(written from a Production point of view)
|Stephen E. Whitfield|
|Birth name:||Stephen Edward Poe|
|Date of birth:||18 March 1936|
|Date of death:||6 January 2000|
|Place of death:||Reno, Nevada, USA|
|Roles:||Star Trek reference author|
Stephen Edward Poe (18 March 1936 – 6 January 2000; age 63) was a successful author who has written the very first specialized reference book on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a Star Trek production, The Making of Star Trek.
In 1966 Poe, employed at a Phoenix, Arizona-based advertising agency, was an account manager for model kit company Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT), serving as a consultant for marketing and communications purposes. In that capacity he was instrumental in brokering a deal between Desilu and AMT for the latter to acquire the rights to produce model kits based on the new Star Trek show, starting a decades long association between that company and the franchise. In return AMT was to help out the studio with the construction of set pieces when required. Also, Poe was given free access to the studio which in 1968 resulted in the publication of The Making of Star Trek, a book he wrote under the name Stephen E. Whitfield, his stepfather's surname. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is credited as co-author for the book, although his contributions were minimal. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 402) For many years, this was the only book on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the production of Star Trek. Aside from writing the book, Poe has remained the primary liaison between the studio and AMT for the entire production run of the Original Series. Roddenberry has always been appreciative of Poe's contribution and has expressed this when he presented the second tooling master model of the D7-class studio model to Poe after the series wrapped, which he was forced to offer up for auction in 1998, in order to cover medical expenses.
In this period Poe was also involved in an incident with Montgomery Scott actor James Doohan, which had comic overtures. Doohan took a shining to Poe's car, a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham, and vigorously tried to acquire it from Poe. Poe, claiming the car was "cursed" initially refused to sell it to Doohan, but ultimately relented. Within a year the car was involved in two costly (material) accidents and Doohan, now convinced that the car was indeed haunted, subsequently re-sold it. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 337)
Thirty years later, he published his second Star Trek book, A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, this time under his own name. While writing the book, Poe was already battling cancer, to which he would succumb two years later. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 84)
Career outside Star TrekEdit
Though he had to share credit and royalties with him, Stephen Poe got along well with Gene Roddenberry, not in the least due to the fact that both men shared a common background as pilot. Roddenberry famously had a soft-spot for people who, like him, had a history as pilot. Poe had a background as a Marine Corps pilot and Intelligence Officer and held a commercial pilot's license in both fix-wing aircraft and helicopters.
Poe had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed traveling, hunting, fishing, sailing, as well as music and writing, the latter he did abundantly in the form of articles for magazines, newspapers and technical, trade and historical journals. The experience thus gained, served him well for his very first book, which happened to be The Making of Star Trek. In 1959 he started to work in the field of advertising and public relations and by the time his book was published he had switched over from the Phoenix firm to AMT as Director of National Advertising and Promotion. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 403)
During his stay at Desilu/Paramount Television, he met and interviewed the show's Art Director, Matt Jefferies (who also held a commercial pilot's license), eventually befriending him. Together with Jefferies, aside from conceptualizing the Star Trek model kits, Poe developed in 1968 the Strategic Space Command concept for Poe's employer AMT, being a themed science fiction model kit line AMT wanted to introduce in order to capitalize on the huge success of their first two Star Trek model kits, the USS Enterprise (No. S921) and the Klingon Battle cruiser (No. S952). wbm The first model kit of the line, the Leif Ericson (No. S954), designed by Jefferies, was a commercial failure, and the project was dropped by AMT.
Poe has worked with Alcoholics Anonymous, compiling A Concordance to Alcoholics Anonymous (published in 1990) with his wife Francis.
- "Stephen Poe's Books", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, May 2000, pp. 82-84