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Robert Justman

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Robert "Bob" Harris Justman (13 July 192628 May 2008; age 81) was one of the pioneers behind the Star Trek phenomenon as a producer and, initially, an assistant director on Star Trek: The Original Series. He later had a hand in creating Star Trek: The Next Generation as that show's Supervising Producer.

Early life and career

Justman was born and raised in New York City. His father was a businessman, who also invested in the movie business, being young Justman's first connection to filmmaking. He enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II. He served two years and was discharged as a Radioman Third Class. He then attended the University of California in Los Angeles before entering a career in film and television production.

Early in his career, Justman served as a production assistant on such films as 1951's The Scarf (featuring Celia Lovsky), New Mexico (featuring Jeff Corey and John Hoyt), M (featuring Norman Lloyd and William Schallert), and He Ran All the Way (also with Norman Lloyd), 1952's Japanese War Bride (with George D. Wallace), Red Planet Mars, and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (with Leonard Mudie), and 1953's The Moon Is Blue and The Moonlighter. He then moved on to become a television producer and an assistant director for both film and television projects.

As an assistant director, Justman worked with director Robert Aldrich on several projects. They first worked together on the 1952-53 NBC series The Doctor, after which they collaborated on such films as Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and Attack (1956, featuring William Smithers). Justman's other assistant directorial film projects include the classics The Big Combo (1955, featuring John Hoyt and Whit Bissell), Blood Alley (starring Paul Fix), While the City Sleeps (1956, with Celia Lovsky), Green Mansions (1959, starring Nehemiah Persoff), and 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty (featuring Antoinette Bower, Torin Thatcher and stunts by Paul Baxley).

Justman was also an assistant director on television shows such as I Married Joan, Letter to Loretta, Lassie, The Thin Man, One Step Beyond, and The Outer Limits. He served as a Production Manager on the latter series in 1964 and appeared in the episode "A Feasibility Study" (directed by Byron Haskin, written by Joseph Stefano, and starring David Opatoshu) that same year. In addition, Justman was both an associate producer and assistant director on the classic series The Adventures of Superman. He worked on this series from 1953 through its cancellation in 1958, and was an assistant director on the show during its 1954-55 season.

Justman had a long professional association with writer/director/producer Leslie Stevens (the creator of The Outer Limits). He nearly worked as assistant director on Stevens' esperanto language horror movie, Incubus, which starred William Shatner. However, Justman's commitment to "The Cage" made this assignment impossible. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 30-31)

Later career

Star Trek

In 1964, Justman was hired by Gene Roddenberry as associate producer on "The Cage", the first pilot episode of Roddenberry's Star Trek. However, Justman rejected the offer, fearing he doesn't have enough post-production knowledge which such a show might demand. He recommended Byron Haskin for the job, which he eventually got. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 29-31)

However, a few weeks later, Herb Solow (not knowing about Roddenberry's previous offer) contacted Justman to hire him as the assistant director for the same project (after he was recommended by various director friends of Solow, including James Goldstone). Leslie Stevens agreed to loan him for the job, as the pre-production of Incubus went overdue. Justman was eager to accept the job. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 31-33)

When NBC rejected "The Cage" but allowed Roddenberry to make a second attempt at a pilot, Justman was brought back as both associate producer (replacing Haskin, who often had tense arguments with Roddenberry) and assistant director for "Where No Man Has Gone Before". NBC accepted this pilot and picked up the series, and Justman was brought aboard as an associate producer on the show. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 69)

Justman was creator Gene Roddenberry's right-hand man on Star Trek, managing the series along with Gene L. Coon and Herbert F. Solow. At first, Justman shared associate producer responsibilities with John D.F. Black, but Black left the series after the first season episode "Miri". While Roddenberry, Black, and D.C. Fontana focused on the scripts, Justman was the producer on the set. He handled much of the hiring and firing of the production staff, as well as various other functions including budget, set dressing, and props.

Justman was Star Trek's co-producer for the first fifteen episodes of its third season, after which he resigned, believing the series had declined in production and script quality. He also felt the show was receiving poor treatment by NBC, which slashed its budget during the third season. [1]

"I was tired from three seasons of exhausting work. The thrill was gone. (...) I despaired about the show's loss of quality. (...) My never-ending battle to cut costs without compromising quality had failed. The Star Trek I knew, and was proud to be a part of, was no more. By the midpoint of the production season, I dreaded coming to work every day. It felt like being in prison - and I wanted out. (...) I was just plain burnt out. I needed to leave Star Trek." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 407-408)

Besides his producing job, Justman also appeared in three voice-over cameo roles in the series' first season. Twice, as a security guard (in "The Conscience of the King" and "Space Seed") and once as an engineer (in "Mudd's Women"), talking to Kirk through the intercom. [2]

Other projects

The two Star Trek pilots were Justman's last projects as an assistant director; he thereafter began to focus on producing. He was briefly an associate producer on Mission: Impossible, which, like Star Trek, was produced by Desilu. From late 1968 to 1970, working under Herbert Solow at MGM, Justman produced the short-lived NBC adventure series Then Came Bronson. Directors on the series included Jud Taylor, Marvin Chomsky, Ralph Senensky, Robert Butler, Lou Antonio, Russ Mayberry, Corey Allen, and Michael O'Herlihy. Writers included Don Ingalls, D.C. Fontana, Rik Vollaerts, Meyer Dolinsky, and Robert Sabaroff. He again worked with Solow on another short-lived NBC series, Man from Atlantis, in 1977. Directors included Marc Daniels and Michael O'Herlihy, while John D.F. Black, Jerry Sohl, Stephen Kandel, Peter Allan Fields, and Shimon Wincelberg were among the writers of the series.

During the 1972-73 TV season, Justman executive produced Assignment: Munich, the pilot for what became the short-lived ABC series Assignment Vienna. Also during this time, Justman returned to work with Leslie Stevens, and produced Stevens' adventure series for NBC, Search, which lasted for one season. Directors of this series included Joseph Pevney, Marc Daniels, Ralph Senensky, and Russ Mayberry.

Justman reunited with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in 1974 to produce the science fiction pilot, Planet Earth. Marc Daniels directed this pilot, which starred such Star Trek alumni as Majel Barrett, Ted Cassidy, Diana Muldaur, and Patricia Smith. However, the pilot was not picked up as a series.

In 1977, Justman was asked by Roddenberry to help with the production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. However, Roddenberry soon changed his mind and never returned any of Justman's calls when he reported for work. Justman claimed that if he had been there, some of the mistakes in the making of the film could've been avoided. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 432)

In 1979, Justman was Producer and Executive in Charge of Production on Gideon's Trumpet, a two-hour Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie featuring David Clennon, Jerry Hardin, Richard Lineback, Michael Cavanaugh, and Seamon Glass. Justman then produced the NBC drama series McClain's Law and the ABC series MacGruder and Loud. He also produced the 1983 TV movie Emergency Room, which starred a pre-TNG LeVar Burton and a post-TOS Gary Lockwood. Justman's last non-Trek production was the 1986 TV movie Dark Mansions, featuring Byron Morrow.

Return to Trek

Justman, 2370

The shuttlecraft Justman as seen in TNG: "Gambit, Part II"

Nearly two decades after leaving the original Star Trek, Justman returned to the franchise as Supervising Producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation for eighteen episodes of its first season. Justman was one of the driving forces in the formation of this series, influencing the creation of the characters and the casting.

It was Justman who discovered and pushed for the casting of Patrick Stewart for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Rick Berman recalled, "Roddenberry was very against the idea of a bald British actor playing the next Capt. Kirk, but Bob was very persistent, and Patrick became Capt. Picard." [3] Justman also brought LeVar Burton to the series, having been working together with him on a medical show pilot titled Emergency Room. [4] [5]

As the first season was winding down, however, Justman decided to retire. For the last eight episodes of the season, he was credited as a Consulting Producer. He left the series after the first season and effectively retired from his nearly forty-year-long career in the entertainment industry.

Despite leaving TNG early, Justman's legacy can be seen later in the series: executive producer Rick Berman named the shuttlecraft Justman in honor of the former producer and director. The Justman was first seen in the sixth season episode "Suspicions" and appeared again in season seven's "Gambit, Part II".

In 1996, Justman and Herbert Solow wrote and published Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, a book which chronicles their work on the original Star Trek series. Most recently, Justman was a technical consultant for CBS Digital for the "remastering" on the original Star Trek episodes.

In those years, Justman authored a short series of articles for the Star Trek: The Magazine, explaining for its readership some of his reflections on the Star Trek franchise. He sold off a substantial part of his personal Star Trek possessions in the Profiles in History's The Bob Justman Star Trek Auction of 27 June 2002.


Justman died at his home in Los Angeles due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 81 years old. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Jacqueline, and their three children: a daughter, Jennifer, and two sons, Jonathan and William. Also surviving Justman is his brother, Anthony; his sisters, Estelle Osborne and Jill Roach; and five grandchildren. [6]

Producing credits


Justman was interviewed for the following Star Trek specials:


External links

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