Archive for the 'heroes' Category


Katherine McCoy and pinup friday

Howdy all and welcome to another addition of pinup Friday.   Today I would like to introduce you to the ever lovely Katherine McCoy of Apple Valley California. I saw Katherine’s portfolio many years ago and I wrote her a note immediately about setting up a shoot. I quickly found out that Katherine rarely got on her Model mayhem page and my message sat in limbo for a good year or so….. Whenever I would come across her page I would drop another note and finally one day last year She got my message and we were able to set up a shoot… We met at Thompson’s Aviation yard and shot on the East side of the site. I borrowed one of the Pan Am uniforms from the Sony lot and that was our first theme.. Thank goodness for the new TV show about Pan Am which made it possible for us to get a really great 60’s style outfit. It fit Kate like a glove and Mark Thompson moved one of his airline ramps up next to a jet fuselage he had and that made for the backdrop of our shoot. The ramp was a bit higher than the door on the jet so we cheated  and shot low angles to help cheat the setups. Katerine really did an awesome job and really captured the era to a “T”.  We got a lot of great pix around that jet and I look forward to posting more as they get edited.. Our next theme was the beloved Red dress and again Kate made the theme sing like it we were back in the 60’s. She added a lot of her own magic to the red dress and can’t wait to put up more… For our final theme before subset we concocted a stylized pilot outfit  and once she was all ready to go, her appearance transformed from a perfect pin up look, to sultry Soviet cold war spy look. Mark had an old Russian helicopter on the back of his lot and we ran over and took my favorite pictures of the day!!! It was a long wait to work with Katherine but it was well worth it… I love the pictures we took and am so glad to have had the opportunity..  Kate is great and I so hope our schedules will allow for another shoot sometime. When not modeling you’ll find Katherine in college studying food and nutrition and her dream is to land a job as a pastry chef at one of the many Disney resorts.. One of her passions is to help those that have been stricken with cancer, (that’s a subject close to my heart) and she volunteers at the American cancer Society. She is currently training for her second relay for life race and I wish her the best in noble pursuits. Heroes are an occasional subject here on the blog and I would have to say Katherine falls into that category. Thanks for fighting for those that can’t!!!!! For more pix of Kate follow the link below and have a look at some of her early modeling.


Raiders of the lost ark, the 30th anniversary

June the 12th, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark hits the big screen, and Indiana Jones becomes one of the biggest heroes of cinema, ever.  This movie was instantly an all time favorite, and I was there on opening day at the Mann Christown Theater in Phoenix to see it.  I was completely blown away on all levels. The action,  the horror, the romance, the way cool props, Steven Spielberg’s awesome direction & George Lucas’s incredible story penned by Lawernce Kasdan, and of coarse that incredible John Williams score.  I wish I could write more but we are leaving town so I’ll try and add more through out the next couple of days so in the mean time, dig out your copies of this one and have a Happy 30th screening.

original poster by Amsel

the idol

Indie, and marion

the incredible map room set

behind the scenes with the set up for the remote control glass eyes of the idol,, only a few frames of this made it to the final film


James arness, an american hero and hollywood legend passes at 88

What sad news to come to at the end of the day!!!  One of my all time favorite actors, James Arness, has passed away today of natural causes at the age of 88.  If you’re a regular reader here on the blog, Mr. Arness was no stranger.  He was a big man towering over most at 6 foot 7 and, with his deep mighty voice, he was an actor not to be reckoned with.  Jim was good friends with John Wayne, and together they made many pictures.  John Wayne was offered the role of Matt Dillon for a new TV western called Gunsmoke; without hesitation he offered the role to his good friend who took on the part of Marshal Dillion from 1955 to 1975.  At one point  in time, CBS had both Gilligan’s Island and Gunsmoke on the air at the same time; due to a new season of shows, one of the viewers’ favorites had to go…. The producers chose Gunsmoke.

From as far back as I can remember, I watched that show until the very end in 1975.  Mr. Arness starred in many, many pictures such as “Island on the Top of the World”,  “Hondo” and a couple of SCI FI Classics, “THEM” and “The Thing”.  James will always be one of my favorites and, along with all you fellow fans out there, we will all miss him greatly.

God’s speed, Jim, and prayers to your family.

Below are some links about Jim from past blog posts as well as a grab from Jim’s page.

James Arness


Happy Easter 2011

Jesus and the tomb

Happy Easter to all of our friends and family  from around the world that visit my blog.  It has been a busy time, and I haven’t been here in a long time but I so wanted to spend a moment and wish everyone a very  Happy Easter and to also thank The Lord for this glorious day.  He has blessed my family so abundantly through the thick and the thin and I am so thankful for all he has done and always answering our prayers. Happy Easter also to our homeland’s brave men and women that are here and abroad preserving our country and the world’s freedom.  Your  service  never goes without great thanks.


Grant McCune, saying good bye to a dear friend

Grant and r2-d2

So Sorry for this very late post, but we lost our internet for the last three weeks and only just got it back up and working.  With that said, the last post of the year was to be about Grant McCune and all the modelers at his shop, but sadly, before it was finished news of Grant’s untimely passing changed the story from one of great fun to one of horrible sadness.

2010 has been a hard year full of many sorrows and tragedies.  We have lost a lot of  Hollywood legends and dear friends, and as the year comes to a close there is one more final goodbye to a dear, dear friend.  If you’re a regular reader here, the name Grant McCune is not a new one to you, and with great sadness, Grant passed away on Monday December the 27th of Pancreatic Cancer which he was only diagnosed with 4 weeks prior to his passing.  For those of you who don’t know of Grant from a friend’s point of view, he was the chief model maker on a little film that came out in 1977 called “Star Wars” and his masterful craft won him an Oscar.  Grant was always a little embarrassed about that because it was really his first film in many ways, and being the humble man that he was, always felt funny about it.

Grant started in the business working with his good friend Bill Shourt on the Mechanical Shark from Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”.  Bill and Grant went from working under water to outer space when George Lucas was putting together a team of specialists to create the undiscovered country of major motion control VFX for his space epic “Star Wars”.  The Original Industrial Light and Magic VFX studio was a rented warehouse in Van Nuys, California, right next to the Van Nuys Airport.  Star Wars was a landmark film and opened the door to  a new world of VFX laden films incorporating Motion Control camera systems and technologies designed and created for Star Wars.  Lucas was signed on to do a sequel and he wanted to move his operation up to the Bay area which was George’s stomping grounds.  A call was made to see who wanted to follow to a new ILM to be situated in Marin County just north of San Francisco, and who was going to stay in Los Angelas.  John Dykstra and six others of the main group decided to stay in southern CA while the others moved on. John Dykstra, Bill Shourt, Grant McCune, Richard Alexander, Roger Dorney, Doug Smith and Bob Sheperd got their money together and formed a new company called “Apogee”.  Apogee retained the original building plus one directly next door to house all the new cameras, machine shop, creature shop, optical and animation department, model shop, and lots of stage and office space.  Their first project was the television pilot and series called “Battlestar Galactica”. Grant would head up the model shop, and crews of modelers would come and go as the projects came in.  Following Galactica came Star Trek (The Motion Picture), Caddyshack, Firefox and a host of other films and commercials.

I knew of Grant from the credits in Star Wars and from all the publications about the films VFX sequences.  After years of research I found an add for Apogee in a trade magazine for film and gave him a call.  We met in early 1984 and for the next year and a half I would frequently make the drive from Arizona to visit.  One hot summer Wednesday in July I stopped by again to say hi.  I was staying at my uncle’s house in Fullerton and doing some side work for him while I was on vacation from my job at the grocery store in Phoenix.  I told Grant in a joking way that I lived here now, and he said; you live in CALIFORNIA!!!  Why yes I do,,,,,  he then said, how do you like working outside….. in the heat???  I had just come from 120 degree Arizona heat to California which was barely 100 degrees so hot outside was NOT California, HAAA!  I said I love to work outside why?  What came next was the big phrase that I thought I would never hear….. Good! would you like start working here tomorrow, your job will be  brushing latex into a giant Dinosaur mold and he pointed outside to two half molds of a full sized T-Rex ! WOOOOOOOOOOO  Oh yes I would love to, and he said; OK then see ya tomorrow at 7:00, and how does $7.00 an hour sound… That sounds Awesome Grant, Thanks and I will see you tomorrow I said and off I went to get ready for the big day!!!!  What an unbelievable time! So on Thursday August 1st 1985 Grant McCune brought me into the world of VFX and one  young boy’s dreams came true.  I called my boss at Bayless markets and gave my two week notice over then phone and the sound of cheers rang out from everyone standing by the phone on the Arizona side of the line.

Grant was a great boss, and you couldn’t really call him that because he was more a friend than a boss.  Always quick with a joke and a laugh, he loved his job and he so gracefully shared all of what he knew with you.  Everybody loved Grant and also working at Apogee; it was a place that felt more like a house full of your favorite relatives than a job. There was really no division between the high end and the low end of the crew, and everyone there was incredibly talented and a joy to be around.  Grant was a music lover and was ever so fond of the Gypsy Kings, Linda Rondstant, Leon Redbone, Patsy Cline, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Every morning when he would get in, we would all be blessed by a shout from the door, DOES EVERYONE LOVE THEIR JOB, followed by one of his tunes.  Frech fries and breakfest burritos were next in a day of usual favorites.  “Invaders from Mars”, “Top Gun”, and “Spaceballs” were my first movies working with Grant and and through him I met some of my very best friends, Cory and Allen Faucher, Pete Gerrard, Glen Campbell, Bill and John Shourt,  Robert Beilmere, James Spencer, Pat Denver, David Dryer, Lisa Wise, Debbie Nicoles, Carolyn Diltz, Mike Yost, Greg Jein, Monty Shook, and way too many others to mention here.  As Hollywood goes, there would be times where the modelshop crew would float from Apogee to Boss Films, DreamQuest Images, Fantasy II, LA Effects group, and up north to ILM for other jobs, but we would all gladly come back to Grant and Apogee.

The CGI world started to become the way of the future in the early 90’s and by about 1994 (it was provide it or die), which made up the new Hollywood attitude and about this time all the major model shops where coming to an end.  Apogee’s final days were in 1995, and as the major VFX company closed it’s doors (literally over night), Grant retained his side of the company and formed his own VFX house under the new name of Grant McCune designs. Fifteen years later his company still stands and does various jobs for films and also in the capacity for specialty props and collectables.  Grant was a master photographer as well and he had a darkroom set up at work which he was turning into his daughter Lilly’s new darkroom over the last month or so.  Grant also had  a full shop at his house and he would commute back and forth between the two with goods and parts created for whatever the current project was.  There was nothing that he couldn’t do with his hands and imagination, and he so loved what he did!!!  Grant’s wife Kathy was the subject of many of his photo themes and she was always quick with a tip on nutrition.  Their children, son Cole and daughter Lilly were always around, and it was always a pleasure to see the McCune family in the shop.  Grant was an extremely generous, kind, and grateful man and was always there to talk to and lend some advice no matter what the subject was.  He was like a second father to me; he was my friend, my buddy, and a man I loved dearly.  He will be missed deeply and his passing came way to quickly and the reality of this is not setting in easily with all of us who knew him.  Life is oh so fragile so be sure to tell those around you that you love them often.  Kathy McCune and all the gang at GMD want to carry on with what Grant had started and happily his shop will be staying open. It will always be a landmark of where the true magic of working in the movies began for all of those that worked and visited there.

God bless you dear friend Grant, and love to Kathy, Cole, and Lilly.

Here are some pictures of Grant at work and, as soon as I can find all of mine, I’ll be sure to do an update.

Grant came to Scottsdale Arizona to do a talk on VFX and this was the cover story from our local paper. This still hangs in my office today.

on the set of Firefox, second in from left to right, Clint Eastwood, at the other end of the camera boom is John Dykstra and next to the firefox model is Grant

Grant dropping the blockade runner's escape pod thru the launch tube, from Star Wars

from Star Wars Grant works on the Imperial Star Destroyer

Star Wars, Grant assembling the blockade runner

Grant goofing around with an X-wing

this is from the 10th anniversary of Star Wars and a big reunion of all the VFX folks showed up at Apogee to celebrate, Grant's in the middle bottom row


leslie Nielsen, the passing of a hollywood legend

Leslie Nielson was one amazing talent. He covered every genre of  being an actor and with each style he took on, he did ever so masterfully, from sci-fi, to westerns, to dramas, and in his senior years, comedies. As a kid, there were three movies that I loved Leslie in and they were “Forbidden Planet”, “The Poseidon Adventure”, and the “Reluctant Astronaut”.  As time goes on, more and more of Hollywood’s great legends sadly are passing on, but not without leaving their incredible marks in film history. Leslie Nielsen is one of these Hollywood heroes and will be sadly missed.

from forbidden planet

Nielson and Francis, from Forbidden Planet

Nielson and Don Knotts from "The Reluctant Astronaut"

from "The Reluctant Astronaut"

a kiss godbye, "Forbidden Planet"


Irvin Kershner, saying goodbye to my friend

kersh n vader

2010 has been quite a year to say the least. In February, space artist Robert T. McCall passed away. we lost Dan OBannon, Today, Leslie Nielsen, and over the weekend we lost a legend & good friend Irvin Kershner.  Kersh, as he liked to be called, is most known for his directing of “The Empire Strikes Back”. He had been fighting a long battle with lung cancer and, sadly, on Saturday, November the 27th his fight came to an end, and Kershner passed away at his home in Coldwater Canyon, CA.

The Empire has always been my favorite of the Star Wars films, as well as being one of my all time favorite movies. It is a masterpiece on all levels and so towers over the rest of the films in terms of character development and edge of your seat drama and surprises. I have been a huge fan of Kersh’s work ever since. In 1977, I first heard his name in a 1976/77 film called  “the Eyes of Laura Mars” Kersh directed this eerie little tale and it was written by a virtual unknown at the time, Mr. John Carpenter. I started working in Hollywood in 1985 with a lot of inspiration from; Spielberg, Kershner, George Miller and George Lucas, and in 1992 I was hired as an artist on a new Steven Spielberg television series called “SeaQuest DSV”.  WOW I was so excited to finally be on a Spielberg production!!!!! After a few weeks of working on the show, we got word that Kershner was going to direct!!! DOUBLE DOG WOW!!! This was a dream come true – working with my two favorites on one show, Spielberg and Kershner!!! It was not too long after the news was heard that he came over to our office to meet everyone!!! Knowing what he looked like from pictures, we knew him immediately when he came in the door. He opened his mouth and said loudly “Hi everyone” and in all honesty I was thrown back that this towering man had a lot of Frank OZ and Yoda mixed into his voice. For a minute I thought he was goofing around but right away I realized that that was his real voice. How cool, and even more cool was how very gracious and kind he was to everyone. There was no level of superiority between himself and us in the art department. To Irvin, we were all a team and that was how it was. He was a Hollywood master without a Hollywood aura. Right away he jumped into all the drawings with great enthusiasm, and lots and lots of feedback on things. One day he was in talking to us all and the topic of the Empire Strikes Back came up, and after answering a million questions, he said that he would dig out his 35mm copy of Empire and we could all watch it at lunch one day!!! A few days later he had the film and we all headed down to the big Amblin screening room and the movie started. There was about 25 of us in there with Kersh in the middle. As the movie started, the color of the print drifted from full color to a rolling shade of pale blue. Kersh cussed up some good sailor terms and hollered out that the film can was stored on the sunny side of the garage!!! The film had some heat damage that disappeared after about 5 minutes so once clear on the screen he talked over the movie at points and filled in lots of behind the scenes details. You could hear in his tone that there were lots of grand memories filling his mind as he spoke and by the end you could tell that this film was very special to him. As  SeaQuest went on, we became friends and Kersh would bring things in to show me from some of his other films. One of the fun things I enjoyed was to watch him direct. What an animated man…I would think that from an actor’s point of view, he would be a favorite to work with. He would become the character and inspire the dialog in a collaboration with the actors as they were developing the personalities of who they were playing. Once the pilot was finished, it was editing time and Kersh was not allowed to be a part of it due to studio intervention. I remember talking to him on the phone and he was so upset that he could not finish what he had begun. The pilot aired shortly after and all that he had done on stage was not evident in the final show!!! Very sad to have wasted his talent by not letting him see the production through.

Although SeaQuest was over and Kersh was gone, we continued to chat and he called me one day and he said “I have two words for you”. Really! I said, What could they be. He said “Forbidden Planet, do you want to work on this one with me”??? WOW!!! I could not wait. So the next step was to meet up at Stan Winston’s studio and after the meeting we all started to work out the details of a little rough draft of the remake. Stan and his gang was awesome! I was a fan of everyone there and to be in the same room with Kersh, Stan, Crash McCreary, Shane Mahan, and John Rosengandt was just too much to take. The film went no where as time went on and thank goodness because the script was awful and would have been a travesty no matter who was working on it!! Once this one was all fizzled out, that was about the end of Kersh’s directing career. We stayed in touch and either talked on the phone or had visits whenever we could. Every once in a while he would have a request or two that were always fun to comply with. Once he called and said, “Hey, your an old model maker. Would you fix my Kane robot from Robocop II.” Phil Tippet had given Kersh the stop motion puppet from the film and he was so worn out and so very heavy that just a few weeks time would cause the puppet to slump over. A quick rod attached to the base and some thin wire fixed the problem and Kane was standing again! We talked a few months ago about the 30th anniversary of Empire and with great sadness the last time we ever spoke. Kersh was a a man I had a lot of respect for…such a kind and caring man, with some amazing talents in so many genres of art, photography and movie making rolled in, too. I will miss you my friend and thanks for all the inspirations and fun memories. Below and after the pictures is a bio and a link about Kersh, lots of fascinating things to read about here.

Kersh n Yoda

Art and photography were the dual launch pads for director Irvin Kershner’s career. He studied both at length as well as tackling documentaries in the 1950’s, before making his feature film debut with “Stakeout on Dope Street” (1958) – a gritty crime drama produced by Roger Corman. It led to various jobs on television series and in other independent features. Kershner’s film work was distinguished by his ability to show realistic and intimate human drama in his stories, and for finding unusual aspects on nearly every genre – from comedies like “A Fine Madness” (1966) and romantic dramas such as “Loving” (1970), to horror flicks like “The Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978) and historical adventures in the ilk of as “The Return of a Man Called Horse” (1976). His biggest box office hit was the “Star Wars” sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), which benefited hugely from his mature direction. Kershner also maintained alternate careers as a producer, educator and some-time actor, but it was his work creating the darkest and most critically acclaimed of the “Star Wars” trilogy that would be his greatest and longest living legacy.

Born in 1923, Kershner’s education was rich in the arts. He studied music at a young age before joining the Air Force as a flight engineer on B-24 bombers during World War II. When he returned to civilian life, he studied art and design at the Tyler School of Fine Arts, part of Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. He also studied art under Hans Hoffman, an artist in New York City. In 1948 at age 25 he moved to Los Angeles to study photography and design at the Art Center College of Design and UCLA while paying the bills working as a commercial artist. Kershner later studied film at USC’s School of Cinema, where he also taught photography. While there, he took on a job as a still photographer with a State Department Film Crew in Iran, which led to him directing documentaries on the Middle East and Europe for the US Information Service in 1950. From 1953 to 1955, he developed, directed and acted as cameraman on a documentary series for TV called “Confidential File,” which recreated events in the news. Irvin Kershner’s first feature film was a low-budget crime drama called “Stakeout on Dope Street” featuring a script by veteran writer Andrew J. Fenady and a young cast culled from Roger Corman’s talent pool. Praised for its realistic direction, Kershner was able to direct two more well-received urban crime dramas on the back of this one – “The Young Captives” (1959) and “Hoodlum Priest” (1961), with Don Murray as Father Charles Clark, a preacher to inner city street gangs. Murray was nominated for two awards at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

Kershner moved to TV series in the early sixties before directing “Face in the Rain” (1963) starring Rory Calhoun and “The Luck of Ginger Coffey” (1964) with Robert Shaw, the direction of which was widely praised by the arthouse press. Kershner then moved on to “A Fine Madness” (1966) – a wry comedy starring Sean Connery while he was at the height of his popularity as James Bond. Connery plays a poet who visits a string of unconventional psychiatrists seeking a cure for his mental block. “Madness” developed a cult following and, along with its successor “The Flim-Flam Man” (1967) starring George C Scott, cemented Kershner’s genre as a director. The 1970 flm “Loving” starring George Segal earned Kershner his best reviews and ticket sales to date and ushered Kershner into the Hollywood fold. Unfortunately his first big budget movie “Up the Sandbox” (1972) was poorly received by critics and box office alike, as was the 1974 film “S*P*Y*S”, a reunion of “M*A*S*H” (1970) stars Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould in a dark comedy about espionage. While this was happening, Kershner did the development work for the gritty Western drama “A Man Called Horse” (1970), but was removed from the project before completion and not credited for his contributions to the screenplay. He did however direct the 1976 sequel, “Return of a Man Called Horse,” which again starred Richard Harris in the title role. The gruesome sequel re-enacted the purification ritual of the original “Horse” where Harris hangs from the ceiling of a sweat lodge by hookspiercing his chest.

Kershner experienced further success with “Raid on Entebbe” (1977) starring Charles Bronson, James Woods and Peter Finch which netted a Golden Globe and an Emmy for its technical aspects. A further nine nominations were given to its cast and production team, including one for Irvin Kershner himself. He followed this in 1978 with “The Eyes of Laura Mars” starring Faye Dunaway, which was a modest box office hit. George Lucas saw the film and contacted Kershner about directing the follow-up to his classic “Star Wars” (1977). Kershner felt “Star Wars” was too big a hit for him to want to take on a sequel, but bowed to the pressure fro his former student Lucas and took on “The Empire Strikes Back.” The rest, as they say, is history – “Empire” became the highest grossing film of 1980 and one of the top 50 money earners of all time. It was on the set of “Empire” that Irvin Kershner received the monica “Kersh”, which was to accompany him through the remainder of his career.

Kersh re-united with Sean Connery for the 1983 James Bond film “Never Say Never Again” and then went on to another sequel – “RoboCop 2” (1990). He later returned to television, directing the pilot episode of the NBC action-adventure series “seaQuest DSV” – productino of which then ran from 1993 to 96 and still airs today. That pretty much wound up the directorial career of Irvin Kershner, although he always found time to represent “Empire” whenever “Star Wars” retrospectives occurred, including watching as Lucasfilm added CGI effects to his classic production to create “The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition” (1997). It was a testament to Kershner’s quality that “Empire” was the least retouched of the original trilogy. In  the late 90’s Kersh kept himself active as an executive producer on several independent films. He also worked on various photography projects, and lectured at various colleges and festivals including his beloved USC, where he served on the faculty for the Master of Professional Writing program.


Happy Birthday to You!!! Leave a birthday wish for John

Yes, it is our host, Mr. John Eaves’ birthday today, so let’s celebrate in style.  Put on your best party attire and sit at your computer and join in the fun.

Over the hill jokes are not only welcome but encouraged.  Presents are not necessary, but it would be okay if you donate a few bucks to the charity of your choice….well, that’s okay birthday or no birthday.  😀

I’ll start us off with a joke

“You know your getting old when…

you know you can trust your friends with your secrets because they can’t remember them either” *bada bing*

I’m sure some of you can do better, but you can’t mock me unless you at least try.

No, seriously folks.  🙂

John started this blog over a year ago and has shared much of himself with his readers and put a lot of effort into bringing unique personal insights of Star Trek, sci fi art, movies and amazing people to our attention, making friends along the way.  Here’s thanks for the last year and wishes for many good posting years to come.



PS. I’ll leave the header up for the weekend so the party can go on.  😀


robert mccall, saying goodbye to a good friend

Robert T. McCall

I just got word of Robert McCall’s passing yesterday and am so very sad to hear this news…I had been working on a special about Bob for the blog here and am sad I didn’t get it finished in time for him to see.  Mr. McCall was 90 years old and painting away when he passed away last Friday, February 26th, 2010.  Many of you know of  Robert McCall, or if you don’t, I am sure you have at least seen his work.  He was a legendary artist, and his work has covered a multitude of subject matters.  At heart he was an astronaut, a pilot, and mostly a dreamer, with pencil and paintbrush as his means to take you to places far beyond the bounds of Earth.  He was a visionary genius who’s strokes on the canvas took us to places where no man had gone before!!  With his feet firmly planted on the ground, his imagination new nothing of shoes for his visions, always looking towards the heavens.

Bob’s work covered the world of aviation, from the big propeller driven planes to the supersonic hyper jets…from present day to historical space exploration and well into the future.  He re-landscaped the state of Arizona in many futuristic styles with incredible imagination…He created some of the most beautiful stained glass windows for many of the churches around Phoenix; he also created massive murals for the Smithsonian, Edwards AFB and beyond.  He created some of the most memorable art and designs for many motion pictures including the world of Star Trek.  He created many mission patches, as well as stamps for the US post office.  Mr. McCall’s work has no bounds, and he has done something for just about everything.  He was a true gentleman at heart with an endless imagination.  He was a loving husband and father, and he was a friend to everyone.  To me, he was my first artistic hero and for the last 13 years or so had become a very good friend.

As a young boy growing up in Arizona in the 60’s, I was captivated by aviation and especially by all the Gemini and Apollo missions taking us to the moon!!!  My whole world revolved around these things, and in early 1973 my mom had found a painting of a new NASA project called Skylab.  The painting was by an artist named Robert McCall, and I was glued to that picture for weeks!!!  I would try and draw it myself using Bob’s painting as a guide.  That little painting hung on my wall right next to my Apollo 17 mission patch that was also drawn by McCall.  My parents subscribed to “Arizona Highways” magazine, and it showcased everything beautiful about Arizona and it’s people in pictures.  I remember getting the mail in August of 1975 and the new AZ Highways was in amongst the other letters; on the cover was this beautiful wrap around painting of a Chromed city situated in the AZ desert.  Wow, I thought, “This is really cool.”  Looking through the pages, it was filled with fantastic art depicting solar cities and fantastic craft floating around the state.  The back of the mag was covered with some incredible space craft paintings and even the Apollo Soyuz stamps that McCall had drawn.  I looked at these drawings for months with such fascination.  Again, I had my tablet out and tried to draw these incredible things that graced the many pages that lie in front of me.  I took the mag to school and showed it to everyone I knew.  I showed my science teacher, Mr. Chuck Bell, and he became one of the most influential teachers in pushing me to become an artist.  Always with an encouraging word and giving me extra art assignments using McCall as my guide, he would take the finished art and showcase it on the wall behind his desk.  Outside of my parents, Mr. Bell was the first adult that took that that little extra time to encourage me on my way.  He is a great man and I owe him a great amount of thanks.

About this same time I got my first turntable and my dad bought me the soundtrack of the movie Jaws and the movie 2001.  Holy cow, the art on the 2001 album was by McCall, and again I couldn’t put the jacket down.  Far more detailed than what I had seen of his work in earlier years, the details were mesmerizing, and the way he used the lighting and the thick heavy shadows was awesome.  What I thought was so creative with his 2001 work was that he only showed you part of the ships.  Most of the craft would be off the canvas, thus making things seem far too massive to fit all on one page.  His work was magical, and he depicted weight and mass combined with light in shadow with such grace and elegance.  The “Arizona Highways” mag had got me drawing everything in McCall style.

A few years later, Star Wars & Close Encounters came out and started the big theatrical run of everything Sci Fi.  During that fantastic movie run, one of the big anticipated films to come was Star Trek:  The Motion Picture.  “Starlogmagazine was the big source of sci-fi info back in the 70’s, and when ever possible they would show what ever they could of what was coming next.  It would usually be some artwork or a teaser picture, but for Trek they showed some of McCall’s production paintings for the flying through Vger segment.  WOW!!!  Bob’s work is a part of STAR TREK!!!  I wanted to see it even more just because of his involvement.  After seeing the film and now 30 years later that sequence is still one of my favorite parts of the film.  All of Bob’s creative imagery combined with that incredible Jerry Goldsmith score made for one amazing moment in motion picture history!!!  Just a few short weeks after Star Trek was released, Bob’s work would be seen again, but this time as the principle designer for Walt Disney’s The Black Hole. Mr. McCall designed the Cygnus for the film which, in his original designs, was a ship composed of solid panels and high towers.  As the film’s designs progressed, Bob’s profile of the ship stayed the same, but the outer look turned into a series of beautiful and intricate framing and piped under-structures.  For the look of the filming miniature, the vessel was lit from within and gave it a very haunting look and feel against the deep space backgrounds.  The Cygnus was one awesome ship and is one that adds to a very vast body of work for McCall.

Time rolls on and Arizona Highways & Starlog keep Bob’s work and what his projects are up to date.  Moving away from the film industry he continued on with his space work for NASA and many museums and AFB’s around the country.  In the 90’s a great many art books are published on Bob’s work.  Thanks to Mr. McCall’s influence and inspiration, I was at that time celebrating my 10th anniversary of working in the movies as an artist.  It’s 1995 and I had had Robert McCall’s phone number for years but was too nervous to call.  All of the gang in the Star Trek art department were fellow fans of McCall, the Okudas, Jim Van Over, Anthony Fredrickson, and especially Doug Drexler.  It was Christmas break from Star Trek, and I was on my way home to see my parents.  One fine December day I worked up the courage to call, and he answered the phone.  What an awesome moment!!!  After a brief conversation, he invited me over to his place!!!  I had just finished the preliminary designs for the Enterprise-E and had made a copy of it, as well as a bunch of other artwork, as a gift of thanks.  Bob’s house was nestled in the hills of Scottsdale, and he and his wife, Louise, met me at the door.  Louise is an artist as well, and flowers are her forte.  She has such a beautiful style to her work, and she makes prints and cards of her creations.  Bob’s art room was a big open area with big flat cabinets holding generations of work, as well as many big pieces hanging around the room.  The first piece to catch my eye was a painting of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  It was a huge painting, and Bob went on to say it was one of 8 paintings he did for the movie Tora, Tora, Tora. I had no idea that he had worked on that classic motion picture.  We had a great afternoon, and Bob and Louise were extremely gracious; It seemed like we we had been friends for years.  Bob signed three of his books for me, as well as a print from Star Trek, and Louise gave me a pack of her flower prints.  It’s not every day you get to meet someone you admire, and in the movie industry disappointment is usually what follows, but as for meeting the McCalls, it was the start of a great friendship.  We kept in touch throughout the years and would visit often when I was in town.  Robert’s daughter runs his website and does one mighty fine job, so be sure to follow the link below and spend some time looking and reading all of the incredible stuff there.

We  will miss you dearly Robert…and to Louise and your kids and your grandkids, I send my very best and prayers as well.

below are some of  Mr. McCall’s beautiful paintings…

from 2001

another from 2001


the Cygnus

Apollo 8 introduction to the art of Robert McCall

full spread of the August 1975 Arizona Highways magazine

one of Bob's paintings from the Aug 75 AZ Highways

Bob in his studio

cover art for "Our World in Space"

Bob's note written in "Our world from Space"

cover art

a note from Bob in "The Art of Robert McCall"

and a final note from my friend

cover art

Thank you, my friend, for all you have done.


John Wayne, an American hero

Howdy all and thanks for all the great portfolios and interest in Andy’s computer game.  There are some amazingly talented folks out there, and I loved looking at all the awesome art and CG models.  I’m finishing my calender piece for Drexler today for his new ST, SOTL Calender and am finally getting to the final details

While listening to the internet radio “Live 365, Atomic City” often plays patriotic pieces recorded by John Wayne…Today was no exception and encouraged me to see if any of these pieces were made into videos via YouTube, and sure enough, there were a few of them to see.

Getting back to John Wayne, he was and is a true American hero, and he was a symbol of what Patriotic America was founded on…Truth, Love, Justice and Freedom.  He always remembered the everyday man and woman with respect, as well as our ArmedForces, to whom he gave great reverence.  So, in thinking of Mr Wayne today and all that he believed in, here are some videos to encourage your day, enjoy!!

June 2023