her favorite Star Trek episode "Journey to Babel" about Spock's parents; on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending; on the Star Trek episode "By Any Other Name"
On the Star Trek episodes "The Ultimate Computer" and "The Enterprise Incident and on establishing continuity on Star Trek; on "Captain Kirk's" many love interests on Star Trek ; on her favorite episodes of Star Trek including "The Trouble with Tribbles"

Chapter 4

On her least-favorite episode of Star Trek; Klingons; on Gene Roddenberry's "Great Bird of the Galaxy " nickname; on leaving the series at the end of the second season but remaining as a freelancer
On her freelance writing work including Bonanza, The Big Valley, Here Come the Brides, and Then Came Bronson
On her writing process and philosophy
On being associate producer of Star Trek: The Animated Series

Chapter 5

On Star Trek: The Animated Series storylines; on writing for The Streets of San Francisco; on being executive story consultant on Logan's Run
On writing for The Land of the Lost, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Dallas; on writing the episode "The Beau" for The Waltons
On writing a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century script; on the development and casting of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Chapter 6

On the characters of Data, Picard and Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation; updating the 1960s technology and worldview for The Next Generation; on some of the episodes she wrote; on leaving the series after the first season
On Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry's legacy and Star Trek fan culture
On working on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,  Babylon 5, and Earth: Final Conflict; on writing animation scripts

Chapter 7

On Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys and He-Man; on writing for various animated series, and on how the technology has changed; on writing Lonesome Dove: The Series
On then-current projects; on her involvement in the Writers Guild; on writing for interactive video games
On advice to an aspiring writer; on career highlights and regrets; on how she'd like to be remembered
Shows

Babylon 5

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Dorothy Fontana on Babylon 5  and on Michael Straczynski's vision for the series
05:28

Big Valley, The

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Big Valley
02:15

Bonanza

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Dorothy Fontana on writing three scripts for Bonanza
01:10

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

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Dorothy Fontana on writing a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century script
02:44

Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys

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Dorothy Fontana on Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys and He-Man
05:00

Dallas

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for Dallas early in its run
02:04

Earth: Final Conflict

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Dorothy Fontana on Earth: Final Conflict
01:57

Frontier Circus

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Dorothy Fontana briefly on writing scripts for Shotgun Slade and Frontier Circus
02:25

Here Come the Brides

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for Here Come the Brides
01:03

Land of the Lost

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Land of the Lost
00:34

Lieutenant, The

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Dorothy Fontana on becoming secretary for Del Reisman and Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant; and her early involvement in the Writers Guild
04:11

Logan's Run

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Dorothy Fontana on being executive story consultant on Logan's Run
03:17

Lonesome Dove: The Series

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Dorothy Fontana on writing Lonesome Dove: The Series
02:14

Mission: Impossible

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Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's production schedule and how the series was initially picked up
03:36

Shotgun Slade

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Dorothy Fontana briefly on writing scripts for Shotgun Slade and Frontier Circus
02:25

Six Million Dollar Man, The

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Dorothy Fontana on writing two scripts for The Six Million Dollar Man and getting NASA's full cooperation
02:59

Star Trek

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Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC
04:58
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's production schedule and how the series was initially picked up
03:36
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's initial production crew and on developing the look of the series and of the starship
03:36
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example
01:52
Dorothy Fontana on the technology used in Star Trek's world
02:42
Dorothy Fontana on her duties on Star Trek
08:37
Dorothy Fontana on the direction given to Star Trek writers
08:30
Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek and their characters
10:32
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Charlie X"
02:38
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise", which elevated her to story editor on the series
02:04
Dorothy Fontana on her favorite Star Trek episode "Journey to Babel" about Spock's parents
01:27
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending
01:56
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "By Any Other Name"
01:02
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer"
00:36
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident"
02:10
Dorothy Fontana on establishing continuity on Star Trek
01:23
Dorothy Fontana on the Star Trek episodes "That Which Survives" and "Way to Eden"
03:05
Dorothy Fontana on "Captain Kirk's" many love interests on Star Trek
00:38
Dorothy Fontana on her favorite episodes of Star Trek including "The Trouble with Tribbles"
01:07
Dorothy Fontana on her least-favorite episode of Star Trek; Klingons; on Gene Roddenberry's "Great Bird of the Galaxy" nickname
02:11
Dorothy Fontana on moving on from Star Trek
00:52

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
01:34

Star Trek: The Animated Series

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Dorothy Fontana on being associate producer of Star Trek: The Animated Series
09:38
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek: The Animated Series storylines
02:07

Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Dorothy Fontana on the development and casting of Star Trek: The Next Generation
09:44
Dorothy Fontana on the characters and storylines of Star Trek: The Next Generation
18:06

Streets of San Francisco, The

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco
03:47

Tall Man, The

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Dorothy Fontana on the first story she sold for television on The Tall Man
01:19

Then Came Bronson

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for Then Came Bronson
00:51

Waltons, The

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Dorothy Fontana on writing the episode "The Beau" for The Waltons
02:28
Topics

Advice

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Dorothy Fontana on advice to an aspiring writer
03:21

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Dorothy Fontana on the minimal censorship issues on Star Trek
00:41

Characters & Catchphrases

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Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC
01:02
Dorothy Fontana on the technology used in Star Trek's world
02:41
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's "Klingons"
01:23

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example
01:52

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Dorothy Fontana on being mentored in television writing by Samuel Peeples
01:12
Dorothy Fontana on updating the 1960s Star Trek worldview when making Star Trek: The Next Generation
01:35

Drama

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Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example
01:52

Historic Events and Social Change

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Dorothy Fontana on the challenges of being a woman writer and using D.C. Fontana on her scripts so that she would be given a chance
03:01
Dorothy Fontana on "Uhura" and "Number One"- one of the first major female black characters, on Star Trek
01:29
Dorothy  Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending
01:55
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco
03:13

Industry Crossroads

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Dorothy Fontana on working at Revue Studios during the actor and writers' strikes in 1960
01:25

Industry Strikes

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Dorothy Fontana on working at Revue Studios during the actor and writers' strikes in 1960
01:25

New Media

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for interactive video games
06:12

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on being mentored in television writing by Samuel Peeples
01:12
Dorothy Fontana on updating the 1960s Star Trek worldview when making Star Trek: The Next Generation
01:35

Pop Culture

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC
01:02
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example
01:52
Dorothy Fontana on the technology used in Star Trek's world
02:41
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's "Klingons"
01:23

Representation on Television

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on the challenges of being a woman writer and using D.C. Fontana on her scripts so that she would be given a chance
03:01
Dorothy Fontana on "Uhura" and "Number One"- one of the first major female black characters, on Star Trek
01:29
Dorothy  Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending
01:55
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco
03:13

Studio and Network Management

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Dorothy Fontana on the status of Desilu Studios at the time Star Trek was being developed
01:02

Television Industry

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on working at Revue Studios during the actor and writers' strikes in 1960
01:25
Dorothy Fontana on the status of Desilu Studios at the time Star Trek was being developed
01:02
Dorothy Fontana on the minimal censorship issues on Star Trek
00:41
Dorothy Fontana on writing for interactive video games
06:12
Dorothy Fontana on advice to an aspiring writer
03:21
Dorothy Fontana on how the business has changed since she started
02:30

Women

View Topic
Dorothy Fontana on the challenges of being a woman writer and using D.C. Fontana on her scripts so that she would be given a chance
03:01
Dorothy Fontana on "Uhura" and "Number One"- one of the first major female black characters, on Star Trek
01:29
Dorothy  Fontana on the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", over which she argued with Gene Rodenberry about the portrayal of women; she had a different ending
01:55
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco
03:13
Professions

Writers

View Profession
Dorothy Fontana on being mentored in television writing by Samuel Peeples
01:11
Dorothy Fontana on the challenges of being a woman writer and using D.C. Fontana on her scripts so that she would be given a chance
03:01
Dorothy Fontana on her writing process and philosophy
10:15
Dorothy Fontana on advice to an aspiring writer
03:22
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on writing for Then Came Bronson
00:51
Dorothy Fontana on writing two scripts for The Six Million Dollar Man and getting NASA's full cooperation
02:59

Animation

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on being associate producer of Star Trek: The Animated Series
09:38
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek: The Animated Series storylines
02:07
Dorothy Fontana on writing for various animated series, and on how the technology has changed
02:07

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on becoming secretary for Del Reisman and Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant; and her early involvement in the Writers Guild
04:11
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco
03:47

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on writing for Dallas early in its run
02:04

Drama Series

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on writing the episode "The Beau" for The Waltons
02:28

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC
01:02
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's creation of aliens using "the Horta" from "The Devil in the Dark" episode as an example; on the technology used in Star Trek's world
04:33
Dorothy Fontana on the messages incorporated into Star Trek scripts
02:27
Dorothy Fontana on writing for Star Trek
28:38
Dorothy Fontana on being executive story consultant on Logan's Run
03:17
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Land of the Lost
00:34
Dorothy Fontana on the characters and storylines of Star Trek: The Next Generation
18:06
Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
01:34
Dorothy Fontana on Babylon 5  and on Michael Straczynski's vision for the series
05:28
Dorothy Fontana on Earth: Final Conflict
01:57

Western Series

View Genre
Dorothy Fontana on the first story she sold for television on The Tall Man
01:19
Dorothy Fontana briefly on writing scripts for Shotgun Slade and Frontier Circus
02:25
Dorothy Fontana on writing three scripts for Bonanza
01:10
Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Big Valley
02:15
Dorothy Fontana on writing for Here Come the Brides
01:03
People

Lucille Ball

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Dorothy Fontana on the status of Desilu Studios at the time Star Trek was being developed (Lucille Ball)
01:02

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

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Dorothy Fontana on Earth: Final Conflict
01:57

Ellen Corby

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Dorothy Fontana on writing the episode "The Beau" for The Waltons starring Ellen Corby
02:28

Oliver Crawford

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Dorothy Fontana on Oliver Crawford and Richard Matheson's work on Star Trek
00:58

James Doohan

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Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek (James Doohan as "Scotty")
00:43

Harlan Ellison

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Dorothy Fontana on Harlan Ellison's work on Star Trek  on the episode "City on the Edge of Forever"
00:42

David Gerrold

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Dorothy Fontana on her favorite episodes of Star Trek including "The Trouble with Tribbles" written by David Gerrold
01:08

Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Dorothy Fontana on writing the episode "The Beau" for The Waltons created by Earl Hamner, Jr.
02:28

Matt Jefferies

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Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's initial production crew and on developing the look of the series and of the starship including Matt Jefferies
03:36

George Clayton Johnson

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Dorothy Fontana on George Clayton Johnson's work on Star Trek
00:55

DeForest Kelley

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Dorothy Fontana on the casting of Star Trek (DeForest Kelley )
01:40
Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek and their characters (DeForest Kelley as "Bones McCoy")
00:32

Walter Koenig

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Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek and their characters (Walter Koenig as "Chekov")
02:37

Quinn Martin

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Streets of San Francisco produced by Quinn Martin
03:13

Richard Matheson

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Dorothy Fontana on Oliver Crawford and Richard Matheson's work on Star Trek
00:58

Nichelle Nichols

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Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek and their characters (Nichelle Nichols as "Nyota Uhura")
02:20

Leonard Nimoy

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Dorothy Fontana on the first story she sold for television on The Tall Man starring Leonard Nimoy
01:19
Dorothy Fontana on Leonard Nimoy and his character "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
01:32

Samuel A. Peeples

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Dorothy Fontana on being mentored in television writing by Samuel Peeples
01:11
Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC (Samuel A, Peeples)
04:58

Del Reisman

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Dorothy Fontana on becoming secretary for Del Reisman and Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant; and her early involvement in the Writers Guild
04:11

Gene Roddenberry

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Dorothy Fontana on becoming secretary for Del Reisman and Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant; and her early involvement in the Writers Guild
04:11
Dorothy Fontana on the original concept and vision of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, the pilot process, and the sale of the series to NBC
04:58
Dorothy Fontana on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek's production schedule and how the series was initially picked up
03:36
Dorothy Fontana on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek's initial production crew and on developing the look of the series and of the starship
03:36
Dorothy Fontana on her least-favorite episode of Star Trek; Klingons; on Gene Roddenberry's "Great Bird of the Galaxy" nickname
02:11
Dorothy Fontana on working on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Gene Roddenberry's legacy
06:17

William Shatner

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Dorothy Fontana on the casting of Star Trek (William Shatner)
01:40
Dorothy Fontana on William Shatner and his "Captain Kirk" character on Star Trek
01:42

Herbert F. Solow

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Dorothy Fontana on Star Trek's production schedule and how the series was initially picked up (Herbert F. Solow)
03:36

Barbara Stanwyck

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for The Big Valley starring Barbara Stanwyck
02:12

J. Michael Straczynski

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Dorothy Fontana on Babylon 5  and on Michael Straczynski's vision for the series
05:27

George Takei

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Dorothy Fontana on the cast of Star Trek and their characters (George Takei as "Sulu")
01:06

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