RIP DC Fontana — Pioneering Female 'Star Trek' Writer Dead At 80

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How Did DC Fontana Die? New Details On The Death Of 'Star Trek' Writer At 80
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Dorothy Catherine Fontana, a writer on the original "Star Trek" series died on Monday, December 2. She was 80 years old.

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Fontana, who was mostly known by her initials “D.C.,” passed away after a brief illness, the American Film Institute announced Tuesday in a press release obtained by People. The official Star Trek website also confirmed the news in a touching article remembering the late writer. "StarTrek.com is deeply saddened to report the passing of Dorothy Catherine “D.C.” Fontana, the legendary writer who brought many of "Star Trek’s" greatest episodes to life."

The site also noted that Fontana "helped blaze a trail for female writers in sci-fi television."  

She is survived by her husband, cinematographer Dennis Skotak. The family requests that donations be made in Fontana’s name to the Humane Society, Best Friends Animal Society or the American Film Institute.

How did DC Fontana die? We get into that and her amazing life and career below. 

1. She masked her gender in her screen credit to avoid discrimination

Because Fontana entered the writing industry in the 1960s, which was a male-dominant field at the time, (one could argue it still is) she was asked to hide her gender by using her initials for her work rather than her name because executives were biased against female writers.

“At the time, I wasn’t especially aware there were so few female writers doing action-adventure scripts. There were plenty doing soaps, comedies, or on variety shows. By choosing to do action-adventure, I was in an elite, very talented and very different group of women writers,” she said in a 2013 interview. 

2. Many people in the 'Star Trek' community have paid tribute to her on Twitter

Many members of the "Star Trek" universe — including writers and actors— paid tribute to Fontana on Twitter

“StarTrek.com  is deeply saddened to report the passing of Dorothy Catherine “D.C.” Fontana, the legendary writer who brought many of Star Trek’s greatest episodes to life.” — @StarTrek

“She was a pioneer. Her work will continue to influence for generations to come.” — @WilliamShatner

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3. She worked as a lecturer at the American Film Institute Conservatory

In recent years, Fontana worked as a lecturer in the Screenwriting Department at the American Film Institute Conservatory. She mentored aspiring screenwriters, producers, and directors. At the end of her writing classes, Fontana would ask a single question which many students cite as having been critical in their development as professional writers. The question was simply: "Why write?" 

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4. She helped develop Spock’s backstory

Fontana is credited with creating the backstory for Spock. She was the one who created Spock’s childhood which was revealed in the Star Trek: The Animated Series. She was also credited with creating a story for Spock’s parents, the Vulcan Sarek and human Amanda in the episode “Journey to Babel.” In a 2013 interview, she called expanding Spock’s character as her greatest contribution to "Star Trek."  “Primarily the development of Spock as a character and Vulcan as a history/background/culture from which he sprang.”

5. She also wrote episodes for other TV shows

Although Fontana’s most notable credit was "Star Trek," she also has a few writing credits in non-Trek episodes. This included "The Waltons," "Bonanza," "Babylon 5,"  "Logan's Run," "The Land of the Lost" and "The Six Million Dollar Man," among others. Fontana was also integral in the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the character of Dr. Picard. 

6. She won awards for her writing

Fontana was nominated for a WGA Award for co-writing an episode of the 1969-70 NBC series "Then Came Bronson." The WGA also honored her as a two-time winner of the Morgan Cox Award in 1997 and 2002. She also earned a Hugo Award nomination for co-writing the "Star Trek" episode “Encounter at Farpoint” with "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry.

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Elizabeth Ward is a writing student finishing her bachelor’s at the University of Louisville. She covers news, entertainment, relationships and everything in between.

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