(written from a Production point of view)
John C. Vallone (23 June 1953 – 15 March 2004; age 50) was the last art director, employed by Entertainment Effects Group (EEG) to serve on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, after Paramount Pictures employed Joe Jennings and Leon Harris had already done so as such.
The other art directors having already left the production, Vallone was brought into the production relatively late, after principal photography had wrapped, by EEG CEO Douglas Trumbull around March 1979, who made him responsible for the construction of the Klingon bridge (re-redesigned from both Jennings' original and Harris' and Harold Michelson's redesign, by Andrew Probert and Trumbull himself), and the Epsilon IX station monitor room sets on the combined Paramount Stages 12 and 14, as these live-action second-unit scenes had yet to be filmed, ultimately done in June 1979 – five months after first-unit filming had wrapped. Sets co-worker, Graphics Designer Lee Cole, has credited Vallone for being very daring and innovative, especially pleased by his introduction of the then yet unproven edge-lit plastic displays and the fiber opticts lighting, which according to Cole "were fabulously successful, beyond our wildest dreams" for the Klingon set, having called them a "pioneering feat in the film industry". Yet to turn 26 at that time, this had been his first major motion picture assignment, having previously worked for television only. (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 345-346)
As if to confirm Cole's assessment, novice Vallone became co-nominated for an Academy Award for his work on this film, along with his two established art director predecessors, together with Production Designer Harold Michelson and Set Decorator Linda DeScenna. It turned out to be Vallone's only industry award consideration.
After The Motion Picture, Vallone worked primarily as a production designer for theatrical features, particularly for director Walter Hill. He worked with Hill on the films Southern Comfort (1981, starring Keith Carradine, with cinematography by Andrew Laszlo), 48 Hrs. (1982, featuring Jonathan Banks and Denise Crosby), Streets of Fire (1984, featuring Ed Begley, Jr. and cinematography by Andrew Laszlo), Brewster's Millions (1985, starring Stephen Collins), and Red Heat (1988, with cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti).
Vallone worked on two other projects directed by The Motion Picture Effects Director Douglas Trumbull, the man who gave him his break in the theatrical movie industry: the 1983 short film New Magic (starring Gerrit Graham, with cinematography by Jim Dickson) and the science fiction film Brainstorm (starring Louise Fletcher, with cinematography by Richard Yuricich and set decoration by Linda DeScenna and Tom Pedigo). In the 1990s, he worked with director Renny Harlin on the films Die Hard 2 (1990, featuring Robert Costanzo, Colm Meaney and William Sadler), The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990, featuring Willie Garson), and Cliffhanger (1993, featuring Zach Grenier, Jeff McCarthy, Bruce McGill, and Paul Winfield).
Other films on which Vallone has worked include Commando (1985, with cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti), Predator (1987, on which he also served as associate producer), and Bad Boys (1995). His television work include the TV movies Dixie: Changing Habits (1983, featuring Robert Picardo), Shannon's Deal (1989, featuring Miguel Ferrer, Spencer Garrett and Stefan Gierasch), and Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002, starring Malcolm McDowell) and the television series Everwood.
Born in Philadelphia, Vallone studied at Carnegie Mellon University and New York University before embarking on a career in Hollywood in 1977, working as (assistant) art director for several television productions before being pegged by Trumbull less than two years later for The Motion Picture. In 2004, Vallone was living in Park City, Utah, when he drowned in a hot tub at the age of 50.