Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana: 1939-2019
Dorothy Catherine (D.C.) Fontana passed away peacefully last evening at the age of 80 after a brief illness.
Ms. Fontana gained global notoriety for her writing and story editing on the 1960’s television series Star Trek, as well as the 1970’s animated series, which she also associate produced. Her myth-building work on classic Trek blazed a trail for women, not only in television, but also in science fiction. Her well-known screen credit kept the fact of her gender a secret from most fans until they saw her picture in Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, one of the “bibles” of classic Trekker fandom.
Dorothy Fontana was responsible for creating Spock’s childhood history, including the essential story “Yesteryear,” which though produced for Star Trek: The Animated Series, is as powerful as the best episodes of the classic series. She established the characters of, and relationship between, Spock’s father and mother (Sarek and Amanda) in classic Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. It was Ms. Fontana’s development of the rare emotional travails of a half-human, half-Vulcan child … and adult (full of emotions, yet prohibited from expressing them), that made Spock such a unique character in the history of film and television.
Ms. Fontana shared writing credit with Gene Roddenberry on “Encounter at Farpoint,” the feature-length premiere for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was nominated for a Hugo Award. She penned further episodes of ST: TNG, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her last produced writing credit was an episode of the web-based series Star Trek: New Voyages entitled “To Serve All My Days,” which starred classic Trek’s Chekov, Walter Koenig.
Ms. Fontana’s writing credits also include episodes of: Then Came Bronson (her script, “Two Percent of Nothing,” co-written with Denne Bart Petitclerc, was nominated for a WGA Award); Ben Casey; The
Wild, Wild West; The Big Valley; Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man; Land of the Lost; The Streets of San Francisco; Kung Fu; The Waltons; Dallas; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Babylon 5; and the documentary, Bob Burns’ Hollywood Halloween (shared with Bob & Kathy Bums). Though best known for her television work, D.C. Fontana also wrote novels – including Trek’s “Vulcan’s Glory,” and “The Questor Tapes,” based on a pilot by Roddenberry. She also wrote a Trek comic book, and several video games, primarily in the science fiction genre.
For decades, Ms. Fontana was an ardent and active member of the Writers Guild of America, west, having served on its Board of Directors for two terms. She twice won the prestigious Morgan Cox award for Guild service: first in 1997 (shared with members of the Property Planning Committee), and again by herself in 2002. Recorded interviews with her from the Writers Guild and the TV Academy (among others) are available online.
Most recently employed as a senior lecturer at the American Film Institute, Ms. Fontana devotedly taught and mentored many classes of aspiring screenwriters, producers and directors by sharing a lifetime of expertise, craft, heart and integrity.
Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana was born in New Jersey in 1939, and is survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer Dennis Skotak. Please respect the family’s privacy. Send memorial donations to the Humane Society (www.humanesociety.org), Best Friends Animal Society (www.bestfriends.org), or the American Film Institute (www.afi.com).