Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Richard "Dick" Keith Singleton (23 February 19367 September 2000; age 64), credited as Dick Singleton, was a supervisor of development and construction of space ship scale miniatures and special effects components for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He was brought in on the movie in the spring of 1978 by Robert Abel to head the studio model filming facility of Astra Image Corporation, the subsidiary of the original visual effects company for the movie, Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A). One of the first models he handled was the travel pod model as his Astra colleague Andrew Probert remembered, recalling a humorous incident, "Dick Singleton was the head of the Seward facility, and he took it down proudly to Stage 9, were they were shooting the full-scale mock-up and all the Enterprise interiors. Everybody was pleased and impressed with the miniature, but James Doohan looked at it and said it was inaccurate as far as he was concerned, because he has one of his fingers missing and the Scotty in the model had all of his fingers. Everybody got a good laugh out of that and I think perhaps Dick even removed a piece of a finger from the miniature Doohan" (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 203)

Due to the visual effects debacle in late February 1979, RA&A and its subsidiary were released from the movie on 22 February and the staff given their notice. However, Singleton was rehired as model handler by Apogee, Inc. the subsequent month for whom he among others handled the K't'inga-class model. Singleton also made the glowing light on the neck of character Ilia and cooperated in the build of the large exterior V'ger model while at Apogee. On behalf of his new employer, Singleton became concurrently responsible for hiring additional production illustrators and graphics artists for The Motion Picture, which included Greg Wilzbach and Leslie Ekker, the latter of which describing Singleton as a "wonderful guy". (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 200)

Career outside Star Trek

Hailing from Oakland, California, Dick Singleton entered the United States Coast Guard for Reserve duty on 1 December 1953 until honorably discharged 12 June 1959. He subsequently became a draftsman and mechanical engineer, working for a succession of corporations and government institutions, designing equipment until 1963.

In 1963 Singleton decided to direct his designing skills into a more artistic direction, and to this end he entered the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, California. As it so happened this was also the alma mater of some of his future The Motion Picture co-workers, which included, aside from the above-mentioned Probert and Ekker (the latter of whom he had hired for the movie), Mark Stetson as well as former Star Trek alumnus William Ware Theiss and future alumni Gary Hutzel and Dana White. He graduated from the college in 1967. He subsequently founded his own Industrial Design Company in Beverly Hills in 1968, designing and building industrial traveling show exhibits, point of purchase exhibits, permanent corporate and museum exhibits as well as product, prototype, architectural, presentation and analysis models. During that period in time, NASA had been one of his clients. He closed down his company in 1978, becoming an independent contractor.

Being hired by Astra for The Motion Picture turned out to be Singleton's first and only recorded start in the motion picture industry, though it is known that he had already provided services to the industry as early as 1974 as propmaker for the movie The Mackintosh Man. After his stint at Apogee, he continued to work for the motion picture industry for another five years as a special project, model and effects supervisor, having worked on such movies as 2010 (1984) while subcontracted by Douglas Trumbull's Entertainment Effects Group. Due to the fact that Singleton, as subcontractor, has virtually never received an official credit, the total extent of his contributions to the industry is unknown, The Motion Picture being the sole recorded one. His children reported that 2010 had been the last motion picture he had contributed to.

From 1985 to 1995, Singleton resumed his career as he had started out as, being a production designer for a succession of corporations. From 1995 however, his designing career took a turn for the worse, as he found his services no longer in need and commissions started to dwindle, which he himself attributed to age discrimination. [1]

In 2000, Singleton was working as a Pinkerton security guard when he was suddenly struck by a massive cardiac arrest, to which he succumbed. He ashes were scattered on the island of Maui, Hawaii a few miles from the summit of Haleakala. Having been married twice, Singleton was survived by two children, son Leland and daughter Wendy, by his first wife.

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-NC unless otherwise noted.