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Russell "Russ" Bates (6 June 19419 April 2018; age 76) was a writer who co-wrote the Star Trek: The Animated Series second season episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" with David Wise. This episode is responsible for winning the only Emmy Award ever won by either of the two original Star Trek series, the 1974-1975 Daytime Emmy in the area of "Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series." [1] He was a Native American, and came from the Kiowa tribe.

How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

According to The New Voyages 2, Bates first wrote a Star Trek story while he was hospitalized in the US Air Force, in which he served during the 1960s. While he was unsuccessful in selling the story, it got the interest of D.C. Fontana, who helped him into a Writer's Guild program for minorities and asked him to write for the animated series. His first attempt, "The Patient Parasites", was rejected, but appeared in the book The New Voyages 2. He retained a character he had created for that script, the American Indian crew member Walking Bear, when he wrote his second script in collaboration with Wise, "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth".

Bates was befriended by Gene L. Coon, and was his last protegé. Coon recommended Bates to D.C. Fontana as a writer for The Animated Series, when Coon himself declined to. As it turned out, this was an inspired suggestion.

In a short vidcast interview, given for Larry Nemecek's TrekLand blog, Bates related that his Emmy-winning episode had been a subtle homage to his mentor for what Russell believed to be his Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?". Bates was only partially wrong in his beliefs, as that episode, while not conceived by Coon, was heavily revised by him for it to become the episode as ultimately featured. [2]

Star Trek had featured Native Americans in TOS previously, but Bates' episode was unusual in that it was written by an actual Native American, and also showed one as a key part of the Enterprise's crew. As such, it paved the way for the much more prominent and central character of Chakotay as first officer on USS Voyager.

Later work

Bates only sporadically worked for the motion picture industry, having penned a 1974 episode for the television series Isis, and having acted in two movies, Gorilas a todo ritmo (1981) and Porky's II: The Next Day (1983). Nevertheless he was shortly reacquainted with the franchise when he showed up as an extra in the Star Trek special, The Star Trek Logs: An MTV Big Picture Special Edition (1991) playing a warp drive consultant.

Star Trek interviews

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