How D.C. Fontana Got Her Start

Fontana remembered, “The first time a television script crossed my desk, I said, ‘I can do this.’ That’s when I got really interested in writing for television.”

Once Fontana realized that the main suppliers of programming for TV were relocating to Los Angeles, she also decided to make the move. Landing in LA in 1959, she learned that Revue Studios, the maker of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train and Leave it to Beaver, needed typists. It was a nowhere job for most but, once inside the studio system, Fontana kept a watchful eye on the job postings. One was for a western called Overland Trail. The producer needed a secretary, and that brought Fontana to Samuel Peeples. He became more than a boss; he was also a mentor…

Peeples liked Fontana’s confidence and told her to start writing. That first script was credited to Dorothy C. Fontana. Peeples had no qualms about associating a woman writer with his shoot-’em-up series, but others would.

“I was being turned down for interviews,” she recalled. “They were saying, ‘Oh, well, I don’t think a woman can write this show.’ And it would be a western. And I’d say, ‘But I’ve got six credits on westerns. Why don’t you think I can write this?'”

The answer was always the same: writers for television came with first names like Gene, Sam, and Rod – not Dorothy. And so the pen name of D.C. Fontana was born.

Marc Cushman, These are the Voyages: TOS: Season One, 2013.

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