Inside Star Trek issue 2: two days to make Spock’s ears, 90 minutes to get Nimoy into them

Inside Star Trek was a semi-official newsletter, published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. This connection gave the writers access to the actors, production crew and sets.

I own the complete run:

Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman

Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett

Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable

Here are highlights from issue 2, published August 1968.

Cover by the amazing Greg Jein

The cover drawing of the Klingon D7 is by accomplished model maker Greg Jein. He drew it in 1968, and by 1977 he was hired to construct an updated variant of the D7 for Star Trek: Phase II. Two years after that, he created the V’ger interior models for Star Trek: The Motion Picture on a very tight schedule. He told Cinefex magazine: “We called people all over town. There were probably close to twenty or thirty of us working on it, on and off. At least four weekends we didn’t go home at all. When it finally came out, we were still two or three days late.” (Issue 2.)

A close-up image of Greg Jein's cover sketch for Inside Star Trek #2 of the Klingon D7 ship.

Jein also worked on the two- and six-foot studio models of the Enterprise-D for Encounter at Farpoint and built other pieces for that episode, and contributed to other TNG episodes plus DS9, Voyager and many of the movies.

Jein is responsible for or contributed to 51 Star Trek models, but his first Trek product was this newsletter cover.

From Oz to Spock’s ears

Fred Phillips was already an accomplished make-up artist when he landed on the Enterprise. Asked by editor Ruth Berman about his career, he paused in a list of productions to ask “…what was that fantasy with Bert Lahr?” She replied “The Wizard of Oz?

When working on Oz sort of slips your mind, you’ve done a lot of important work. He added “The Wizard of Oz is actually where I got the training I’ve been able to execute on Outer Limits and this show.”

Berman asked about creating the Vulcan and Romulan ears:

I have to take an impression of the actor’s ears. It takes between 20 and 30 hours to make a pair of ears. I would normally need two days to get the ears ready, from impression to finished appliance. After you have the molds done, you pour the rubber in — and the room temperature and the temperature of all the ingredients have to be inside a range of 65 to 71 degrees. Then it takes four hours cooking in the oven and three hours cooling. Usually what I do is put the molds in the oven when I get home from work around eight, and then I can take them out around midnight. You could take them out sooner but then the molds would crack.”

Make-up man Fred Philips at work on Spock, in preparation for filming Amok Time. The photo is in colour and shows Phillips, Leonard Nimoy, plus other make-up artists and actors in the background.
Phillips at work for Amok Time

Berman asked if appliances are ever reused, and Phillips recounted a story I believe appears in print only here. “They had wanted a custom-built head for the aliens in the show we’re doing this week, The Empath — but there just wasn’t time. I was able to substitute with a head that came from the pilot to Outer Limits.” There was only one alien in The Outer Limits pilot The Galaxy Being, but there are two Vians in The Empath, so that detail is unclear.

Phillips said getting Leonard Nimoy ready for the cameras usually took 90 minutes. Some characters took much longer. He showed Berman his sketch of the Gorgan from And the Children Shall Lead: “Now that one took a long time. It was for Melvin Belli. It looks like a mask, but it actually isn’t because the face has to be able to move freely.”

It’s an interesting story about a really poor episode, but at least lawyer Melvin Belli enjoyed his time on set. He told Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman in the book Captains’ Logs, “The most fun for me personally was my ‘melting’ death scene. Even though they had taken casts of my face much earlier, the makeup required for the scene still took the better part of the morning. They would shoot for a time, pause, then take me back to makeup to make me look more hideous.”

Inside Star Trek is an invaluable source of early Star Trek voices. I’ll cover each issue.

Click here to read other articles in this series.

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