Star Trek TOS Designer John Jefferies Passes Away

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 Here are direct links to the portion of the evening focusing on the original Star Trek and Jefferies.

CLICK to watch Jefferies/TOS Tribute

CLICK to watch John Jefferiesfrom ADG event in 2010

UPDATE: Variety obituary

Daily Variety has posted an obituary for Jefferies. You can read it at

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He will always be remembered.

Farewell, Brother John.

Thanks for helping to create a world we can believe in.

R.I.P. Mr Jefferies.

Rest in peace, sir.

RIP Jhon Jefferies the vision and designer of TOS is CLASSIC.

Thank you. Best to your family.

It’s amazing just how much hard work went into this “little show,” and just how brilliant that work was.

Oh, and TOS phaser pistol? Best ray gun EVER!

Godspeed Mr. Jefferies.

god bless — rest in peace

Mr. Jefferies was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I’m so glad I got the chance to meet him and talk with him…

I’m so sorry to hear of Mr. Jefferies passing, he was a very nice man, as was his brother. Once again we loose another from a very creative group of professionals who created a very special television program.

RIP my good man.

Sadly, an important piece of Star Trek passes on with him but never forgotten.

He visually *was Star Trek

I didn’t get to know him very well, though I did work for him briefly in 1981 on Greatest American Hero. Well, technically I was working for him, though he actually sent me over to work with Robert Culp, whom we also just lost, for three or four days. We owe a great deal to John and Matt Jefferies both.

RIP. John Jeffries

The Jeffries brothers were incredibly talented and their influence is still seen and felt today.

Very sad news, my best wishes go out to his family. John Jeffreys will be sadly missed.

RIP John Jefferies, and my condolences to his family.

John and his brother Matt will always be remembered for the great timeless designs they gave us.


You will be remembered through Star Treks legacy forever

A talented man, and clearly a life well lived.
Condolences to his family and friends.

Had the honor of speaking with him at the Trekexpo in Tulsa where he was selling a fabulous bio of his brother. He was very generous with his time and had many great stories. And yes…the TOS phaser 1 & 2 combo remains the coolest sci fi weapon ever. Thank you sir, rest in peace.

Thrusters on full Mr Jefferies you will be remembered threw your great works.

darn it!!!

this is sssooooo sad! :(

John. Second star to the right and straight on till morning. Rest in Peace Sir. You will be missed.

This is a real shame. Rest in peace.

Rest in peace John. You will be missed!

His sets and art from TOS inspired my imagination and wonder as it did many, many others. Very well done. :}

God bless both of them for what they gave us and shared with us. John & Matt Jefferies are now designing the ultimate Star Trek set for all time.


Enjoy your own ‘trek’ through the stars..

All my best to the family. We, the fans, owe such a thanks to John, and all those who worked, and still work keeping Trek alive. To Rick, Mike and Darren, I say a personal thank you for all that you have done over the years, those efforts still bring a lot of enjoyment to millions of people.

RIP John, thanx for all your hard work helping to design our Trek! Thanx also to Rick Sternbach for sharing with us and Mike Okuda also!

Ack! I had just seen him last year when I attended the ADG event. Godspeed, Mr. Jefferies.

Goodbye mister Jeffries, we will miss you.

Thank you john @ matt for what you have given us. When my appt time comes I’ve got lots of trek to look forward to. Eternaly!

@20: If you’re referring to TrekExpo 2009 in Tulsa, I think you may be remembering Matt and John’s other brother, Richard, who wrote the tribute book BEYOND THE CLOUDS. I was at that con, as well, and bought a copy of the book from Richard and his lovely wife. I also listened to him tell stories throughout the weekend.

As for John, like Matt, he left an indelible mark on the Trek universe, and will be greatly missed. My condolences to the Jefferies family.

Phil “Phillip” Jefferies was the oldest sibling. Matt was the middle brother, and John was the youngest. Brother Phil contributed his ideas to brother Matt when the initial design phase was formulating the conceptual art work for the original “Star Trek” space ships and weapons. An exhibit of the space ship exterior design, as well, other space rockets and airplane/ships, the interior consoles and interior floor plans, conceptual designs, gadgets, weapons, uniforms, were part of the wall art displayed. The US Space agency, including the Air Force and military personnel were privately invited to view this design exhibit. They were astonished to find the similarity with the conceptual space ship designs with their own space rocket program designs. They gave their stamp of approval to Matt, (John and Phil included), for the direction of his television pilot space show ideas and design concepts. And here is another “Star Trek” story to remember in honoring the Jefferies team of brothers!

Hello to all and thank you for all your kind words about my husband. He was much loved by many, and will be sorely missed by all. He was my dearest partner. Just a note of correction re: the birth order of the brothers. Matt was the oldest, born in 1921, then came Richard in 1923, Phillip arrived in 1925 and John followed in 1936. All 3 brothers who have gone are sorely missed by their loved ones, and Richard is much cherished. Thanks again for your sympathy. Sincerely, Laurie Jefferies

Another film and TV industry hero of mine passes away.

Rest in peace, Mr. Jeffries! My thoughts and prayers will be with your surviving family.

The sound of a bell that ring three time mean a man may put to rest after a battle is done. The bell has rang for you ,Jeffries may you warp to your nex duty station and find you shipmates well.

I am the granddaughter of john jefferies of his adopted son albert (jeff) Jefferies and I would love to know anything about any of my family, if anyone could help me out it would be very much appreciated .