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Trailblazing Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana dies

Fontana is credited with helping to carve out a path for female writers in the sci-fi genre.
Credit: AP
Members of the "Star Trek" crew, from left, in front: DeForest Kelley, William Shanter, and Leonard Nimoy, and back row from left: James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols toast the newest "Trek" film -- in which Shatnter makes his directorial debut --"Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," during a news conference at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, Dec. 28, 1988. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)

WASHINGTON — Star Trek writer Dorothy Catherine "D.C." Fontana died Dec. 2 at the age of 80, the official "Star Trek" website confirmed.

Described as a legendary mind in sci-fi, Fontana is well known within the genre and is credited with paving a path for female sci-fi writers to join, what had been, a male dominated industry. Fontana's writing on the Star Trek series focused on Vulcan culture and she has been called "the mind behind 'The Original Series' and 'The Animated Series' episodes like 'Yesteryear' and 'Journey to Babel.'"

"Journey to Babel" was where viewers were introduced to Spock's father Sarek, and Spock's mother Amanda. 

Fontana was also a co-writer on "The Next Generation" which won a Hugo Award. Dorothy Catherine Fontana used the gender-blind on screen credit of "D.C. Fontana," a moniker that she became known as. D.C. Fontana has writing credits for 11 episodes of the original "Star Trek."

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Fontana once said in an interview, "most people ignore the fact that I was a writer before "Star Trek." Fontana was a prolific writer for other shows in and outside of the sci-fi genre. She is credited with writing for episodes of "The Waltons," "Bonanza," "Babylon 5," "The Six Million Dollar Man, "Kung Fu" and "Logan's Run," among others. 

Fontana most recently worked as a senior lecturer at the American Film Institute.

According to AFI, Fontana's career spanned nearly six decades, contributing to a "generation's worth of classic television." She has been nominated for a WGA Award, and earned the Morgan Cox Award in 2002.

Fontana was named to the American Screenwriters Association’s hall of fame two times, with at least 48 produced credits in TV.

Fontana is survived by her husband Dennis Skotak, an Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer. The family asks that memorial donations be made to the Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society or the American Film Institute.