(written from a Production point of view)
Stephen "Steve" Edward Poe (18 March 1936 – 6 January 2000; age 63) was a successful author who wrote the very first specialized reference book on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a Star Trek production, The Making of Star Trek.
In 1966 Poe, employed at a Phoenix, Arizona-based advertising agency, was an account manager for model kit company Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT), serving as a consultant for marketing and communications purposes. In that capacity he was instrumental in brokering a deal between Desilu and AMT for the latter to acquire the rights to produce model kits based on the new Star Trek show, starting a decades long association between that company and the franchise. In return AMT was to help out the studio with the construction of set pieces when required. Also, Poe was given free access to the studio which in 1968 resulted in the publication of The Making of Star Trek, a book he wrote under the name Stephen E. Whitfield, his stepfather's surname. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is credited as co-author for the book, although his contributions were minimal. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 402) For many years, this was the only book on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the production of Star Trek. Aside from writing the book, Poe has remained the primary liaison between the studio and AMT for the entire production run of the Original Series. Roddenberry has always been appreciative of Poe's contribution and has expressed this when he presented the second tooling master model of the D7-class studio model to Poe after the series wrapped, which he was forced to offer up for auction in 1998, in order to cover medical expenses.
In this period Poe was also involved in an incident with Montgomery Scott actor James Doohan, which had comic overtures. Doohan took a shining to Poe's car, a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham, and vigorously tried to acquire it from Poe. Poe, claiming the car was "cursed" initially refused to sell it to Doohan, but ultimately relented. Within a year the car was involved in two costly (material) accidents and Doohan, now convinced that the car was indeed haunted, subsequently re-sold it. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 337)
Because of the immense success of his The Making of Star Trek, Poe was again pegged by the studio in 1978 to write up the follow-up The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but he was unavailable at the time. Instead, Roddenberry managed to convince the studio to appoint his personal assistant Susan Sackett for the chore. (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 417)
Twenty years later though, in 1998, he did publish his second Star Trek book after all, A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, this time under his own name. While writing the book, Poe was already battling cancer, to which he would succumb two years later. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 84) Actually, a follow-up to his Making of book had been considered sometime earlier, as was confirmed by would-be collaborator and former Original Series producer, Robert Justman, "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 [Solow] came by and said he was writing a book, and I said "What about me?"
Career outside Star Trek
Though he had to share credit and royalties with him, Stephen Poe got along well with Gene Roddenberry (becoming a frequent house guest of the Roddenberry/Barret couple, taking several boat trips with them, as related in the foreword of Vision of the Future), not in the least due to the fact that both men shared a common background as pilot. Roddenberry famously had a soft-spot for people who, like him, had a history as pilot. Poe had a background as a Marine Corps pilot and Intelligence Officer and held a commercial pilot's license in both fix-wing aircraft and helicopters. While Roddenberry had a reputation of cajoling other people, such as Composer Alexander Courage, out of their royalty shares in a similar way, causing each of them to become livid with him, Whitfield was the notable exception. Not minding surrendering half the book royalties and grateful for the chance to start his writing career as a book author, the fact that he had written the very first Star Trek reference book (and a very successful one at that) had been a source of immense pride for him for the remainder of his life. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 401-402)
Poe had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed traveling, hunting, fishing, sailing, as well as music and writing, the latter he did abundantly in the form of articles for magazines, newspapers and technical, trade and historical journals. The experience thus gained, served him well for his very first book, which happened to be The Making of Star Trek. In 1959 he started to work in the field of advertising and public relations and by the time his book was published he had switched over from the Phoenix firm to AMT as Director of National Advertising and Promotion. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 403)
During his stay at Desilu/Paramount Television, he met and interviewed the show's Art Director, Matt Jefferies (who also held a commercial pilot's license), eventually befriending him. Together with Jefferies, aside from conceptualizing the Star Trek model kits, Poe developed in 1968 the Strategic Space Command concept for Poe's employer AMT, being a themed science fiction model kit line AMT wanted to introduce in order to capitalize on the huge success of their first two Star Trek model kits, the USS Enterprise (No. S921) and the Klingon Battle cruiser (No. S952). The first model kit of the line, the Leif Ericson (No. S954), designed by Jefferies, was a commercial failure, and the project was dropped by AMT.
Poe also worked with Alcoholics Anonymous, compiling A Concordance to Alcoholics Anonymous (published in 1990) with his wife Francis.
- "Stephen Poe's Books", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, May 2000, pp. 82-84