Walter M. Jefferies

Designer of the 'Star Trek' starship 'Enterprise'

Walter Matthew Jefferies, art director and production designer: born Lebanon, Pennsylvania 12 August 1921; married; died Los Angeles 21 July 2003.

As designer of the original USS Enterprise, Walter M. Jefferies launched Star Trek on a five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before", seeking new life forms and civilisations in outer space, in the process encountering aliens such as the Klingons and the Romulans. It became a trek through 79 episodes and has spawned four television spin-offs, one cartoon series and 10 feature films.

Originally designated the NCC-1701, Jefferies' Enterprise became an icon of 1960s television, although the series was a flop when first aired on the American networks in 1966. It found a cult following only after going into syndication on local stations and eventually became a worldwide hit, spurred on by the first Moon landing, in 1969.

The ship itself - in the story, a 190,000-ton Constellation class cruiser belonging to the newly formed United Federation of Planets - was made distinctive by its saucer-shaped primary hull, separate engineering section and twin warp nacelles. "I decided that whatever we came up with had to be instantly recognisable," said Jefferies.

As well as creating the Enterprise and its shuttlecraft, Jefferies designed sets, props, the D-7 battle cruiser and the Klingon logo. Over the years, his contribution has been reverentially acknowledged with on-screen references to the ship's engineering tubes as the "Jefferies Tubes" and other salutations.

The latest television incarnation, Enterprise, a prequel set 150 years earlier than the 23rd-century original, features the starship Enterprise, the NX-01, which is based on Jefferies's concept drawings for the first series. Jefferies never worked on any of the television spin-offs or films, in which the ship's design evolved, and he rued the fact that his Navy-style bridge was turned into "the lobby of the Hilton".

In fact, his bridge was used as the blueprint for the design of the US Navy master communications centre at Naval Air Station San Diego, extending his influence beyond the "Trekkies" whose loyalty made Star Trek and its successors a cult phenomenon. Those fans also successfully lobbied the White House to change the name of the first space shuttle orbiter from Constitution to Enterprise.

Walter Matthew Jefferies was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1921, and started building model aircraft as a child after his family moved to Richmond, Virginia, when his father became chief engineer at a power plant there. Serving with the Army Air Corps during the Second World War, "Matt" Jefferies was a flight test engineer and co-piloted B-17 bombers. He was awarded both the Bronze Star and Air Medal.

Later, he and two of his three brothers, Philip and John, worked as art directors in Hollywood. Jefferies' first film was the US Air Force melodrama Bombers B-52 (retitled No Sleep Till Dawn in Britain, 1957) and he followed it by working on The Old Man and the Sea (1958), The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959) and the Second World War drama Never So Few (1959).

Jefferies subsequently became a production designer for television series such as The Untouchables, Ben Casey, Mission: Impossible, Little House on the Prairie and Dallas. But it was his work on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry and starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the pointy-eared Vulcan Mr Spock, that brought him wider recognition. In June, he was guest of honour at the premiere of a special documentary about him that is set to be included in the forthcoming Star Trek: Generations DVD.

Anthony Hayward

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
news
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith