Far Beyond the Stars

02-Jun-08 5:49 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black, Star Trek; 1 comment.

For the third time this year, I bring you news of several talented artists who have passed on.

Composer and Emmy winner Alexander Courage passed away last month at age 88. His works include the theme to the original Star Trek television series. Yet he received little of his dues from that famous piece. To cut costs, Gene Roddenberry wrote lyrics to accompany Mr. Courage's music. Despite no intention of using the (awful) lyrics, Mr. Roddenberry was then able to claim half the royalties that would've otherwise gone to the song's rightful creator. Whether or not any reparations were ever made between the two, I am unsure. Snopes states that "After scoring a couple of first-season episodes, Courage declined to perform any further musical work for the series." But his influence on what eventually became the Star Trek franchise is noted in his filmography, which gives him attribution on practically every Star Trek movie, show, and game of the last half-century.

Shortly thereafter, the musical world also suffered the loss of Earle Hagen, also aged 88. Mr. Hagen was responsible for such memorable theme songs as those of The Dick Van Dyke Show and Andy Griffith. These are the shows I grew up on, and though these comedies played out in a different situation every week, we were always introduced to them with the familiar opening sequences and tunes. Thank you, Mr. Hagen, for leaving that mark.

I'd intended for these two passings to be the extent of this post, but I unfortunately recently learned of two others. Unlike the musicians above, Robert Justman's talent was in directing and producing for both TOS and TNG. Though he worked on only one season of TNG, his decision to cast Patrick Stewart over Gene Roddenberry's objections was a decision with an indelible mark on Trek lore. Mr. Justman died last month at age 82.

Also a directorial veteran of TOS was Joseph Pevney, who gave us such episodes as The City on the Edge of Forever and The Trouble with Tribbles. Possibly more than any episodes in TOS's short run, these two have spawned numerous plots, threads, and novels throughout the Trek timeline. Mr. Pevney was 96 when he passed.

How fortunate we are to have had the musical and directing talents of these men, both within Star Trek and without; how fortunate they were to have lived such long and notable lives.

(Hat tips to TrekToday and Dayton Ward)

One Response to “Far Beyond the Stars”

  1. Ken Gagne adds:

    Alexander Courage's memorial service was held on June 29th. Reflections from that day are shared on the Web site of the Film Music Society. (Hat tip to TrekToday)