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Richard C. Datin, Jr.

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Richard "Dick" C. Datin, Jr. (10 October 192924 January 2011; age 81) was the model maker who was called in by the Howard Anderson Company to construct the three-foot Enterprise model, designed by Matt Jefferies in 1964, and thereby becoming the very first studio model maker for the Star Trek franchise, though he, as sub-contractor, has never received official credit as such.

Pursuant the three-foot Enterprise studio model, other contributions Datin was called upon to make for the Star Trek: The Original Series were the:

  • Eleven-foot model of the Enterprise , subcontracted to Production Models Shop owned by Volmer Jensen due to space and time restraints in 1964/1965, supervision and detail construction
  • Subsequent modifications on both models and decal sheets for both, including extra sheets as spares, in 1965 and 1966
  • Enterprise shuttlebay maquette and foreshortened duplicate in 1966
  • Class F shuttlecraft model decals, additional detailing and repairs in 1966
  • Deep Space Station K-7 model in 1967, also serving as model operator at Anderson's.

The Space Station K-7 was Datin's last contribution to the Star Trek franchise, but his signature contributions went unacknowledged for the next few decades, due to the fact that he was not officially credited.

Therefore almost forgotten as being the first model maker for Star Trek, Datin had an uphill struggle to regain recognition as such, the Smithsonian Institution for example, flat-out refusing to believe his claim on the occasion of their 1992-1994 Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit. To add insult to injury, for nearly two decades it was Don Loos who, not by his own doing, was credited for the build of the eleven-foot model, due to a misinterpretation of a remark Jim Dow had made in a 1979 interview, perpetuated by authors of several reference works ever since for the subsequent two decades, with the build of the three-foot model attributed to Matt Jefferies, this due to a remark former Original Series Art Director Rolland M. Brooks made in a 1987 interview for Cinefantastique magazine.

Yet, a 1996 article by Dan Fiebiger for an Original Series-themed issue of the same Cinefantastique magazine, began to change this state of affairs. Still, how unknown, even to former contemporary production staffers, his contributions were at the time of the publication of the Cinefantastique issue, was exemplified by a rather acid letter, an exasperated Datin sent in as response to another article in the same issue, "In my opinion you owe the readers of your magazine a sincere apology for including the highly fictionalized account of Roland Brook's [sic., and who was still maintaining his misconception] portrait how Matt Jefferies "spent more than four months building the model ship..." for STAR TREK [27:11/12:104]. His recollections of the miniatures, as transcribed by author Sue Uram, are so far from the truth it is utterly pathetic. I pray that your learned readers will be able to distinguish fact from fiction upon reading Mr. Brook's version and Dan Fiebinger's abridged but detailed account, despite the unutilized last minute corrections, regarding the U.S.S. Enterprise in the same issue." (Cinefantastique, Vol.28, #4/5, p.126)

It was however, specifically the assistance of Star Trek studio model aficionado William S. McCullars in particular, that has brought his work fully into the limelight. The highly detailed in-depth interviews McCullars did with Datin, published as a two-part article in Star Trek: Communicator (2001), has provided insightful information into the art of model-making of the 1960s, due to Datin's meticulous record-keeping. McCullars recalled in 2011,

"I managed to track Richard down during the late '90s to discuss his Star Trek modelmaking. I have a lifelong interest in the studio spaceship models used in Star Trek. Richard agreed to interviews, which went on for about two years off and on. He was incredibly patient with me and kept such good records of his work, as well as having a good memory. I finally completed the article around late 2000 or early 2001, and it was published in Star Trek: Communicator magazine in a two-part article. (There is actually a third part to the article, which the Communicator asked me to write for their planned website that never materialized!) After that, the Smithsonian contacted me and asked for my help. I wrote the dedication plaque text and supplied the photo of Richard and the other Enterprise modelmakers for the eleven-foot Enterprise studio model display at the NASM. Richard visited the NASM five or six years ago and had great pride in the dedication plaque." [1]
He had already been acknowledged previously by his former boss, Howard A. Anderson, Jr., in a 1994 episode of the television documentary series Movie Magic, of which Datin was exceedingly proud, and in which he himself made a brief appearance.

McCullars' act of sending the photograph of Datin taking delivery of the 11-foot model with accompanying text to the National Air and Space Museum, thereby reversing their 1992 position by adding it as a plaque to the permanent display of the original studio model, finally gave Datin and the other builders of the model, the acknowledgment for their contributions, Datin himself had vainly tried to get for years.

Career outside Star TrekEdit

Richard Datin was a 1950 Architectural and Structural Technology graduate of New York Institute of Applied Arts & Sciences of Brooklyn NY, and, becoming a professional model maker, has built scale models for various Hollywood studios and TV commercials beginning in 1955.

In 1979, Datin changed careers and became the founding curator of the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. During this time and after his retirement in 1989 he has also written several history books about his hometown of Reno, Nevada.

Richard Datin passed away on 24 January 2011 in Reno, Nevada, his hometown for decades, but was, upon his own request, interred in the family plot in Nauvoo, Illinois. [2]

His daughter N. Datin McDonald published the below mentioned biography on her father in 2015, in which his work, including that for Star Trek, was dealt with in detail. For the work she built upon the writings and notes her father had left, and as such, the book is in part a posthumous autobiography as well.

Star Trek interviews Edit

  • Movie Magic, Season 1, Episode 11: "Models and Miniatures – A Model of Perfection", 1994
  • "Special Visual Effects", Dan Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, 1996, pp. 64-75
  • "Enterprise '64, The real Builders of the Storied Starship", William S. McCullars, Star Trek: Communicator issue 132, 2001, pp. 48-55
  • "Enterprise '64, Part 2, Building a better Starship", William S. McCullars, Star Trek: Communicator issue 133, 2001, pp. 44-51

Further reading Edit

External links Edit

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