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Joseph Westheimer

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

Joseph Westheimer

Gender: Male
Date of birth: 18 May 1916
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Date of death: 6 November 1998
Place of death: Los Alamitos, California
Awards for Trek: 3 Emmy Award nominations
Roles: Visual Effects Producer/Supervisor

Joseph "Joe" Westheimer (18 May 19166 November 1998; age 82) was a was a visual, at the time still called special, effects artist on Star Trek: The Original Series. He was the co-recipient in 1967 of one Emmy Award nomination for for his work on the series, as well as the recipient of two additional ones on behalf of his company in the two consecutive years.

Westheimer began working in the movie industry at the age of 15, first as a messenger at the Warner Bros. studio, and later in the prop department. After graduating in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, he joined the visual effects department of the studio, then led by Byron Haskin (who later worked as associate producer on "The Cage"). During World War II, Westheimer worked on propaganda and army training films. Afterwards, he returned to the field of visual effects and started his own firm, The Westheimer Company in 1955.

Along with virtually every other special effects house in existence at the time, The Westheimer Company was hired by Robert Justman and Edward K. Milkis after they realized that the Howard Anderson Company alone was not able to fulfill the demands of a series such as Star Trek. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story)

While operating his company, Westheimer has, outside Star Trek, provided special effects for several series, including The Twilight Zone and The Big Valley, and later worked on major films, such as The Glory Guys (1965) and Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). On personal title he provided "additional photography" for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), albeit uncredited.

Joseph Westheimer died at 82 years of age, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Emmy Award nominations

Westheimer received the following Emmy Award nomination in the category "Individual Achievements in Cinematography" for his work on Star Trek:

As The Westheimer Company, he received the following Emmy Award nominations in the category "Special Classification of Individual Achievements: Special Photographic Effects" for their work on Star Trek:

Further reading

  • "Out-of-this-world Special Effects for 'Star Trek'", Rae Moore, American Cinematographer, October 1967, pp. 715-717
  • "Where No Show Had Gone Before", Jan Alan Henderson, American Cinematographer, January 1992, pp. 34-40
  • "Special Visual Effects", Daniel Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol 27 #11, 1996, pp. 64-75
  • "In Memoriam: Jospeh Westheimer", American Cinematographer, January 1999, p. 118

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