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"[Bob Justman] was a treasure to me. He would listen wisely, with an honest ear, and respond helpfully whenever there were creative differences of opinion."

Robert H. Justman (13 July 192628 May 2008; age 81) was one of the pioneers behind the Star Trek phenomenon, as an assistant director and later a producer on Star Trek: The Original Series, and as Supervising Producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As far as the Star Trek community at large is concerned, Justman is considered the most influential staffer responsible for the creation of the Star Trek phenomenon, second only to creator Gene Roddenberry.

Star Trek affiliation[]

In early-October 1964, Gene Roddenberry wanted Justman to become the associate producer on "The Cage", the first pilot episode of Roddenberry's Star Trek. However, Justman rejected the offer, fearing he doesn't have enough post-production knowledge which such a show might demand. He recommended his friend, Byron Haskin for the work, not knowing that Roddenberry already contacted Haskin, who eventually got the job. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 29-31)

Star Trek: The Original Series[]

Nevertheless, a few weeks later, Desilu Studios Executive Herbert F. Solow contacted Justman to hire him as the assistant director for the same project (after he was recommended by various director friends of Solow, including James Goldstone). Justman by that time however, had already committed himself as assistant director to the production of the esperanto language horror movie, Incubus, incidentally starring William Shatner, of writer/director/producer Leslie Stevens (creator of The Outer Limits) and with whom he had a long professional association. Yet, Stevens agreed to loan him for the job, as the pre-production of Incubus went overdue. Justman was eager to accept the job. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp 30-33)

When NBC rejected "The Cage" but allowed Roddenberry to make a second attempt at a pilot, Justman was brought back as both associate producer (replacing Haskin, who often had tense arguments with Roddenberry) and assistant director for "Where No Man Has Gone Before". NBC accepted this pilot and picked up the series, and Justman was brought aboard as an associate producer on the show. Bruce Geller also desperately wanted Justman to work on his series, Mission: Impossible, but Roddenberry had already signed him for Star Trek. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, p 69)

Justman was creator Gene Roddenberry's right-hand man on Star Trek, managing the series in close collaboration with Gene L. Coon and particularly Executive Solow. "If a problem arose that needed a solution, Herb could and would walk into Gene's office, or my office, and find a solution. He protected us, took care of us. He was the strong arm between us and the Desilu staff. I've said this before, but Herb has never heard it: I worked with Gene, but I worked FOR Herb," Justman clarified on a later occasion. [1](X) At first, Justman shared associate producer responsibilities with John D.F. Black, but Black left the series after the first season episode "Miri". While Roddenberry, Black, and D.C. Fontana focused on the scripts, Justman was the producer on the set. He handled much of the hiring and firing of the production staff, as well as various other functions including budget, set dressing, and props.

Justman was Star Trek's co-producer for the first fifteen episodes of its third season, after which he resigned, nearing complete nervous exhaustion and believing the series had declined in production and script quality. In his book, he co-wrote later on his experiences on the Original Series, Justman has cited Roddenberry's defection at the start of the season, as the direct cause for the perceived drop in quality of the season (absolving Roddenberry's successor, the in lore reviled Fred Freiberger and his writing staff, of any blame for this), leading up to him prematurely leaving the series. Additionally, Justman felt the show was receiving poor treatment by NBC, which slashed its budget during the third season. [2] The ever continuous battle for funding took his toll on Justman, "I was tired from three seasons of exhausting work. The thrill was gone.(…)I despaired about the show's loss of quality. (…) My never-ending battle to cut costs without compromising quality had failed. The Star Trek I knew, and was proud to be a part of, was no more. By the midpoint of the production season, I dreaded coming to work every day. It felt like being in prison – and I wanted out. (…) I was just plain burnt out. I needed to leave Star Trek." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 395-398, 407-408)

While Justman was all too often aghast with upper studio management, with the exception of Solow, who he held in high regard, he had nothing but praise for the members of his production team, whose devotion to the show he immensely valued. There were two members however, he frequently singled out for particular praise in his book; his Post-production Supervisor Edward K. Milkis and his Art Director Walter M. Jefferies, key staffers who "saved our bacon" on many an occasion, as Justman had put it.

Besides his producing job, Justman also appeared in three voice-over cameo roles in the series' first season. Twice, as a security guard (in "The Conscience of the King" and "Space Seed") and once as an engineer (in "Mudd's Women"), talking to Kirk through the intercom. [3]

Star Trek: Phase II[]

In 1977, Justman was asked by Roddenberry to help with the production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, or rather its immediate predecessor, Star Trek: Phase II, yet never returned any of Justman's calls when he reported for work. Justman claimed that if he had been there, some of the mistakes in the making of the film could've been avoided. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, p. 432) As it turned out, Roddenberry – who had a well-known character flaw of being absolutely unable to be the bearer of bad news – was actually overruled by the studio, who brought in their own line producer, Robert Goodwin, with the express intent to keep tabs on Roddenberry. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, p. 60)

Return to Star Trek[]

In early October 1986, nearly two decades after leaving the original Star Trek, Justman, together with his Original Series co-workers David Gerrold, Ed Milkis and D.C. Fontana, were brought back by Roddenberry to form the original production nucleus for the pre-production of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 9-11) Justman served as Supervising Producer on The Next Generation for eighteen episodes of its first season. Justman was one of the driving forces in the formation of this series, influencing the creation of the characters and the casting. It was Justman who discovered and pushed for the casting of Patrick Stewart for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Rick Berman recalled, "Roddenberry was very against the idea of a bald British actor playing the next Capt. Kirk, but Bob was very persistent, and Patrick became Capt. Picard." [4] Justman also brought LeVar Burton to the series, having been working together with him on a medical show pilot titled Emergency Room. [5] [6]

As the first season was winding down, however, Justman decided to retire, though that had not been his original intent. For the last eight episodes of the season, he was credited as a Consulting Producer. He left the series after the first season and effectively retired from his nearly forty-year-long career in the entertainment industry. Aside from wanting to enjoy his retirement, Justman's decision to do so was also very much expedited by Roddenberry's uninitiated attorney and business partner Leonard Maizlish, who "destructively" meddled with the creative decision making for the new series. Justman later clarified, "And I stayed [note: after friend Milkis left very early in disgust because of Maizlish] – but only for a while. Even before the first season ended, I told Gene and Paramount that I didn't want my option picked up for a second year. I didn't tell them the real reason: that Leonard Maizlish (who had promised that I would get a "piece" of the show – a piece that somehow never materialized) had gotten to me as well. For the first time in my life, I began to suffer from hypertension. Despite all the hugs and kisses and an offer to bump me up to Executive Producer, I left the show in late April 1988, after completing my work on "The Neutral Zone", the last episode of the new series' first season. I had some good years left and wanted to enjoy them." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 433-434) As it turned out, it was Maizlish who was mainly responsible for the departure at the conclusion of the first season of all the Original Series production staffers, Roddenberry had initially brought in to work in The Next Generation, and none, besides Roddenberry, were left at the start of the second season.

Justman, 2370

The shuttlecraft Justman as seen in "Gambit, Part II"

Despite leaving TNG early, Justman's legacy can be seen later in the series: executive producer Rick Berman named the shuttlecraft Justman in honor of the former producer and director. The Justman was first seen in the sixth season episode "Suspicions" and appeared again in season seven's "Gambit, Part II". Justman visited the set of TNG, when the Original Series bridge was partially reconstructed for the sixth season episode "Relics". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, issue 3/4, p. 27) In 1996, Justman visited the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine sound stages to see the recreated USS Enterprise sets for "Trials and Tribble-ations". (David Gerrold's introduction, [[Trials and Tribble-ations novel ({{{2}}})|Trials and Tribble-ations novel]] novelization)

Also in 1996, Justman and Herbert Solow wrote and published Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, a book which chronicled their work on the original Star Trek series. Justman had already been planning for such a book before he was approached by Solow, "Well, I had started to, with Steve Poe, and we never finished even writing a presentation, because Steve got busy with several other projects when Star Trek: The Next Generation [sic: Justman meant Voyager] started. So I put my research on the back burner. Then, later, Herb came by and said he was writing a book, and I said "What about me?" [7](X) Like Solow, Justman had in their book expressed for the first time a far more critical view on the series' creator, Roddenberry, than was hitherto commonplace, but unlike Solow, Justman was, due to his Star Trek status, shielded from the negative backlash from the more puritanical elements of "Trekdom". Subsequently, Justman also authored a series "From the Wormhole" articles for Star Trek: The Magazine, explaining for its readership some of his reflections on those productions of the Star Trek franchise, he himself had participated in. These articles are of interest, as Justman in them covered subject matters he either had not touched upon in his book, or delved deeper into ones he had mentioned, and as such can be considered addenda to the book. Upon completing the work of putting his recollections on paper, Justman sold off his personal Star Trek possessions in two specialized Profiles in History auctions; the 2001 The Star Trek Auction, the 2002 one that bore his name, The Bob Justman Star Trek Auction, and with the remainder of his Star Trek possessions auctioned off in the 2003 The Ultimate Sci-Fi Auction. More recently, Justman served as a technical consultant for CBS Digital for the "remastering" on the original Star Trek episodes. Shortly before his death, he provided some editorial services to author Marc Cushman for his reference book These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, which Justman had fully endorsed. [8] Concurrently, Justman was interviewed on Star Trek by authors Máire Messenger Davies and Roberta Pearson for their entry in the 2007 reference book NBC: America's Network.

When Star Trek: Voyager started its run, Justman became one of the veteran production staffers who voiced his concern that the 1990s proliferation of Star Trek productions would overextend the appeal of the franchise. "(...)less is more," stated Justman, "I think the show has been flogged unmercifully and its going to rebound. The reaction is essentially going to be a negative reaction. If it is around in another thirty years, I don't think it's going to resemble what it has been in the past." [9](X) Justman lived long enough to find the first part of his fears validated, as events pursuant Star Trek Nemesis and Star Trek: Enterprise proved him largely right, but did not live long enough to see the prophetic second part of his prediction come true – missing the premiere of the re-imagined 2009 alternate universe movie Star Trek by almost exactly a year – seventeen years earlier than even he predicted in 1996, when making the statement.

For all the turmoil, frustration, and stress Justman had endured during the two Star Trek productions, he had relished his time on these as Deep Space Nine Scenic Artist and Video Coordinator Denise Okuda could testify to, when Justman visited the sets, "Bob honored us with a visit to the Deep Space Nine stages, just before the show went on the air. Doug, Mike, and I were proud to show him around the new sets, and he was very complimentary about them. At one point he turned to us and said something like, "You all look pretty tired." We had all been working very long hours (along with the rest of the production crew), so we agreed. Bob smiled at all of us. He looked each of us in the eye and said "Remember these times. In years to come, you'll look back on these as some of the best days of your lives."" Both the Drexler and Okuda families became house guests of the Justman family. [10](X) Doug Drexler in particular was beholden to Justman, as it was he whom Drexler engaged in a correspondence during the pre-production of The Next Generation, which eventually led up to Drexler being hired on the show as soon as the opportunity arose, starting his long official association with the franchise.

Despite all the "disappointments", as Justman had coined them, Gene Roddenberry had inflicted upon him, and despite his criticism he had of him in his book, Justman always remained fond of the man, holding him in warm regard. "It was wonderful working with Gene again, though," stated Justman when The Next Generation went into production, "He was affectionate like he had never been before. Gene was really, really affectionate, almost as if – no, I think it was because he sensed that his end wasn't that far off, and he had a second chance at a relationship with me that never could have happened otherwise, and he wanted to make up for some of the disappointments he had caused me." The sentiment was clearly shared by Roddenberry when he personally handed Justman a US$5,000 bonus early on in the production, stating, "I want you to have it because you deserve it–even more." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 432-433; [11]) Justman's departure after the first season, along with the other Original Series staffers, therefore had a profound effect on Roddenberry, according to Gerrold, "Gene was crying because all of his friends were gone. It was because Maizlish chased them away." [12]

Career outside Star Trek[]

Justman was born and raised in New York City. His father Joseph was a businessman, who also invested in the movie business, being young Justman's first connection to film-making. It was actually father Joe who had founded the television production company Motion Picture Center that was first rented and subsequently bought by the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz couple in 1950 for it to become Desilu Studios. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, p. 4) He enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II. He served two years and was discharged as a Radioman Third Class. He then attended the University of California in Los Angeles before entering a career in film and television production.

Early life and career[]

Early in his career, Justman served as a production assistant on such films as 1951's The Scarf (featuring Celia Lovsky), New Mexico (featuring Jeff Corey and John Hoyt), M (featuring Norman Lloyd and William Schallert), and He Ran All the Way (also with Norman Lloyd), 1952's Japanese War Bride (with George D. Wallace), Red Planet Mars, and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (with Leonard Mudie), and 1953's The Moon Is Blue and The Moonlighter. He then moved on to become a television producer and an assistant director for both film and television projects.

As an assistant director, Justman worked with director Robert Aldrich on several projects. They first worked together on the 1952-53 NBC series The Doctor, after which they collaborated on such films as Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and Attack (1956, featuring William Smithers). Justman's other assistant directorial film projects include the classics The Big Combo (1955, featuring John Hoyt and Whit Bissell), Blood Alley (starring Paul Fix), While the City Sleeps (1956, with Celia Lovsky), Green Mansions (1959, starring Nehemiah Persoff), and 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty (featuring Antoinette Bower, Torin Thatcher and stunts by Paul Baxley).

Justman was also an assistant director on television shows such as I Married Joan, Letter to Loretta, Lassie, The Thin Man, One Step Beyond, and The Outer Limits. He served as a Production Manager on the latter series in 1964 and appeared in the episode "A Feasibility Study" (directed by Byron Haskin, written by Joseph Stefano, and starring David Opatoshu) that same year. In addition, Justman was both an associate producer and assistant director on the classic series The Adventures of Superman. He worked on this series from 1953 through its cancellation in 1958, and was an assistant director on the show during its 1954-55 season.

Later career[]

The two Star Trek pilots were Justman's last projects as an assistant director; he thereafter began to focus on producing. He was briefly an associate producer on Mission: Impossible, which, like Star Trek, was produced by Desilu. From late 1968 to 1970, working under Herbert Solow at MGM, Justman produced the short-lived NBC adventure series Then Came Bronson. Directors on the series included Jud Taylor, Marvin Chomsky, Ralph Senensky, Robert Butler, Lou Antonio, Russ Mayberry, Corey Allen, and Michael O'Herlihy. Writers included Don Ingalls, D.C. Fontana, Rik Vollaerts, Meyer Dolinsky, and Robert Sabaroff. He again worked with Solow on another short-lived NBC series, Man from Atlantis, in 1977. Directors included Marc Daniels and Michael O'Herlihy, while John D.F. Black, Jerry Sohl, Stephen Kandel, Peter Allan Fields, and Shimon Wincelberg were among the writers of the series.

During the 1972-73 TV season, Justman executive produced Assignment: Munich, the pilot for what became the short-lived ABC series Assignment Vienna. Also during this time, Justman returned to work with Leslie Stevens, and produced Stevens' adventure series for NBC, Search, which lasted for one season. Directors of this series included Joseph Pevney, Marc Daniels, Ralph Senensky, and Russ Mayberry.

Justman reunited with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in 1974 to produce the science fiction pilot, Planet Earth. Marc Daniels directed this pilot, which starred such Star Trek alumni as Majel Barrett, Ted Cassidy, Diana Muldaur, and Patricia Smith. However, the pilot was not picked up as a series.

In 1979, Justman was Producer and Executive in Charge of Production on Gideon's Trumpet, a two-hour Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie featuring David Clennon, Jerry Hardin, Richard Lineback, Michael Cavanaugh, J. Patrick McNamara, and Seamon Glass. Justman then produced the NBC drama series McClain's Law and the ABC series MacGruder and Loud. He also produced the 1983 TV movie Emergency Room, which starred a pre-TNG LeVar Burton and a post-TOS Gary Lockwood and featured Warren Munson and John Vargas. Justman's last non-Trek production was the 1986 failed television pilot Dark Mansions, featuring Byron Morrow.

The Next Generation was Justman's final work in the motion picture industry before his retirement.


Justman died at his home in Los Angeles due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 81 years old. He was survived by Jacqueline, his wife of fifty-one years, and their three children: a daughter, Jennifer, and two sons, Jonathan and William. Also surviving Justman were his brother, Anthony; his sisters, Estelle Osborne and Jill Roach; and five grandchildren. [13]

Star Trek credits[]


As Enterprise security guard / engineer (voice only)



Justman was interviewed on his work on Star Trek on the following occasions:

Star Trek DVD and Blu-ray special features:

  • TOS Season 1 DVD-special feature, "Red Shirt Logs – Robert Justman on ""The Cage"", interviewed on 17 January 2004
  • TOS Season 1 DVD-special feature, "Red Shirt Logs – Robert Justman on ""The Corbomite Maneuver"", interviewed on 17 January 2004
  • TOS Season 1 DVD-special feature, "To Boldly Go…Season One", interviewed on 17 January 2004
  • TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier", interviewed on 17 January 2004
  • TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "To Boldly Go…Season Two", interviewed on 9 October 1996
  • TOS Season 3 DVD-special feature, "To Boldly Go…Season Three", interviewed on 17 January 2004
  • TNG Season 1 DVD-special feature, "The Beginning"
  • TNG Season 1 DVD-special feature, "The Making of a Legend"
  • TNG Season 1 Blu-ray-special feature, "Stardate Revisited; The Origin of Star Trek: TNG" (archival footage)

Print publications:

  • "Present at the Creation", Larry Nemecek, Starlog, issue 228, July 1995, pp. 55-60
  • "The Little Program That Could: The Relationship between NBC and Star Trek", Máire Messenger Davies and Roberta Pearson, Chapter 12, NBC: America's Network, August 2007, pp. 209-223

Star Trek documentaries:


External links[]