We pay tribute to two Star Trek veterans who have away in May. Veteran television and film director Joseph Pevney and music composer and director Alexander Courage.
Joseph Pevney has passed away at the age of 96.
Pevney directed fourteen episodes of the original Star Trek, tying him with Marc Daniels as one of the series most prolific directors.Â Pevney directed some of the series’ most popular installments including “Amok Time,”Â “City on the Edge of Forever,” “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “Journey to Babel.”Â
“The first half of the second year of the show, when he was alternating with Marc Daniels, is regarded as the best part of the series,” said Jeff Bond, author of “The Music of Star Trek” and editor of the magazine Geek Monthly. “That’s when it hit its stride. There was more humor, it was more adventurous, and the tone, I think, was lighter.”
Bond said Pevney directed “the first real comedy episode of the series, ‘The Trouble With Tribbles,’ which was a complete, all-out comedy about the ship sort of getting infested with a bunch of furry creatures. And he certainly worked on some of the strongest dramatic episodes.”
George Takei, who played Sulu on the series, recalled Pevney as being “very organized and authoritarian” as a director.
“He was very precise in what he wanted,” Takei said, “but he was very relaxed — in fact, jovial — in the way he directed. I enjoyed working with him.”
Pevney’s son, Jay, said his father “loved the series and enjoyed working with the actors and being part of the beginning of it. He was surprised at the longevity of it because it was not a popular series at the time; it hit its real popularity [in syndication] after it was over.”
Pevney was a prolific television director from the 60’s to the 80’s and worked behind the camera on such series asÂ Wagon Train, The Munsters, The Fugitive, Bonanza, 12 O’Clock High, The Virginian, Adam-12, Marcus Welby, M.D., Emergency, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, Medical Center and Trapper John, M.D.
Born Sept. 15, 1911, in New York City, Pevney launched his more than 60-year show-business career in 1924 as a boy soprano in vaudeville.
After becoming an actor, he appeared on Broadway in the 1930s and ’40s in plays such as “Battle Hymn,” “The World We Make,” “Native Son” and “Home of the Brave.”
During World War II, he served in the Army Signal Corps and staged revues for troops in Europe.
After the war, Pevney was part of actor Paul Muni’s “Key Largo” troupe when he arrived in Los Angeles. He made his film debut as the piano-playing killer in the 1946 film noir “Nocturne,” starring George Raft.
Pevney went on to direct more than 35 movies, most of them in the 1950s, including Meet Danny Wilson, starring Frank Sinatra and Shelley Winters; 3 Ring Circus, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Female on the Beach, starring Joan Crawford and Jeff Chandler; and Twilight for the Gods, starring Rock Hudson and Cyd Charisse.
At his peak at Universal-International in 1957, Pevney had three movies open simultaneously in Los Angeles theaters: Man of a Thousand Faces, a biographical drama about silent film star Lon Chaney, starring James Cagney; Tammy and the Bachelor, a comedy-romance starring Debbie Reynolds; and The Midnight Story, a crime-drama starring Tony Curtis.
Pevney retired in 1985 and moved to Palm Desert several years later.
Also leaving us was Alexander Courage, the man who created the most memorable Star Trek music theme in history. The Emmy winning and Oscar-nominated composer died on May 15 at the age of 88.
He had well over 100 film and television projects to his credit, including music for big screen films like “U.S. Marshalls” and “Air Force One,” and TV shows “Lost in Space” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” however, it will be his innovative theme from the original 1960’s Star Trek series that will forever stick in people’s minds.
Courage also wrote scores and directed music for nearly all the Star Trek movies including the newest from J.J. Abrams due out in May 2009.