(written from a Production point of view)
Samuel "Sam" Anthony Peeples (22 September 1917 – 26 August 1997; age 79), usually credited as "Samuel A. Peeples", was a writer who has worked on Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Peeples had already made a noticeable contribution to Star Trek, before the Original Series was even sold, as fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek-lore, "[Gene Roddenberry] got "Wagon Train to the stars" from Sam Peeples. That's what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, "Yeah? Why don't you do Wagon Train to the stars?" And when Gene started shopping it around, that's how he presented it." When Roddenberry started to make his Star Trek is...pitch rounds to the production studios in the spring of 1964, he had by that time appropriated the phrase as his own, and has until his dying day propagated it as such in public. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, p. 23)
An avid fan of science fiction, Peeples served as a consultant to Gene Roddenberry during the writing of the first 1964 Star Trek pilot, "The Cage". He introduced Roddenberry to the works of many known science fiction authors, such as Robert Heinlein and Olaf Stapledon. Peeples also made a list for Roddenberry about the science fiction writers he should contact and ask for contribution to the series. The list included Harlan Ellison. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 84). One year later however, Roddenberry, grateful for the services Peeples had provided for the first pilot, assigned Peeples to write the script for what was to become the second Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Originally a Western writer by profession, Peeples turned in his first professional science fiction story outline, then still tentatively called Esper, in the first week of April 1965. Peeples himself revised his original title into the ultimate one – becoming the closing remark of the famed intro narrative – on his first script draft of late April 1965. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, pp. 69, 80-81, 263)
In August 1966, Roddenberry offered Peeples the job of line producer on Star Trek, however he declined, wanting to concentrate on the development of his own two Western series, Custer and Lancer. Nevertheless, Peeples' refusal made way for the gifted Gene L. Coon, which turned out to be a stroke of luck for the series. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, p. 245)
Despite his reluctance to be a regular writer on the Original Series, Peeples did agree to write the pilot episode for the 1973 Animated Series, "Beyond the Farthest Star". He recalled, "[Dorothy Fontana] called and said, 'Gene suggested that since you had done the pilot for the original Star Trek, maybe you'd like to do the pilot for the animated Star Trek.' And that's what I did [....] As far as the inspiration for the story, I don't have the vaguest idea. It seems to me that I was trying to say that it would be interesting if there was a space ship which was actually a living creature. It's alive, but it is used to going from one planet to another." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 98-99) Peeples turned in the first draft of this episode's script on 10 May 1973. A revised draft of the script was submitted on 17 April 1973, though certain pages were revised on 10 May 1973.
In the summer of 1981, Peeples was reacquainted with Star Trek when he wrote a story outline, Worlds That Never Were, for what was later to become Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. By 24 August he had translated his story outline into a first script draft, now entitled The New Star Trek, which was ultimately passed over for a final variant version by Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer. He wrote some additional material (including his original Doctor Savik character becoming Lieutenant Saavik) into the screenplay of the movie, but went uncredited for his contributions. (The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, pp. 47-51; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 5, pp. 84-85) Nevertheless, it has earned Peeples a co-nomination for a Hugo award in the category Best Dramatic Presentation, his only motion picture industry award nomination, and in the process becoming one of the very few production staffers who received an award nomination for a Star Trek production for which the person in question had not officially been credited for in any capacity.
Career outside Star Trek
Sam Peeples started out his career as a novelist, writing novels predominantly in the Western genre under his pseudonym Brad Ward. Even though Peeples was a science fiction fan, the Western remained the genre of choice for him to work in when he moved over in the late 1950s to work as a writer for television as was evidenced by his body of work. He has worked on a slew of television series from the 1950s onward, predominantly westerns, such as The Rifleman, The Tall Man, Frontier Circus, Have Gun – Will Travel (were he met Gene Roddenberry) and The Legend of Jesse James, but, ironically, not on Wagon Train.
After his contribution to The Animated Series, he branched out further into science fiction by becoming the story editor on Jason of Star Command, a live-action spin-off of Space Academy (1977), for which he had also written. James Doohan was a regular in Jason of Star Command, playing Commander Canarvin. The series also co-starred Sid Haig. In 1977, Peeples also co-wrote the failed pilot Spectre with Roddenberry, followed by a stint as writer for the 1979 television series Flash Gordon.
In the late 1970s, Peeples returned to novel writing, publishing two novels in 1976 and 1978 respectively, but his last recorded credit has been the 1982 television movie Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All, he worked on after Wrath of Khan.
Peeples succumbed to the effects of cancer on 22 September 1997 at age 79.
Star Trek credits
- TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
- TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star"
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – additional writing material (uncredited)
Star Trek award
Peeples has earned the following award nomination for his work in Star Trek,
- 1983 Hugo Award nomination in the category Best Dramatic Presentation for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, shared with Jack B. Sowards, Harve Bennett, and Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek interviews
- "Charting "Where No Man Has Gone Before"", Edward Gross, Starlog, issue 124, November 1987, pp. 36-37
- The Star Trek Interview Book, Allan Asherman, 1988