Today we continue yesterday’s interview with former Paramount art coordinator and Star Trek archivist, Penny Juday…
CB: How often does Star Trek enter your thoughts now that you no longer work for Paramount? I heard that Star Trek video supervisor and graphic artist Denise Okuda introduced you to your husband, Anthony Fredrickson, while working on Deep Space Nine.
PJ: We talk about it every day. Not that we want to—it just is I used to tell everyone who would listen, and probably still do—that Star Trek paid for my house, my car, my clothes, my pets, my food, my gas, well you get the idea. If I owned it Trek bought it for me since we both worked for Trek for so many years which was considered a coup in the film industry—to get a show that lasted that long was unheard of. As far Anthony… poor guy … apparently had a crush on me for eight years. He was very shy. Most people didn’t even know who he was, just the guy in graphics. So he never really asked me out. I had no idea. He would talk to me at lunch, bring me little trinkets, hover when I was in the DS9 art department–always so sweet to me. We were very good friends. So one day Denise Okuda and I are picking up some crew jackets, I was complaining bitterly about the lack of great guys to date. So she tells me about the guy who sits next to her and how he has been in love with me for many years. “Anthony?” I said. Yes, I just couldn’t believe my ears. Then all the clues hit me–I am just oblivious at times, I guess. So the game was afoot: I was invited to an Oscar party, I call Anthony and ask him to lunch, I take him to my favorite spot near Paramount, I ask him if he would like to go to this party with me, just as friends—I didn’t want to frighten him. He tells me he has other plans. “Rats,” I thought. Oh, well. We are almost finished with lunch and he tells me he has changed his mind and he will alter his plans. “Great,” I said, “I will pick you up.” I got the car washed, I flew to Vegas to my favorite guy and had my hair done, I bought a new outfit. Now I had never seen him in anything but a T-shirt and jeans. He comes out in a navy blue double breasted jacket. Man, who is this? It was over for me. I made up my mind as did he apparently and we have been together ever since.
CB: Do you still watch the series and Star Trek movies? What are your favorite episodes and scenes as a fan of Star Trek, and are there any of your favorites that you were part of creating?
PJ: My favorite scenes are endless. I think “Trials and Tribble-ations” from Deep Space Nine is probably my favorite of all, then “Little Green Men,” also from Deep Space Nine, where Quark is making the military look very smart. The comedies are the best. I know it wasn’t a comedy show, but I wish they had done more. It worked so well. On the other hand you have actors like Avery Brooks and Patrick Stewart, with their backgrounds and complete ability to become any character they choose, and so convincing. Watching them work, I would get goose bumps being around them. That’s not to say that I am pretty sure all the girls got goose bumps being near them. Sorry, got lost there. Watching Christopher Plummer in the Klingon court room, my very first experience at being on a Star Trek set… that was a surprise for me. I was speechless. The scenes are endless because I felt Star Trek was one of the best shows ever made. And the pranks, moving an entire company from Paramount out to locations, just being on set and watching the cast and crew.
CB: I have always been a fan of Trials and Tribble-ations, too. What was your involvement with that episode and what was it like to have all those actors walking around in Original Series garb, with 1960s-style props and sets?
PJ: That show made just about all of us nostalgic. We loved it. It was a great challenge to make it look like the real thing, so to speak. The best part was the tribbles, of course. A fun note: Bob Key, who was in charge of the fabric drapery department, was working at Desilu at the time and remembers how the tribbles were made. Not a tough thing really, but he was very important for choosing colors and types of fur (fake of course) that was used. I was surprised any of the tribbles made it through the show as stuff vanished as if on a transporter pad constantly.
CB: You have appeared in several video and DVD featurettes, including “Penny’s Toy Box” where you give fans a glimpse at Nimoy’s maroon Starfleet uniform from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country and various prop masks and weapons. Before the Christies and It’s a Wrap auctions (where Paramount sold off most of the Star Trek collection) you were the caretaker of the archive of thousands of pieces of Hollywood history. You also set up the museum at the Star Trek Experience that used to be in Las Vegas as well as the traveling museums that have circled the planet. What are your favorite props or costumes from the franchise and are there any specific props or costumes that you, as a Star Trek insider for so many years, consider to be the most iconic?
PJ: I felt the most awed I think working with Mr. Shatner’s costumes. Even though they were from the features and not the original series it was so cool to be able to be the caretaker of things he had used and worn. Quite a few of the costumes in the Las Vegas museum were reproductions as so many things were missing. I have a lot of great stories about putting the collection together. One of my favorites is Kirk’s broken reading glasses that McCoy gave him [in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan]… of course those were long gone so “the game was afoot” to find a matching pair. I can’t tell you how many older eyeglass shops I was in with photo frame grab in hand showing it to shop owner after shop owner. Nothing. So one lovely day my gang and I are having lunch on Larchmont Blvd, which is blocks away from Paramount Studios. I see this tiny eyeglass shop that has obviously been there for many years. It hit me that the prop master might have gone there having been so close to the lot, duh. I took my photo and my chance and went in. A young clerk went to get the owner and must have thought I was nuts… this small elderly gentleman comes out, examines the photo, I explain why I want them, he says “not only do I have the exact same pair, but I sold the originals to the prop master and I have the case they came in.” Yup…
The other experience I will never forget… we had a DeForest Kelley costume from one of the early films. I knew he was small, meaning very thin, but do you think it dawned on me just how thin? I bought a teenage boy mannequin for Mr. Kelley’s costume just to make sure I would have no issues getting the piece of iconic history into place. Not to be… there we were days before opening, mannequins are very expensive. I can barely get the pants over the thighs and not even close to going over the back side sitting area of the large fiberglass doll… So I go the art director and explain the problem, feeling not very bright of course, he says let me dwell on this for a bit as life is utterly crazy of course trying to get The Experience open. A few hours later he shows up with a hack saw… there the two of us were on the floor hacksawing off the buttocks of the mannequin. I was laughing so hard I could barely help get this done. We still barely got the pants on.
CB: You now have a business designing jewelry, and some of the jewelry has been worn on TV. Can you share some details about that?
PJ: My shop is called The Lost Box which is in downtown Tehachapi, California. There is a webstore, www.thelostbox.com, which is currently wiped out from the holidays so I am working to get more goodies listed. I specialize in one of a kind wearable artworks of jewelry like the steampunks which seem to be a favorite as I cannot keep them in stock. I also work with precious and semi-precious stones and metals. I love getting a strand of amethyst stones and making it into an incredible piece of jewelry that will be worn for hopefully generations to come. And one of my pieces, a copper beaded strand, will be on an episode of NCIS. The guest star has it on. There are more pieces out to other shows. I am just not sure when they will air. Having been in the business for so many years really helps with contacts and getting the jewelry used on the shows.
CB: I know that today you run a cat rescue shelter. Can you tell us more about that?
PJ: There are always dumped and stray cats on the lots at the studios. Now it’s even epidemic, I might add. Anyway, after feeding and trying to care for as many as I could that were living under our lot trailer, a co-worker tells me of a person on the lot who has proclaimed that she is the cat caregiver. I called her. The beginning of the end for me! (Just kidding). She jumped right in and helped out several of them. As we talked I learned her goal is to make a real cat rescue and non-profit organization. Here we are 15, 16 years later with preciouspaws.org. I call it “recycling kitties.” We save them, clean them up and find homes–we hope. Donations are so way down as you might imagine these last two years that it has become a struggle to keep the doors open. We do have a great back up team, like most the Brady Bunch cast is huge in supporting us–Susan Olsen just did an interview with The Today Show with brand new kittens. I do not know when it will air. Going back to the beginning… I had no intention of really getting involved. I was busy with school, the films, etc., however, I started working with the cats just three months after my twin and nephew were killed so I figured this was given to me to help with the horrible grief. So here I am… my twin was a rescuer as well. Since I can remember we were always rescuing something, and we became known on the lot as the rescuers–right down to little birds, we got the call. So many stories about them, I could write a book just about the cats alone: the “coffee can” rescue, the “cat under the manhole cover,” the “cat caught in the gate,” the “long-haired calico dumped in a stair well,” where I took her home and Anthony said, “where’d you get the carpet?” So her name was “car’pet.” Then there were the tiny babies we would find scattered about the lot that took us three litters before we were able to catch the mom with trickery. A lot of people on the lot spent time on that rescue. If Paramount only knew how much money they spent helping us! For anyone able to donate to preciouspaws.org, please check out the website as donations are always appreciated. Donations can be sent any time to Penny at ahabbud [at] aol [dot] com!