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Matt Jefferies unofficial credit Matt Jefferies official credit
Jefferies' "unofficial" credit...
...and his "official" one
Star Trek The Original Series - Season Three card A65
...on his 1999 individual trading card he was honored with
"Some day, I'll fly away, way, way beyond the clouds!"
– Richard L. Jefferies, brother, 2008, citing a childhood statement Matt Jefferies made. [1]
"Matt Jefferies was the most decent and devoted Human being on the production team. He never lost his cool, never lost his temper."
– Robert H. Justman, Producer, 1996. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 169)

Walter Matthew "Matt" Jefferies, Jr. (12 August 192121 July 2003; age 81), nicknamed "Jeff" by his family and older brother to fellow Star Trek designer John Jefferies, was the art director and production designer on all three seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series, including the two pilot episodes, and has done preliminary work as technical consultant on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, or rather its immediate predecessor, Star Trek: Phase II.

Star Trek[]

Visually, it was very much Matt Jefferies who has established the look of Star Trek and most of his successors on the later Star Trek productions were huge admirers of him, trying to preserve as much as possible of his design influences in the productions they themselves were working on. As such, his contributions had been signature and not to be underestimated, and in the process he has over the years attained a true legendary status within the Star Trek community. It was Jefferies who designed the original Enterprise studio model with its saucer-shaped hull, engineering hull, and two nacelles, as well as the type 1 and type 2 phaser designs seen in The Original Series, for which he, along with brother John, did the design drawings. His signature design survived to influence starship designs in all subsequent Star Trek productions, as was in equal measure his bridge design. Apart from these, he designed the vast majority of the numerous sets, landscapes, props, and other ships (most notably the Klingon D7-class) for the original series.

Trading card company SkyBox International honored Jefferies with an individual autograph card, number A65, as part of their 1999 Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Three trading card set. As to underscore Jefferies' importance to the creation of the Original Series, the company made his a rare "chase card" that currently commands premium prices on second-hand markets like eBay.

His work on Star Trek earned Jefferies a 1969 Emmy Award nomination, as well as a retrospective 2000 Shooting Star Award.

The Original Series[]

His involvement in the Star Trek franchise started in 1964, when Gene Roddenberry asked Matt Jefferies to design a starship for his new TV series. Jefferies came to the attention of Roddenberry after the latter saw the 1957 Cold War movie Bombers B-52, on which Jefferies, as one of his earliest motion picture contributions, had served as a production designer, albeit uncredited. It was on the initiative of Roddenberry that Jefferies was unexpectedly released from the production he was working on at the time by his employer, Desilu Studios, to start work on the very first Star Trek pilot, "The Cage". (The Making of Star Trek, p. 79) Upon meeting in early Autumn 1964, both men took an immediate shining to one and other, as they shared a common history. Both men had served in World War II as Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber pilots, though Roddenberry had served in the Pacific theater, whereas Jefferies had flown over Africa and Europe, [1] and as per Jefferies, "when he came in, why, we re-fought WWII for about twenty minutes" before getting down to business. [2](X) After Roddenberry had explained what he wanted to see, and more importantly, what he did not want to see in the design of the new starship Enterprise, Jefferies remembered leaving the meeting elated, "I could make him laugh, and we seemed like a perfect combination in that he was a real head-in-the-clouds dreamer, and I was a nuts-and-bolts man." (Star Trek Memories, p. 45) Little did he know upon leaving the meeting, what a challenge working on the show proved to be the next four years.

When Jefferies reported in for work on the first pilot, shortly after his interview with Roddenberry, he recalled, "When I started on Star Trek, Gene didn't even have an office, much less a secretary. Only Herb [Solow] was on the lot. But Gene came to the lot most days, and at first I dealt directly with him. Then the studio brought in a man by the name of Franz Bachelin, an old-time art director. They also brought in a friend of Desi [Arnaz], Art Director Pato Guzman from The Lucy Show. I was still a set designer, not an art director. I would have the bridge and the exterior of the ship to do and they were to do the rest." (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 114) In the end, Jefferies spent full time the better part of two months designing the ship, or as he himself had put it years later, "about six weeks of frustration," during which he "spent a pretty good batch of Lucille Ball's money." [3](X) Both Art Directors Guzman and subsequently Bachelin, brought in after the former left, were Jefferies' superiors on "The Cage" at the time. Jefferies usually worked out his designs on paper with pencil and charcoal in black and white, but occasionally created full-color renderings, such as for the Enterprise – which actually sold Jefferies' final exterior design of the ship to the producers – and the bridge, in order to give the producers a more rounded feel for the intended design. However, after "The Cage" he all but dispensed with the full-color practice for the Original Series (though he did highlight a few of his later black-and-white sketches with additional colors).

The following year, with both Guzman and Bachelin gone, Jefferies was called back to the Star Trek production to work on the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before", though now he had some bones to pick, "There were some problems in becoming an "official" art director. The application was put in to the union and I waited. A good friend of mine who was on the executive board told me what was happening. When my acceptance came up at a meeting, the president said, "Well, we'll table that for the time being, until the series [Star Trek] is canceled – there's no way it will get renewed. Matt won't be working, and Matt isn't working, that will take care of the problem and we can forget him." Well, I went and told Gene about it. Gene called Herb. Herb called me over and told me, "You're going to be working here as an art director until you are approved and sworn in, even if we have to keep you sweeping the stages to do it!" Well, thanks to Herb, I stayed. It finally got sorted out, and I got my official credit, sometime after the first season of Star Trek." (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 114) It did not restrain Jefferies however, to work on the second pilot as set designer though. Incidentally, for "The Cage", Jefferies had already been credited as "Assistant Art Director", though per union rules he, being formally still a "Set Designer", was at that time not yet entitled to carry the title. But since the pilot was not aired, it never had been an issue.

Now officially designated "Art Director", Jefferies started to work on the first season regular series run, starting with the first regular series episode in 1966. He, at first, worked under his Desilu superior, fellow Art Director Rolland M. Brooks (who had suggested Jefferies to Roddenberry in the first place) on the first season and the beginning of the second. After Brooks left the series, Jefferies became the sole production designer, or rather art director, for Star Trek. Very much one of the most influential production staffers on the visual look of The Original Series, since then attaining a near legendary status, at least where the Star Trek community is concerned, Jefferies was held in highest regard by producers Roddenberry and Robert Justman, as well as by studio executive Solow, throughout his tenure at the franchise. Justman, as treasurer, in particularly, was deeply impressed with Jefferies' abilities to make do with the meager means he was allocated with, especially since he was the one who had to continuously inform Jefferies that his budget was slashed, every time the studio lowered the series' budget, and his art department was among the first where Justman looked for money to be saved.

A very appreciative Justman had said this of Jefferies, "His eyes got watery and he would find it difficult to speak when an over-budget show forced me to take away half his construction money. And I'd demand the impossible, that he still provide us with believable sets for less money then it should cost. He'd gulp a bit and finally said, in a very throaty voice, "Well...let me see what I can do. I'll give it a try." So Matt would try harder [note: from the second season onward greatly aided by his younger brother, Set Designer John, as well as Set Decorator John Dwyer and his team, who became very adept at scavenging for any and all items that could be used in set construction], and he always came through for us. And I always felt guilty, so I sent him a memo of thanks and prodded Gene to do the same. By union contract, Matt wasn't entitled to a raise until after his first six months as a full-fledged Art Director. I talked Gene into discussing the problem with Solow. He did, and Herb "bumped him up" immediately." But now, Jefferies' hard-won battle to officially gain the "Art Director" title back-fired on him. The act of appreciation did not sit well with his own Art Directors Guild labor union after having been so recently appointed "Art Director". Promoted to "Production Designer", a very desirable higher status title at the time (coming with its complementary financial amenities), the union effectively blocked his promotion, only allowing the use of the title on the first five aired regular series episodes (including the aired second pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", for which he originally had been credited as "Set Designer"), where the title had already been featured. Nevertheless, Justman was determined to officially get Jefferies the title he so much believed he deserved and continued to lobby for it, though he ultimately never succeeded in doing so. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 111, 169, 173)

Layout stage 10 planet set design by Matt Jefferies

Jefferies' planet set layout for Desilu Stage 10

While his designs of the Enterprise and the bridge were usually, and equally easily, regarded as his most signature contributions, the majority of his work was actually taken up by designing the sets of the series. Jefferies commented on this part of his work, regarding the practical considerations he had to take into account, "The planet set would keep you busy, because we kept 20 feet on one side and one end of the set clear so that rolled equipment could be moved on it. Which meant that – and you always had to shoot into – into the far corner to get any depth of feeling. And our actors would have to move back and forward across it. So usually we would set up with foreground pieces. We could come up with four basic setups, and we shoot one and move to the next one and by the time they went to the third one, we had converted the first two, so that every setup on the stage could come up with a different foreground piece and a bit of a different look, but still gunning into the far end. So days working on the planet, usually I rarely ever got by the office because you're just shifting according to eyeball or design by the toe of your shoe, I guess you could call it." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier") Jefferies therefore was frequently on set, coordinating with the director for any given episode, de facto operating as a second-unit director to make sure that the best possible shots with the by him designed sets were achieved.

D.C. Fontana, the Original Series script editor (and who had conducted the very first known interview with him for a 1968 Inside Star Trek fanzine issue) recollected an incident with Jefferies, that gave some insight into the character of Jefferies as a colleague, "Matt would come up with some wonderful, wonderful drawings and renderings for the set. Then Gene would say, "Yeah I like this part, I don't like that part." So, then Matt would go back to the drawing board. He had great slides of his renderings and of the sets themselves, and I believe they were donated to a museum or an university, I'm not sure which now [Note: Fontana was partially wrong in her recollections, Jefferies donated his aviation library, not his Star Trek collection – see below]. What he would do, and this is kind of interesting, for Christmas presents, he would buy jigsaw puzzles, and gesso them over so they were blank and the he'd put them together and gesso them. And the he would paint scenes of his own devising on them. For fellow flyers, he would put on planes, various kinds, sometimes their own planes. For people like me, and I have one, he would do sets from Star Trek. But then he would, after he'd finished painting them and they were dry, he'd break up the puzzles into their component parts, put them in an unmarked box and give it to you, so you had to figure out what it was, putting the puzzle back together. And I happen to have the front gate of "The Squire of Gothos"". (TOS Season 2 DVD special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier")

As touched upon earlier, upon the departure of Rolland Brooks, Jefferies became the sole production staffer whose responsibilities encompassed both functions that were in later Star Trek television productions divided between on the one hand production designers/art directors and on the other hand production illustrators. As art director he was also responsible for the vast majority of the symbols and signage seen in the series (a notable exception having been the IDIC symbol, which was designed by William Ware Theiss), a function which too was spun off as "scenic artist" in the later Star Trek incarnations. That being said, and despite the importance of his role, he never had a large department at his disposal to help him out with the work. Yet, those he had, he was very appreciative of, as he emphatically and repeatedly stated in later life, "And of course, blessed with not only John Dwyer, who was a very talented workaholic, and Jim Rugg on special effects, and what went on upstairs in the Art Department, I could depend on brother John, or whoever else was up there, that if any questions came up out of the mail [Note: internal] about how something was working, they could solve it. And with that kind of help, Hell, you can't lose! I was in great shape!(...)I think really the high point of that whole thing – there were many high points really – were the people I worked with. John Dwyer, he's a marvel, Al Francis was as a cameraman, and like my brother or Joe Jennings and some of the others that would occasionally work. Normally, we had a very small Art Department with Star Trek. Sometimes there were only two. But I think all of them enjoyed what they were doing. And Lord knows, it did for me. And with the load they picked up, it made my end possible. But that – the people have always been the big part of any of the shows I've worked on." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier")

Designing the first Star Trek model kits[]

D7-class studio model held by Matt Jefferies

Jefferies holding his "extra-curricular activity"

During the production of the second season of the Original Series Matt Jefferies became acquainted with Stephen Edward Poe, whom he befriended. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 11) Poe had been given unrestricted access to the production for the reference book The Making of Star Trek, he was writing at the time, as part of the deal he had brokered between Desilu and model kit company Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT). Poe's primary responsibility however, was to develop a Star Trek model kit line for his employer and it was to this end that he was reverted by Roddenberry to Jefferies. The choice for the very first Star Trek model kit was an obvious one, the Enterprise (No. S921), released in 1966 and a runaway success right from the bat with over a million copies sold at that time according to Jefferies. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 9, p. 66) Thrilled by its success, AMT immediately commissioned another one, the near equally successful 1968 Klingon battle cruiser kit (No. S952). One of the more ironic aspects of Jefferies' work for AMT was that he designed the Klingon D7 battle cruiser exclusively for them, and not for the studio, who had not commissioned it, despite assertions and assumptions by numerous reference authors, fans and the franchise itself to the contrary afterwards; [2] "It was strictly an extra-curricular activity on my part," stated Jefferies at the time. (Inside Star Trek, issue 4, pp. 3-4) Nevertheless, under their exclusivity agreement the strapped-for-cash studio immediately appropriated one of AMT's master tooling models for shooting purposes. The model was subsequently turned over to the Howard Anderson Company for final detailing and filming stock footage for use in the third season of the show. As it turned out, the D7 went on to become yet another quintessential Star Trek design by Jefferies.

It should be noted that it was Jefferies who drew up the construction plans for the first three outings in AMT's Star Trek model kit line, that of the 1974 Galileo Class F shuttlecraft included, in his spare time and in initial conjuncture with Poe, but that both men were excluded from any and all royalties arrangements resulting from their hugely successful sales. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, p. 173) From this it could be inferred that the Galileo model kit was slated for a release during the production of the Original Series, but that its cancellation had postponed the release until its renewed popularity in syndication.

Star Trek: Phase II[]

Matt Jefferies and Jim Rugg

Discussing Phase II with special effects artist Jim Rugg (r)

In a move that was somewhat reminiscent of the one he made back in 1964, Gene Roddenberry sounded Matt Jefferies out in 1977 to rejoin his efforts to revitalize the live-action franchise, or as brother Richard had put it, "January 1977, Michael Landon informed Matt that Gene had asked to "borrow" his art director for a few days." (Beyond the Clouds, p. 250) Jefferies came aboard in June 1977 for the Star Trek: Phase II television project that was just started up that month, but declined tenure as Art Director, as he was unwilling to give up his job at Landon's production, Little House on the Prairie. In his stead, he recommended the by him aforementioned Joe Jennings, who had been his assistant during the original second season, for the position and who was subsequently hired as art director the following month. Additionally, he recommended Star Trek veteran Jim Rugg for the special effects. On a temporary basis, as technical consultant, he did preliminary work in the summer on the redesign of the Enterprise, using as starting point the ship he designed for the Original Series, and which eventually resulted in the fabrication of detailed construction blueprints(X) based on his preliminary redesign sketches for the build of the Phase II Enterprise studio model. Other things Jefferies looked into for the project, while Little House was in hiatus between April and September, were the bridge, the air tram station, and a redesign for the Galileo shuttlecraft. The operational manager for Phase II, Producer Robert Goodwin, noted in a progress memo dated 3 August 1977, "The shell [note: of the bridge] should be completed by the end of August. At the same time, Matt Jefferies, Joe Jennings and special-effects man Jim Rugg are at work designing and researching new types of instrumentation that will be used within the bridge, including new kinds of computer graphic displays, touch control switches, etc." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 36)

Though not a science fiction fan, Jefferies had by this time taken an interest in real world spaceflight, particularly NASA's space shuttle program and in no small part due to the research he was doing in the summer and autumn of 1977 for Phase II, when he visited NASA and JPL on a number of occasions, sent by Goodwin on fact-finding missions, often accompanied by Jim Rugg and/or Joe Jennings. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 52) And while he was not present the year previously with the other Star Trek alumni at the highly publicized unveiling of the Enterprise (OV-101) space shuttle orbiter, the one named for his starship, he did on NASA's invitation attend the first free-flight test of the shuttle on 12 August 1977. It resulted in one of the pieces of artwork, mentioned below. (Beyond the Clouds, pp. 285-286)

His involvement ended permanently in early November, when the production of Little House was in full swing again. Still, even after Phase II was upgraded to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and a new Enterprise model had to be built, it was Roddenberry who ordained that the lines set by Jefferies were to be followed, vetoing any notion of a complete redesign. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 26-28 & color inset; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, pp. 84-85)

Yet, one element that Jefferies had done for Phase II did make it onto the screen in the Motion Picture. On 9 September 1977 – almost one year to the day after the unveiling of the first space shuttle, whereas he himself had less than a month earlier attended its first free flight test – he received a memo from Roddenberry who, inspired by a letter he had received from a fan, wrote, "Some fans have suggested that our new Enterprise should carry a plaque somewhere which commemorates the fact it was named after the first space shuttle launched from Earth in the 1970's. This is an intriguing idea. It also has publicity advantages if properly released at the right time. It won't hurt NASA's feelings either. I'll leave it to you where you want it on the vessel and who should design it." Jefferies, the accomplished aviation artist, needed no further enticement to create the concept artwork for the historical vessels named USS Enterprise that served as the source for the by Rick Sternbach created backlit transparencies seen on the wall of the recreation deck, starting yet another tradition that was adhered to in later Star Trek live-action incarnations. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 94; Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue SP11, p. 8)

Later brushes with the Star Trek franchise[]

Never a science fiction fan, Star Trek was for Matt Jefferies an assignment like any of his others, albeit one he tackled with professionalism, and when the Original Series wrapped, he moved on, not giving a second thought on the work he had done on the show. He was therefore taken aback and mystified when Star Trek became the runaway success it did in syndication in the 1970s. He admitted in 1987, "I still don't understand it, I think if we'd known it was gonna last so long and be studied by so many people we'd probably have been so frightened of it we'd never have been able to make a decision." (Cinefantastique, Vol 17 #2, p. 27) While honored by the growing admiration, it was also a reason for him to shy away from every form of public expression of acclaim, the Star Trek conventions in particular, though not for want of invitations as he received a multitude of them. Only trice did Jefferies made a public Star Trek appearance, and the first one was already somewhat of a traumatic experience for him. A bit ushered on by the Paramount Marketing and Licensing Department, he reluctantly conceded to attend the highly-publicized 1996 Pasadena Star Trek convention, but once there he was mobbed by well-meaning admirers to such an extent, that he had to be delivered by police. Jefferies vowed to his wife, Mary-Ann, never to attend a convention again. (Beyond the Clouds, p. 264)

Four years later though, he relented a bit when Star Trek Archivist Penny Juday asked him personally to attend William Campbell's FantastiCon V 2K(X) science fiction convention, Star Trek themed that year and held on 14-16 July, 2000, in Los Angeles. Campbell had founded this convention as a charity for the benefit of "Motion Picture & Television Fund", a charitable organization that offered assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources. Together with a multitude of other Star Trek staffers he attended the Gala Awards Dinner on the 14th, and was pleasantly surprised when he was awarded by the organization with the honorary Shooting Star Award, which was presented to Jefferies by Juday. [4]

Born and raised with a deep sense of the Christian belief system, Jefferies followed up on his attendance at Campbell's charity event the subsequent year, when he, along with his brother John, sold off virtually all of their Original Series production items, including all of his design art, still in their possession in the Profiles in History The Star Trek Auction of 12 December 2001, in order to raise funding for Campbell's charity, the "Motion Picture & Television Fund". Prior to the auction, most of Jefferies' Star Trek design art, much of which previously unseen, was published in Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook and the interview issues of Star Trek: The Magazine. The proceeds from the auction were such, that it helped to build the "Matt and Mary Ann Jefferies Wing of the Motion Picture & Television Fund Home" for destitute retirees. (TOS Season 2 DVD: "The Trouble with Tribbles", text commentary)

In addition to his reluctance of engaging in the Star Trek cultural phenomena, Jefferies has confessed to a lack of enthrallment for all post-Original Series reincarnations of Star Trek, having stated in a BBC interview, shortly before his death in 2003, in regard to The Motion Picture, "I went to the first movie. I was invited to the screening. I fell asleep. John Dwyer noticed it from across the screening room and said, "Matt, wake up." Fortunately nobody else in there knew me.", and in regard to Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Gene asked me how I liked the show, and I said that he had taken the bridge of my ship and turned it into the lobby of the Hilton. And I have just never watched any of them since. I’m lost." [5](X) Still, he has expressed his professional admiration for his successors on the newer shows, when he exclaimed, "I'm dumbfounded by what you've people have done!" at the June 2001 Visual Effects Society Festival, his third and last public Star Trek appearance and where he was one of the Star Trek visual effects guests of honor. [6](X)

Star Trek legacy[]

Nevertheless, it was in his honor that the crawl spaces on all Starfleet vessels were named Jefferies tubes, a reference used throughout the entire Star Trek franchise. The first recorded use of the nomenclature was the "SHOT – JEFFERIES TUBE" script reference in the draft of 14 September 1967 of "Journey to Babel" (scene 36, p. 21, where the body of Gav was stashed), though it was not heard in the episode, but had already been a long-running behind-the-scenes production in-joke during the production of the Original Series, as Jefferies himself indicated: "Somebody hung the name Jefferies Tube on it. It wasn't me, but the name stuck and I used it in some of my sketches!"" (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 72) Successor Herman Zimmerman helped perpetuate the term into canon, as Penny Juday related in 2002, "The Jefferies tube is used even today. The last feature is an example, where she took the Jefferies tube and made it really big. That's where you see the Viceroy and you see Commander Riker fighting together, is inside a larger version of the Jefferies tube. So, Herman Zimmerman has made sure that the name sticks, and he has always idolized Matt and his work. And he has always tried to incorporate Matt's work and designs and to make sure that the theme is carried on into the new TV series and all of the features. Almost all the time – not in every episode of course – but when we need a crawl space, that's exactly what we use; It's always called a Jefferies tube." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier") Still, the actual canonization only occurred under the auspices of Zimmerman's successor, Richard James, in the Next Generation season three episode, "The Hunted". Additionally, Matt Jefferies was honored when the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "First Flight" mentioned a Captain Jefferies, who was also named in his honor.

Robert Justman and Matt Jeffries

Old friends reunited... with Robert Justman (l) in Jefferies' final brush with the Star Trek franchise, 15 July 2003

Aside from Zimmerman, Jefferies became revered by numerous other later Star Trek production staffers, especially by those working in the art and visual effects departments, such as Doug Drexler (whose marriage with Dorothy Duder Jefferies attended, [7](X)) Michael Okuda (with whom Jefferies developed a friendship later in life), Bill George, and many others. How evident this reverence was, was exemplified when Jefferies was lured to Paramount Pictures under the pretense of discussing a video chronicling the origins of The Original Series (actually the TOS Season 2 DVD "Designing the Final Frontier" special, released a year later). Upon entering the screening room Jefferies was greeted by a host of Star Trek staffers, old and new, and family members who had assembled to honor him. Hosted by Penny Juday, a humbled Jefferies made use of the surprise tribute, to again express his appreciation, but also his befuddlement, for the accolades his Star Trek work had gained him, "I find it very difficult to comprehend, honestly, how design work that I did oh-so-many years ago has been accepted and continues to be accepted by millions of Star Trek fans throughout the world." The tribute took place on 15 July 2003, a mere six days before his death. (Beyond the Clouds, pp. 285-286) How special the place was Jefferies held within the Star Trek community, was exemplified by the fact that the documentary was also included as the "A Tribute to Matt Jefferies"-special feature on the 2004 DVD and the 2009 Blu-ray releases of Star Trek Generations, even though Jefferies had never been involved with The Next Generation.

The, in hindsight, timely and extensive interview conducted around the turn of the millennium by Star Trek: The Magazine Editor Ben Robinson with Jefferies, published in parts over the 2000-2002 run of the publication, was the most elaborate one, he has ever given on his work on Star Trek, and has helped to clear up some of the misconceptions that had evolved over the years on some of his work in Star Trek lore, such as the origins of the USS Enterprise's registry number and the raison d'etre for the D7-class studio model. [8] [9]

The studio model of the famous starship Jefferies designed, so influential for starship designs conceived for all subsequent Star Trek productions, is residing in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, a further testament to the influence his design work had in the awareness of American pop culture. Of all the starship bridge versions created for the franchise, his original is the one most often recreated by far, for conventions, exhibitions, attractions, and even fan films.

Career outside Star Trek[]

Hailing from the East Coast and growing up in the Depression era, Matt Jefferies graduated from the Thomas Jefferson Highs School in Richmond, Virginia and directly enrolled into the military, where he attended a number of technical classes. As he had developed a passion for aviation in the interbellum years, he wanted to join the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) to serve as pilot and on the outset of World War II switched over from the infantry which he had initially joined. Jefferies elaborated, "I went in with an infantry National Guard unit, the First Regiment of the Virginia Greys. But I took a short discharge and re-enlisted, giving up my Tech Sergeant stripes and going back as a private in the Army Air Corps [sic.; the very recent previous name of the USAAF at the time]. Then I went to aircraft mechanics, engine specialist, B-17 schools and overseas – to England first in the summer of 1942, then to Africa, Sicily and Italy. In the last year and a half, I was in flight tests, where as a Tech Sergeant, I was engineer co-pilot in B-17's, B-24's, B-25's, and B-26's." Jefferies being reassigned to flight tests was indicative that he had completed his mandatory twenty-five combat missions. (Inside Star Trek, issue 4, p. 2)

As USAAF co-pilot of the B-17 bomber All American, Jefferies and his crew famously survived a January 1943 mid-air collision with a German Luftwaffe Messerschmidt 109 fighter plane over North Africa. A picture of his heavily damaged plane taken while it was limping back to the air field riveted contemporary American news readers – the B-17 was renowned for its capacity of absorbing brutal punishment, and Jefferies' B-17 was by no means the only one whose sturdiness saved their crews – , and became the primary reason for the plane to become repaired instead of being scrapped as was customary at the time for such heavily damaged planes. The All American, along with Jefferies, went on to fly subsequent missions over southern Europe. His war time services earned him the Air Medal (as it had Roddenberry) and the Bronze Star. (Beyond the Clouds, Chapter Seven)

Directly after the war Jefferies served as a Tech Inspector for the air force until his enlistment was up. His brush with death in the war did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for aviation after the war, and in the post-war years he personally restored his own plane, a 1935 Waco YOC. Its registry, NC17740, has in Star Trek lore given rise to a decades long myth that the USS Enterprise received its registry from his plane, a notion Jefferies finally dispelled himself in 2000. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 10, p. 26) Upon his discharge from the service he, after an apprenticeship under New York illustrator William Heaslip, became an aviation illustrator at the aircraft manufacturer Erco, followed in 1948 by an illustrator's position at the Library of Congress. A detailed cutaway drawing of a Seversky P-35 airplane, he did for the magazine Air Trails HOBBIES for Young Men earned Jefferies his first nation wide recognition. (Beyond the Clouds, p. 209)

Jefferies' first brush with the motion picture industry came in 1956, when he was asked by Warner Brothers for technical input on the X-2 Bell experimental rocket plane for the movie Toward the Unknown. Less than a year later, he received a phone-call from his younger brother, Hollywood Art Director Philip and the first of three brothers to work in the motion picture industry, who was looking for an art director for another Warner Brothers aviation movie, the earlier mentioned Cold War movie Bombers B-52. The studio was, at a time when art directors/production illustrators were relatively sparse in Hollywood, looking for an illustrator with detailed knowledge on the bomber, and as Matt Jefferies, the aviation enthusiast, had an extensive library of B-52 manuals, he was hired on the spot. Matt was the first of the Jefferies brothers, Philip persuaded to make the move to Hollywood, the youngest, John, being brought over later by him in 1962. (Beyond the Clouds, pp. 211, 213, 222)

Before Star Trek he further worked for Warner Brothers on the movies, The Old Man and the Sea (1958, as production illustrator), Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959, as set designer), the short-lived 1959-1960 science fiction series Men Into Space (for United Artists as set designer, being written for by Jerome Bixby and served by Richard C. Datin, Jr., the man who translated Jefferies' Enterprise designs into physical studio models five years later), and The Crowded Sky (1960, as set designer), all of which uncredited. In 1960 he moved over to Desilu Studios, where he worked as set designer on The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, and Ben Casey, the series – which was not Desilu property, but produced on their lot nevertheless – from which he was unexpectedly pulled by his employer, after he returned from a holiday, only to find himself working on the new Star Trek show. It gave him a scare though, as he recalled, "I had been working for Desilu as a sort of assistant art director in Ben Casey. And during the run of that show I's taken four weeks off, during which time I went to the New York World's Fair and visited with family in Virginia. At the end of my vacation I came back to work, walked into my little cubicle and found it empty. My drawing board and my drafting tools were gone. So I went into my boss's office and said, "I don't know where all my stuff is, but where the hell is the next Casey script?" He said, "Forget it, you're not on the show anymore." So I figured, "Well, I guess that serves me right for being a smartass and taking a month off." But as it turned out, my boss wasn't firing me at all." The boss who mischievously gave Jefferies such a scare was Rolland Brooks, having just recommended him to Roddenberry. (Star Trek Memories, pp. 44-45)

In between the first and second pilot of Star Trek Jefferies did,"(…) the pilot for Mission: Impossible and then a lovely little western called The Long Hunt of April Savage. Herb Solow was in charge of both of those [note: and both brought in by Solow for Desilu as accompanying properties for Star Trek, though April Savage did not make it beyond its pilot episode]. Then I was loaned out to Disney to do a set for one of their movies, after which I returned to Star Trek." (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 114)

Though mostly remembered for his work on Star Trek, at the time, it was but a small part of his career, and he has always considered it as such. It was aviation that has always been and remained his true passion. Afterwards he worked on productions such as the 1970s-1980s television series Love, American Style, Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and Dallas, with the television movie The Killing Stone (1978, and like Little House and Father Murphy, a Michael Landon production, with whom Jefferies had always enjoyed a close working relationship), also being his last recorded motion picture work. He particularly enjoyed working for Little House, which, apart from being a higher paid job and his close working relationship with Landon, also resonated with his childhood during the Depression Era, according to his brother Richard, and it was therefore that he choose not to accept tenure on the revitalized Star Trek franchise. [10] Richard further stated in this regard, elaborating on the fact that Matt, like most of his kin, valued strong family ties, "Matt often said that he enjoyed his work on Little House on the Prairie more than anything else he had done in the film industry. Matt was a history buff. He derived great pleasure from remembrances of days and events of the past. He marveled at the entrepreneurial zeal of the pioneers. The men and women who settled in the great plains and in the West were a sturdy and resourceful lot. Matt admired their spirit of adventure. Designing the sets for the mythical town of Walnut Grove brought to mind their ominous hardships. Michael Landon and John Hawkins shared Matt's passion for bringing to screen a true representation of family life on the prairie." (Beyond the Clouds, p. 245)

AMT Model kit S954 Leif Ericson 1968
Jefferies' side project for AMT, The Leif Ericson model kit.
The Leif Ericson as the Pegasus Original Series inspired Pegasus bridge concept for War of the Worlds project
Jefferies' Pegasus ship and bridge concept art for George Pal's War of the Worlds television project.
Matt Jefferies discusses War Of The Worlds TV series with George Pal
Jefferies and Pal (l) discussing the War Of The Worlds TV series; notice the disassembled starboard nacelle of the original eleven-foot Enterprise studio model in the background upon its return from its very first 1972 public exhibition.

While Poe was cooperating with, and interviewing Jefferies for his The Making of Star Trek book, both men came up with the 1968 Strategic Space Command concept for Poe's account AMT, being a themed science fiction model kit line AMT wanted to introduce in order to further capitalize on the huge success of their first two Star Trek model kits. [11](X) The first model kit of the line however, the Leif Ericson (No. S954) and again designed by Jefferies, was a commercial failure and the project was dropped by AMT. Still, Jefferies appeared to have been quite taken with his Leif Ericson design and resubmitted his design six years later in 1974 as the Pegasus when he was working as production designer for legendary science fiction movie maker George Pal for his proposed War of the Worlds television series, an intended follow-up of his classic 1953 Paramount Pictures War of the Worlds theatrical feature film. Unfortunately, like the Strategic Space Command concept, the proposed series too did not came to fruition, even though the series was briefly reconsidered in 1977 by Paramount for its projected fourth television network as a backup for Phase II, which was to serve as its flagship and on which Jefferies was now working. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, p. 59; [12](X) )

The design of the Leif Ericson and its accompanying shuttle, was subject of various attempts, firstly by Jefferies himself for Phase II, and subsequently by his successors to get it "officially" introduced into the franchise. (see The Leif Ericson for further particulars)

After his retirement, Jefferies became a prolific aviation artist, also remaining otherwise active in the world of aviation. While renowned in Star Trek lore, Jefferies likewise had something of a standing in aviation circles, as his brother Richard attested to, when Matt attended a forum held at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum, "A neatly attired man threaded his way through the crowd, reached out to shake Matt's hand, and said, "I feel honored to meet you. I have admired your work since I was a boy. I am head of this department. It is because of you and your extraordinary work that I became an engineer." Needless to say Matt was overcome by the adulation. He later remarked that never in his wildest dreams did he think that his work would inspire one to choose engineering as a profession." (Beyond the Clouds, p. 272)

Survived by his wife Mary-Ann, Matt Jefferies died of congestive heart failure (as did Roddenberry) after a fight with cancer, the illness his younger brother Phil (31 May 19256 April 1987; age 61) had already succumbed to years earlier. Matt Jefferies had a third, by eighteen months younger, sibling, the aforementioned Richard, who has written a biography on his brother, published in 2008 (see below). He was spurred on to write the work, not only by Star Trek fans, but by aviation fans as well, he met after the funeral service of his brother. On its title, Beyond the Clouds, Richard had stated in an interview, "When my brother was a little boy, he said, "Some day, I'll fly away, way, way beyond the clouds."" [13] His beloved Waco YOC airplane is currently owned by the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society and resides at the Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia. Prior to his death, Jefferies had donated in 1999 his extensive aviation library to the Wright State University, Ohio, where it is as the "Walter Matthew Jefferies Aviation Collection" part of the Special Collections and Archives. [14]

Star Trek credits[]

Star Trek awards[]

Matt Jefferies receives the Shooting Star Award from Penny Juday

Jefferies receiving his Shooting Star Award from Juday

Matt Jefferies received the following award and nomination for his work on Star Trek, incidentally the only award considerations he has ever received for his work in the motion picture industry.

Emmy Award nomination[]

As "Art Director", Matt Jefferies was the only television Star Trek visual effects production illustrator ever considered as such for an Emmy Award, even though the latter title did not yet exist in the franchise at the time. The distinction between visual effects and special effects did not yet exist, and only came slowly into being from the mid-1980s onward. Until then the design of these were lumped together under the denomination "Art Director"/"Production Designer". This echoed what Jefferies himself had said in 1968 when he was asked to describe his duties, "I'm responsible for everything they photograph, except the people. It entails the initial designs of the sets, supervising the building, colors, painting, everything that's on the stage or location, having it ready for the camera and within the budget. It calls for working with the director, set decorator, carpenters, painters, special effects, the whole ball of wax." (Inside Star Trek, p. 2) After the split production designer was the title for the designers of special effects, such as props and, most notably, sets. But even though visual, and special effects are currently separate departments, production illustrator is a subordinate position under production designer, at least in the Star Trek franchise, and considered Art Department.

  • 1969 for TOS Season 3 in the category Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and Scenic Design, shared with set decorator John Dwyer.

Shooting Star Award[]

Jefferies received the following honorary Shooting Star Award from the FantastiCon Science-Fiction Convention

Star Trek interviews[]

Further reading[]


  1. For other pilots among Star Trek personnel, see Gene Roddenberry, James Doohan, Franz Bachelin, Michael Dorn, brother John Jefferies, Harold Livingston, and Stephen Edward Poe.
  2. Most ironically, it was in effect Poe himself who started the misconception by presenting the design drawings for the first time in his book (released shortly before the design was actually featured onscreen in the series), without mentioning its AMT origins.

External links[]