"Paint her greener!"
October 15, 2015 6:25 AM   Subscribe

The green Orion slave girl. Star Trek's almost-forgotten 1965 original pilot contained a sequence that would later become iconic: the dancing, seductive green Orion slave girl. Getting her to stay green, though, was a different matter entirely.

Makeup artist Fred Philips used actress Majel Barrett (cast as the second-in-command of the Enterprise and the future Mrs. Gene Roddenberry) to test the all-green alien makeup.

Instead of green, photos of Ms. Barrett kept coming back with her looking all normal. This happened on three separate occasions until the amusing culprit was discovered: the film developer thought it was a mistake and was color-correcting the images!

Evidently, he didn't think it was "worth a man's soul."
posted by zooropa (28 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just because I saw this a few months ago, don't forget that green alien was played by Susan Oliver, an incredibly interesting and talented actress. A fairly decent overview of her career can be seen on The Green Girl.
posted by xingcat at 6:28 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Post on Susan Oliver from earlier in the year.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Stay green" sounds like something an aging Ruby Rhod would say to his grandkids.
posted by mhoye at 6:50 AM on October 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


I wonder if as an homage to Goldfinger they left a patch on her stomach unpainted.
posted by three blind mice at 6:54 AM on October 15, 2015


Ctrl-F "not easy being green." Disappointing.
posted by Phssthpok at 6:55 AM on October 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


There were of course two green Orion slave girls. I was a bit partial to Yvonne Craig, I must say.
posted by vacapinta at 6:55 AM on October 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder if as an homage to Goldfinger they left a patch on her stomach unpainted.

Probably not since that movie was just a year old at the time.
posted by cellphone at 7:11 AM on October 15, 2015


Surely I can't be the only one who keeps reading it "green Onion slave girl". I'm sure there's a clever joke in there somewhere, but I am drawing a blank right now.
posted by TedW at 7:16 AM on October 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ctrl-F "not easy being green." Disappointing.

Try it now.
posted by grubi at 7:33 AM on October 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


Re the difficulty with getting the green Orion slave girl to stay green: Kermit said it best...."It's not easy being green".
posted by easily confused at 7:35 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


> During filming she became very tired and a doctor was called in to give her a vitamin B shot.

Is "vitamin B shot" in tales of the 1960s a euphemism for speed, or was this a real thing? It's always John Kennedy or exhausted musicians or actors who are getting them so I assumed it was just some kind of amphetamine cocktail (with, I'm sure, *some* vitamin B included).
posted by bgribble at 7:44 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder if as an homage to Goldfinger they left a patch on her stomach unpainted.

Probably not since that movie was just a year old at the time.


Maybe then to Bedlam (starring Boris Karloff) from 1946.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:47 AM on October 15, 2015


There were of course two green Orion slave girls.

And remember, kids, Kirk slept with neither.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


...the film developer thought it was a mistake and was color-correcting the images!

It's gonna be fun in about 30 or 40 years, when people start curating all those hipstamatic/Instagrammed/Nashvilled pictures from the first part of the 21st century, and color-correcting them because "man, the color is all fucked-up on these old pics your grandparents took."
posted by Thorzdad at 8:16 AM on October 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is "vitamin B shot" in tales of the 1960s a euphemism for speed, or was this a real thing? It's always John Kennedy or exhausted musicians or actors who are getting them so I assumed it was just some kind of amphetamine cocktail (with, I'm sure, *some* vitamin B included).

I think you are correct.
posted by ghharr at 8:35 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]




I think you are correct.

Reading that link. Wow: "[H]is 'miracle tissue regenerator' shots, which consisted of amphetamines, animal hormones, bone marrow, enzymes, human placenta, painkillers, steroids, and multivitamins"

Just those three bolded things alone are enough to make the average person into the love child of Speedy Gonzalez and the Tasmanian Devil.
posted by grubi at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not easy being green.

This is a fun game.
posted by maryr at 10:15 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


This kind of thing is pretty common in books and comics, an editor "correcting" something that was intentionally weird. (Can you imagine being Gene Wolfe's copyeditor?) But I've never heard of it happening in films before.
posted by straight at 10:36 AM on October 15, 2015


This is also a Spock anecdote:
2. Mr. Spock's skin color was originally different.
Originally, Gene Roddenberry and friends wanted Spock's skin to be a dark red, or at least to have a red tint. This was abandoned when they realized that on black-and-white TVs, Spock's skin would look black, possibly as if Spock was in blackface. Plus Leonard Nimoy would have needed hours more in makeup every morning. (See early Spock concept art, with a very different uniform design and a skullcap, at left, via Star Trek History.) Eventually, it was decided to make Spock's skin yellow-tinged instead — but when the network converted the film for the first episode for electronic broadcasting, the network's color specialist, Alex Quroga, "corrected" Spock's face to make it look pinker. (Watch "The Man Trap," and you can still see a more pink-faced Spock.)
I had heard a combined version of this over the years -- that Spock was supposed to be green.
posted by Etrigan at 10:52 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favourite editing story. In Orwell's 1984 Winston Smith is re-educated by the Party, and taught that 2+2=5. When he is released, he writes 2+2= .... but leaves it blank, and therefore ambiguous. Many copy editors assume this is a mistake, and correct it, so that it reads 2+2=4, apparently a triumph for the human spirit - but wrong.
posted by Major Tom at 10:56 AM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I had heard a combined version of this over the years -- that Spock was supposed to be green.

"Logic? My God, the man's talking about logic; we're talking about universal Armageddon! You green-blooded, inhuman..."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


that Spock was supposed to be green.

He was, to a degree, because of his copper based blood. I remember one of the early jigsaw puzzles had him just flat green.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


A hilarious opera disaster, beautifully described by Bernard Levin, which might have been the result of a "correction" by someone not in the know.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


Another in the 'hue and cry' category of green ladyhood gone awry: In the early days of color TV, RCA and CBS were locked in mortal combat over whose system was going to get FCC approval (and thus massive patent revenues if color actually took off - which, it's easy to forget, was by no means certain).

After various unsatisfactory tests and a great deal of political bickering, the FCC decreed there should be a 'side by side' comparison between the two systems, both televising the same programming - provided by both companies - in one studio and sent to TV sets next to each other in another building called the Temporary-E.

RCA had the superior system (and eventually won), but it had had some disastrous initial public tests. In particular, the color drifted dramatically as the receivers warmed up, not helped by the tests being done in a heatwave. As a temporary measure, RCA wired up a remote hue control to the receivers that a watching engineer could tweak.

Let's go over to TV historian Bob Cooper in the studio.

"CBS produced a "Woman's Program" with an auburn haired hostess. Well, she had auburn hair on rehearsal day and as RCA would be staffing each of its receivers with a "hue control engineer" who would make constant (as required) adjustments to the receivers during the telecasts, notes were passed from the WNBW studio to the Temporary-E engineers as to what colors to expect and therefore indirectly how to adjust the hue controls. But CBS pulled a fast one - on the day of the actual telecast, the same lady appeared with what George Brown described as, "a ghastly shade of pink hair." Naturally the RCA engineers at the receiving site thought their TV sets had gone whacko and immediately began twisting the hue control to compensate. When they somehow managed to turn ghastly pink hair into auburn, the lady had a green face. The FCC personnel watching this without knowledge of the subterfuge dismissed the entire RCA display as, "RCA is out of adjustment - again.""
posted by Devonian at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


My Dad told a story about getting fired from a TV station where he worked because he sneaked in drunk one night and repainted all the wooden fruit that was used to calibrate the (primitive, experimental) color TV cameras. My best guess would be about 1951 or 52. The 'fruit bowl' in question was in a small niche with direct lighting and shielded from outside light so it wasn't really all that visible to casual inspection. He'd repainted the bananas purple or some such, and the apples yellow or something.

The next morning (a Saturday) the crew came in that afternoon and calibrated the cameras for that afternoon's University of Illinois football game broadcast, the first live shot of which showed a bright, lurid, purple playing field.

The university president was watching on his nice experimental receiver. My dad's career in television ended about one microsecond later.
posted by pjern at 3:36 PM on October 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


QuietDesperation: that was a brilliant story! Thank you for posting the link.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:43 PM on October 15, 2015


Huh. Lots of puzzles had green Spocks.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:21 AM on October 16, 2015


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