Senensky: Star Trek Suits Cause Woe

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After directing six original series episodes, Director Ralph Senensky lost his job after the seventh due to something beyond his control.

The trouble for Senensky came in the third season of Star Trek, while working on the Third Season’s The Tholian Web.

“Monday morning I arrive at the studio to do the sequence with the four men – Kirk, Spock, Doc and Chekov,” said Senensky. “They’re in silver lamé spacesuits, going over to another spaceship, which was going to be the Enterprise doubling, where they discover that the whole crew is dead. They go through the ship section by section and they just find dead bodies and dead bodies in very strange, violent positions.

“We got to the studio and the problem was that the camera crew was there at 8 o’clock, and we were ready to shoot, but there was nothing to shoot because there were no spacesuits. I discovered that the four guys had been called to the studio on Sunday for the first fitting of the suits. As of Monday morning, they were still putting them together.”

That was the first delay, but more unavoidable delays were to slow shooting down. “…we had another problem, from 1 o’clock until the end of the day,” said Senensky. “The guys had to go to the restroom. When they went to the restroom that meant they had to be un-sewn from their spacesuits, go do their business, come back, be re-sewn into the spacesuits. That’s the way we muddled through the day and, at the end of the day, I was a half a day behind.”

But that half-day delay ended up being a real problem. Later in the week, Senensky was called into Fred Freiberger‘s office. “[I] was told that I was being replaced because I’d not caught up my half day,” said Senensky. “The following day, The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety had news articles telling about my being fired. It was issued by Doug Cramer‘s office. He was saying that these schedules had to be met and he was making a point that he was going to see that they were met, and I was the point.”

Gene Roddenberry had not been part of that decision to let go Senensky, and he called Senensky to apologize. “I was aware that Gene was not involved in the decision,” said Senensky. “I also knew that Gene, by this point, was not that thrilled with the way things were running. And I think before the end of the year, he too sort of abdicated.”

Senensky did not work again for months due to those two articles, but eventually was hired for The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Other shows on which he eventually worked included: The Bill Cosby Show, The Partridge Family, The F.B.I., The Waltons, Hart to Hart and The Paper Chase.

Now eighty-nine, Senensky is “living a wonderful retired life” in Carmel-by-the Sea, California. His official website can be found here.


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