John Jefferies, a designer for the original Star Trek, passed away on March 25th, from complications from lung cancer. John worked with his brother and the art director for Star Trek, the late Matt Jefferies. John was 74. More information and tributes to Jefferies below.
RIP John Jefferies
News of the passing of John Jefferies comes from the Art Director’s Guild, which sent out the following announcement:
John Jefferies, a retired Set Designer and Art Director and longtime member of both Local 847 and Local 876 (now Local 800), died March 25, 2010 from complications from cancer. The memorial services for John will be held on Thursday, April 1, 2010, at 3:00 PM at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068 at the Church of the Hills.
In lieu of flowers, his family has requested that donations be made in John’s name to the American Cancer Society or to a favorite charity.
Veteran Star Trek designer Mike Okuda also provided TrekMovie with the following quote on Mr. Jefferies:
John Jefferies was an important part of the original series design team. Although sometimes overshadowed by his brother, Matt, John Jefferies was a set designer on the original Star Trek who went on to become a noted art director and production designer in his own right. Matt was always generous with credit for his brother. John shared credit for the design of the iconic phaser pistol with his brother. Denise and I never had the privilege of working with John, but he was always gracious to us and to everyone who he worked with.
– Star Trek designer Michael Okuda
John Jefferies at 2009 Art Directors Guild Star Trek event
And the Art Director’s Guild also provided this tribute from one of Jefferies long-time friends and colleagues:
Jefferies was as good and loyal a friend as you could have in this crazy business. I was privileged to work with him on several shows during the early part of my career and in each instance found a man who was talented, resourceful and easygoing. An always healthy dose of humorous cynnicism accompanied all this and it was always easy to get through even a hard day with him. He made sure that no one working with him ever became overwrought about any of the daily problems of production, even in the worst heat of battle. A quiet day would have John looking at his watch about 4:00 PM, furrowing his brow at you from across his neatly kept desk and saying "Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass…," the blue eyes twinkling as he let the implication, without further words, sink in.
Common sense and a clear look at the Big Picture guided his every decision…..he could smell a budget battle coming from down a long hall and was there with a way they could afford the dream before they even asked. These dragons being slain beforehand, the spare time he created by doing this so adroitly was spent talking about his favorite topic; airplanes. He would rock back in his chair and reminisce about some detail of a loving aircraft restoration he was forever undertaking and relish the thought of how it would look when he was finished with it….the final Imron coat on the top of a wing, the polish of crown nut on a landing gear.
As a fellow pilot, I flew with John many times, and rode in every aircraft that came under his meticulous care. He was an excellent pilot, one with whom I always felt safe. We particularly loved our "Breakfast Runs". We would meet at the airport early on a Saturday morning, pick an airport with a good restaurant, then simply get in whatever plane he was in the mood to fly, and go. It was that simple. On the way back I would take the controls and we would skim over the tops of the Santa Susana Mountains, looking for herds of mustangs. He loved to watch them run as we buzzed them, the always-winning slightly rueful smile breaking into a loud guffaw at the sheer delight of it all.
He is gone now, but the joy and the caring never will be. Nor will his magnificent airplane collection, a permanent legacy and perpetual reflection of who this man was.
– Peter Clemens (via Art Directors Guild)
Jefferies at 2009 ADG Star Trek event
In September the Art Director’s Guild held a special event in Hollywood honoring Star Trek, which included a panel with Jefferies along with Star Trek production designers spanning the decades: Joseph R. Jennings, Herman Zimmerman, and Scott Chambliss (Read TrekMovie report).
(L-R) Chambliss, Zimmerman, Jennings and Jefferies
Video from the event is available at ADG.org. Here are direct links to the portion of the evening focusing on the original Star Trek and Jefferies.
UPDATE: Variety obituary
Daily Variety has posted an obituary for Jefferies. You can read it at variety.com.