The Legendary Wah Ming Chang: ‘Star Trek’s’ Phantom Prop Maker

Movie and tv props are among the many most hotly collected objects from the leisure business. Fans participate in auctions to accumulate these one-of-a-kind and uncommon objects, usually created by hand for one movie or show.

Part of the joys of proudly owning one thing seen on movie or on tv consists of that nostalgia and the truth that a “star” used it. In truth, followers can browse the “Star Trek” film and show memorabilia out there to buy now from thePropStore. For some collectors, there’s extra to it than simply being star-struck. According to the collector web, some gather props from their favourite films merely as an appreciation.

“It’s additionally about celebrating the behind-the-scenes creativity and processes,” thearticle states. Owning a small piece of film or TV historical past is an appreciation of “the hundreds of hours and the tons of of proficient individuals who contribute to bringing us that ninety-odd minutes of leisure.”

‘Star Trek’ Props

And because the writer rightly factors out,a lot of what viewers see on displaytoday is created on a pc display and never one thing anybody can maintain of their fingers. Many of the objects seen in “Star Trek: Discovery” fall into this class. For instance, the weapons that seem on the dangerous guys’ fists and wristsat the beginning of Season 3had been all CGI.

This was not the case for “Star Trek” when it began. For one factor, there was no such factor as “computer-generated” tv graphics. Anything that wanted for use on the show have to be made in actual life. CGI wouldn’t enter the world of leisuretill the Nineteen Eighties.

And so, Gene Roddenberry assembled his group of creatives to place his imaginative and prescient on tv. Many of those names are acquainted to Trek followers.Walter “Matt” Jefferiescreated the Enterprise, the Klingon battle cruiser, and a lot of what followers noticed contained in the ships.William Ware Theisscreated the uniforms for the crew and the costumes for everybody else.Fred Phillipsmade folks inexperienced, blue or gave them pointed ears. But there’s one identify lacking from this record.

Wah Ming Chang was a gifted sculptor who was the inventive thoughts behind an unbelievable quantity of props for “Star Trek.” Chang, born in Honolulu, was acknowledged as a genius in his childhood. He was gifted as a sculptor, illustrator, and puppeteer. He received an Oscar for his work on the 1961 movie “The Time Machine” and likewise labored on “The Outer Limits” and “Planet of the Apes.” He additionally created a brief movie known as “Dinosaurs: The Terrible Lizards,” which featured his abilities on full show.

‘Dinosaur: The Terrible Lizards’

According to theLos Angeles Times, Chang’s work was not restricted to only science fiction. He additionally made the masks for the ballet sequence in Yul Brenner’s “The King and I.” He additionally constructed the intricate headdress for the movie “Cleopatra.” Chang additionally created the very firstPillsbury Doughboy, which is now made with laptop graphics. He additionally labored for Walt Disney, creating the fashions on which the animators primarily based their drawings.

Thanks to the e-book “Star Trek Sketchbook,” authorsHerbert F. Solowand Yvonne Fern Solow defined that Chang’s identify will not be acquainted to the tens of millions of Trek followers like his contemporaries due to “union problems and restrictions.” Mr. Solow was the chief producer of the primary two seasons of TOS.

A characteristic article onStarTrek.comlists Chang’s accomplishments within the following order — “the phaser, the communicator, the tricorder, the Gorn, the primary Romulan ship, the tribble, and the record goes on…”

Wang’s Gorn Costume

The story goes that after TOS producerRobert Justman was not gladwith the look of the phaser props, they introduced in Chang, who had created the alien prosthetic heads for “The Cage.” Chang created new phasers, which served as the premise for all Trek weapons which adopted — besides thenotorious phaser rifle.

Chang created the well-known “faux” alien head, which was featured in “The Corbomite Maneuver,” the Romulan helmets for “The Balance of Terror,” and the “Salt Vampire” costume for “The Man Trap.”

In the “Star Trek Sketchbook” Solow wrote that Chang’s “ability infused compassion and tenderness into the latex masks” for the Salt Vampire. He additionally created the Vulcan harp which Spock (Leonard Nimoy) performed in “Charlie X.” Truth be informed, it appears that there have been only a few props for TOS which Chang didn’t make. The “Star Trek Sketchbook” even consists of copies of the receipts that Desilu Studios paid to Chang.

Changhanded away in 2003, however his legacy of labor will dwell on for many years to come back.

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