On December 29th, 1964 – forty-seven years ago today – the original filming model of the U.S.S. Enterprise was delivered to the Howard Anderson Company. Model maker Richard C. Datin, Jr., who worked for the company and oversaw the efforts of craftsmen Mel Keys, Vernon Sion, and Volmer Jensen, constructed the 11-foot “miniature” from a 1-foot prototype Datin himself built. The prototype and the larger model were of course based on the design created by Star Trek production artist Walter M. “Matt” Jefferies. After taking possession of the model, Datin would make a few minor adjustments prior to its use during the filming of the original Star Trek series’ first pilot, “The Cage.” He subsequently would make alterations to the model for the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and again once the show sold to NBC and filming began on the series’ first season.
As most of you probably know, the model has been on display off and on in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It originally hung in one of the first-level galleries during the late 1970s and early-mid 1980s. I snapped these two pictures with my crappy 110 camera in early 1986:
After a major restoration it was displayed as part of a temporary Star Trek exhibit during the mid 1990s. These days, it can be found on display in the lower level of the museum’s main gift store.
On January 24th of this year, Richard C. Datin passed away. After writing this piece honoring him and his contributions, I was contacted by his daughter. I had the privilege of corresponding and speaking with her about her dad and his life and career while conducting research for a tribute I eventually wrote for Star Trek Magazine. Though he had a very long career both in and out of Hollywood, Mr. Datin remained proud of his work for Star Trek, which continues to influence the franchise to this day.