MATT JEFFERIES PASSED AWAY: Walter “Matt” Jefferies, the man whose graceful design of the U.S.S. Enterprise for the TV series Star Trek in 1964 was a science fiction landmark, passed away on Monday at age 82. Jefferies was a WWII B-17 aviator who later became a production designer in Hollywood. He worked on shows ranging from Ben Casey to Little House on the Prairie, but he’ll forever be known for the original Enterprise, which rests today in the Smithsonian, and has influenced the design of the main spacecraft in each successive version of the show, including the current Enterprise TV series.
Besides designing other spacecraft for the original series, Jefferies also designed many of the sets. Jefferies’ style on Trek perfectly bridged the gap between Hollywood’s pulpy 1950s designs (such as Forbidden Planet and This Island Earth) and the more technologically sophisticated shapes that Stanley Kubrick ushered in with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and George Lucas carried on with his Star Wars movies.
Star Trek.com has a tribute page to Jefferies, including a recent videotaped interview, where he explained how the design of the Enterprise, and its famous call sign, NCC-1701, came to be.
(Also posted on Blogcritics.)