Born John Donald Francis Black, December 30, 1932, “John D.F.,” as his friends and colleagues called him, began his screenwriting career with the 1957 science fiction film, The Unearthly, and later wrote numerous other feature films and TV Movies, including co-writing the screenplay for 1972’s Shaft. In television, where he worked most frequently, Mr. Black had multiple script writing assignments on popular television series of the day such as Lawman, The Untouchables, Mr. Novak, Laredo, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible, Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, Charlie’s Angels, and others. He won a Writers Guild award in 1966 for his script, “With a Hammer in His Hand, Lord! Lord!” for Mr. Novak, and was the recipient of a 1972 Edgar Allen Poe Award for writing the TV Movie, Thief, which also brought him an Emmy nomination.
In addition, Mr. Black was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1967 for writing “The Naked Time,” a formative episode of the original Star Trek. Mr. Black also served Star Trek as Associate Producer and as the series’ first story editor, sharing chores with creator Gene Roddenberry in rewriting many of the scripts which launched the adventures of the starship Enterprise, thereby defining the characters and setting the tone for what would follow in TV’s most successful franchise. It was, in fact, Mr. Black who wrote the iconic line which began the series’ opening narration, “Space … the final frontier.”
Mr. Black returned to Star Trek two decades later to write “Justice,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, under the pseudonym of Ralph Wills. He was also credited with the story for that series’ 1986 episode, “The Naked Now,” a sequel to the earlier “The Naked Time.” After more than two decades of retirement, Mr. Black again returned to the universe of Star Trek, as story consultant on the web series Star Trek Continues. Along with wife Mary Black, who had worked as his executive secretary on the original series in 1966, Black co-wrote the foreword and gave an in-depth interview for the 2013 nonfiction book, These Are the Voyages – Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One.
After the publication of These Are the Voyages, Mr. Black joined the book’s author, Marc Cushman, for numerous promotional appearances, including several segments of Access Hollywood in 2014. Most recently, Black appeared in a pair of special feature commentaries, “50 Years of Star Trek” and “Star Trek: Inside the Roddenberry Vault,” issued by CBS Studios in 2016 as bonus features on a pair of Star Trek DVD box sets.
According to Mary Black, as told to Sondra Burrows of Jacobs/Brown Media Group, Mr. Black passed away peacefully of natural causes last Thursday, November 29, at his home in Winnetka, California. He is survived by his wife, Mary Stilwell Black, and three sons: Shaun, Geoffrey and Christopher. Memorial services are pending.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his wife with final funeral expenses. All proceeds of the account will be given to Mary Black. Please click on the button below to donate to GoFundMe