Farewell, Harold Livingston
In the same year Star Trek: The Motion Picture experiences a spectacular rerelease in movie theaters and is receiving more positive fan attention and evaluation than ever before, we are called to bid farewell to its credited screenwriter, Harold Livingston, who passed away on April 28th, at the age of ninety-seven.
Many fans know of the struggle Livingston faced when trying to shape up Alan Dean Foster’s story – originally written as a television pilot for a second Star Trek series, which was never made – into shape for the big screen as Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But what many fans may not know is how much more there was to this man.
Livingston was born on September 4th, 1924. He began his career not as a writer, but as a radio operator for aircraft navigation, and eventually became an instrumental figure in forming the Israeli Air Force, just before the Arab-Israeli War in 1948. It was his adventures in aviation that led to him writing a book titled No Trophy, No Sword, which recounted the ragtag team of mostly Jewish American volunteers who had formed the service. The book was eventually published in 1994.
Prior to this publication, however, Livingston’s career as a novelist took off in the mid-1950s with his first book, The Coasts of the Earth. And his career as a screenwriter began with a 1966 episode of The Friendly Family, titled “Blue Light”, a dangerous tale of a double agent behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany during World War II.
By the time he was tapped to write the screenplay for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Livingston had over thirty writing credits to his name. The first Star Trek feature film turned out to be an interesting challenge, however, as Livingston was getting constant input and notes from producer Gene Roddenberry as well as members of the cast, sometimes forcing him to rewrite scenes as they were being filmed.
As a man who lived an adventurous life that truly made a difference in the world and then found his inner muse to translate those experiences into dramatic entertainment for novels, television and films, Mr. Livingston did indeed live long and prosper. Now, he rests… to be remembered fondly, both in his community and by fans of his work.
A freelance writer, Douglas has several years experience writing newsletters, sales copy and movie reviews. He is also the author of the screenplays Supralight and Bloodstone: The Sorceress and the Warrior. His reviews of Star Trek films (as well as a DS9 retrospective) have been published on the TrekSphere website.