The screen credit "D.C. Fontana" became a familiar one to several generations of sci-fi television viewers - and Star Trek fans in particular - but most didn't know the pen name belonged to a trailblazing woman hoping to carve out a career in an arena long dominated by male writers, executives, and fans.
The American Film Institute announced today the news of Fontana's passing. It was in science fiction, however, where Fontana made her biggest mark. She was credited with creating key elements of the "Star Trek" mythos, including the details on the backstory of Mr. Spock's upbringing by his human mother Amanda and Vulcan father Sarek. She would later go on to be a producer on Star Trek: The Animated Series, where she wrote the episode "Yesteryear" and on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where she wrote the series pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", in addition to "The Naked Now", "Too Short a Season", and "Heart of Glory". After graduating from New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University, she became a secretary for the head of Screen Gems in NY.
Fontana's death was confirmed by the official "Star Trek" website, which described her as "the legendary writer who brought many of "Star Trek's" greatest episodes to life".
In 2008, IDW Publishing recruited Fontana to write a comic book sequel to her Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident" titled Star Trek: Year Four - The Enterprise Experiment.
Fontana served on the board of directors for the Writers Guild of America West for two terms.
Fontana was feted for her years of service to the WGA with honorary awards in 1997 and 2002.
Most recently, Fontana was a senior lecturer at the American Film Institute.
She is survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer Dennis Skotak.