TrekMovie.com is sad to announce that another member of the original Star Trek family has passed away. Robert Justman, a producer on both Star Trek The Original Series and Star Trek The Next Generation died at his home in Los Angeles Wednesday from complications due to Parkinson’s disease; Justman was 81.
A major force behind the scenes
Robert Justman’s life with Trek started in 1964 with the first pilot for Star Trek The Original Series, “The Cage” where he was brought in as an associate producer and he remained with the series until half way through the third season. Justman described his responsibilities on the show in an interview with TrekMovie last year:
You know how today there are 20 or 30 producers on a show. On Star Trek Gene Roddenberry was the executive producer and there were two associate producers: John D.F. Black, who was for the stories, and Bob Justman, who did everything else. If anything needed handling and there wasn’t anyone to do it I would make it mine. That meant that I had input into story and script, casting, set design, set cost, set dressing, props, cutting…every function that has to be handled by someone I would do.
While Roddenberry, Black, DC Fontana and Gene Coon were focusing on the scripts, it was Justman who was the producer on the set and handling much of the hiring and firing and post-production for the show (including overseeing the effects and music). He left the show in the third season after he felt it was declining in quality. However, he came back to Trek when Gene Roddenberry brought him in as a supervising producer for Star Trek The Next Generation in 1986. Justman worked closely with Roddenberry in putting together the series and had a big influence in the creation of the characters and the casting. In fact it was Justman that found and pushed for the casting of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, something that Roddenberry initially resisted. As the first season of TNG wound down Justman left the show and retired, feeling that he had done the job he came to do. In the LA Times obituary on Justman, Rick Berman (who worked closely with him on TNG) said of Justman:
I can’t tell you how nurturing this guy was to me. He was like a mentor and a father. He was extraordinary. Justman designed sets, models and visual effects and oversaw character and script development for the debut of “The Next Generation.”
Justman recounted his time with Trek in one of the best insider accounts, the 1996 book “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story” written with Herb Solow.
Bob Justman even got a shuttlecraft named after him
There was much more to Robert Justman’s life then just Star Trek. Born in New York City in 1926, Justman served as a Radioman in the US Navy during World War II. After the war he attended UCLA before entering a career in film and television production. He served as a production assistant on a number of films in the 1950s and then moved on to become an associate producer and assistant director for both film and TV. Justman was assistant director on films such as ”Kiss Me Deadly” (1955) and ”Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962) as well as 12 episodes of “The Adventures of Superman” (1954-55) and 20 episodes of “The Outer Limits” (1963-65). Between leaving Star Trek in 1969 and his return with Next Generation in 1986, Justman focused on producing, working on such shows as ‘Mission: Impossible”, and ”The Man from Atlantis.” In addition to all of that, Justman also served as a uniformed volunteer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for more than 20 years.
Justman proudly showed me his badge after an interview last year.
Robert Justman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Jacqueline; a daughter, Jennifer; his sons Jonathan and William; two sisters, Estelle Osborne and Jill Roach; a brother, Anthony; and five grandchildren.
Nimoy on a very sad week in Star Trek
Justman is the third member of the Original Series to pass away recently. In a message to the fans sent in to TrekMovie.com, Leonard Nimoy reflects on the recent passings::
In quick succession we have lost Joe Pevney who was one of the best directors of Star Trek episodes along with Marc Daniels who passed some time ago. Both brought a rich theatricality to the work which made their episodes shine.
We have also lost Bob Justman who was a treasure to me. He would listen wisely, with an honest ear, and respond helpfully whenever there were creative differences of opinion. Also Alexander Courage who wrote the, now, unforgettable original theme music.
All made major contributions for which we can all be thankful.
– Leonard Nimoy