Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Back in the day when I was a kid growing up on Star Trek TOS reruns, the art of film-making was, of course, alien to me. The fact that everything I saw each week had to actually be created by someone never crossed my mind. But when I became a collector of screen-used Trek stuff, I came to understand some of the more basic tenants that ruled the production of original Star Trek episodes. And perhaps the most fundamental rule was "waste not, want not".

The production budgets on TOS, though among the highest of the day, were notoriously tight when it came to producing an expensive show like Star Trek. So whenever something could be reused – costumes, for instance – they didn't hesitate to do so. But as I was recently reviewing a number of episodes for some research I was doing, I found a whole new definition of "frugality".

One of the cornerstones of Star Trek costuming was the jumpsuit. Costumer William Ware Theiss used them significantly throughout the run of the show. They were utilitarian, nondescript, and easy to make and modify as needed. So it came as no surprise to me as I watched some scenes from Season 1's "Devil in the Dark" that I saw a lot of jumpsuits. And I mean a LOT of jumpsuits. The miners on Janus VI used jumpsuits as their basic work clothes, with most wearing orange while the managers wore differentiating colors. I had seen the episode dozens of times over the years making them so familiar that they barely registered with me.  I moved on with my research.

"Devil in the Dark"'s Jumpsuit Party
Then, just a couple of episodes later, I suddenly recognized some of those same jumpsuits from "Devil" with different belts, this time in "Operation: Annihilate!" (truly one of the worst titles in all of Star Trek). Again, I was not surprised, but it had never really registered with me before. But then I started catching on.

By the time I got to Season 2's "Metamorphosis", I instantly recognized Zefram Cochrane's clothing – a modified version of the orange jumpsuits from "Devil in the Dark". Oh, it had a different collar cut and added details, but the stitching of the torso was a perfect match as was the fabric itself – it was another reuse. A couple of episodes later, I hit "The Deadly Years" where the aging leader of the colony was dressed in a now-familiar way.

Same color, same cut, same everything. They were definitely getting their money's worth! Soon after came the famous "Trouble With Tribbles" where the station commander, played by character actor Whit Bissell (what a name!), is decked out in orange. You can actually still see where the collar communicator had been attached in "Devil in the Dark".

Next up came "Journey To Babel" where I thought I spied a version of the yellow jumpsuit, though the actor is always in the background so it's hard to tell for sure. But it's certainly the right color.

The next sighting was a certainty, though. "By Any Other Name" featured two aliens wearing the now-familiar orange and the vivid purple, again both first seen in "Devil".

Along came Season 3 with "And The Children Shall Lead", where the dead colonists are sporting the various colors and the one surviving adult is once again in the purple.

How fitting, then, that when I got the last episode ever filmed, "Turnabout Intruder", I found one last usage.

The orange versions became the most widely seen which makes sense since "Devil In The Dark" shows more of them than anything else. And it's worth noting that there were other reused jumpsuits – most notably the olive green versions first seen in "This Side of Paradise". Seeing how well made these are, combined with the number of pieces leads me to wonder if these weren't bought off the shelf and modified as needed for production. They might have been available through some type of working man's clothing supplier, though it's worth noting that most working guys in the mid 60's would not have been caught dead in a purple jumpsuit! So maybe Theiss made them. Or maybe the orange were bought and others made to match. We'll never know, unfortunately.

By the way, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were uses that I missed – these are simply the ones that stood out to me. There might be even more! Reuse like this is a common thing in TV and film. But since most productions use everyday, off-the-shelf clothing for wardrobe, it seldom sticks out. But reuse would be a theme with all Star trek productions, and not just with costumes but props, models – even film in some cases! All were reused as the needs demanded in order to keep costs down.

So let this be a lesson to you. In the twenty-third century, all the best-dressed scientists will be wearing brightly colored, one-piece gabardine jumpsuits! Oo-la-la!



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