Original 'Enterprise' Designer Matt Jefferies DiesBy Christian
July 21, 2003 - 11:08 PM
Walter 'Matt' Jefferies, the man who dreamed up the unique look of Kirk's Enterprise and all Star Trek ships that followed it, passed away this morning at the age of 82.
According to a report on the official Star Trek site, no official cause of death has been given, but Jefferies had known to have been battling with cancer. Jefferies had recently been told by doctors he was winning the fight, and only last month appeared to be full of energy during a special tribute at the Paramount lot (story).
As a former pilot, Jefferies got along well with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and received from him the assignment to develop a vessel that would be nothing like the rocket ships from the 1960s or the standard spaceships that appeared on the covers of pulp sci-fi magazines. The result was the unique look of the Enterprise featuring a saucer-shaped primary hull and two warp nacelles, a design that has been used on all Trek incarnations since then.
Less high-profile but equally revolutionary was Jefferies' design of the Enterprise bridge. By placing the ship's bridge crew in a circle around the captain's chair this allowed Kirk easy access to all departments, as well as giving the film crew the ability for many unique dramatic shots. The design was thought out so well that many defense and aerospace organisations studied the design as a model for an efficient future control room, according to the Star Trek Encyclopedia.
One of the writers of the Encyclopedia, Michael Okuda, spoke to the official site about Jefferies' passing. "Matt Jefferies' quiet modesty belied the genius of his work, which set the path for all of us who are lucky enough to follow in his very large footsteps," said Okuda, who currently serves on Enterprise as technical consultant and scenic art supervisor. "Today, nearly four decades later, Matt's original Enterprise still stands as a design classic. We will miss him greatly."
Jefferies' name will live on forever in the Trek universe in the form of the Jefferies tubes, the the engineering maintenance conduits giving full access to every location on a starship. The second-season Enterprise episode "First Flight" also contained a reference to a character named Captain Jefferies, the head of an engineering team.
Besides Star Trek, Jefferies worked on shows such as Mission: Impossible, Little House on the Prairie and Dallas. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann. More quotes from Jefferies can be found in this article on the official site.