Star Trek's man in the monster suit made fascinating behind-the-scene movies
The stand-in for Bones, Billy Blackburn captured great footage on his 8mm.
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Billy Blackburn had been a fixture at the Desilu studios for years. Having first worked as Ray Walston's assistant and stand-in on My Favorite Martian, Blackburn became a fixture on Star Trek set. In addition to serving as a stand-in for DeForest Kelley, he also portrayed Lt. Hadley. The actor also worked behind the camera, closely alongside costumer William Ware Theiss as his assistant.
The production team put Blackburn into almost every alien character that inhabited the Trek universe of the day, from the White Rabbit to the Gorn. Billy was up for anything they threw his way. He became a favorite of the crew for his hard-working, let-me-at-it commitment to the show.
Blackburn was also a world-class ice skater, working on the Ice Capades shows. In fact, that White Rabbit suit he was sporting in the classic, kooky Star Trek episode "Shore Leave"? It was borrowed from the iconic ice show, thanks to Billy.
That was not the only gift Blackburn presented to the Star Trek universe. With an 8mm camera in hand on set, Blackburn documented a rare glimpse behind the scenes in his home movies. This footage was shown at the final cast and crew Christmas party hosted by Gene Roddenberry. In the decades since, the film was kept in a safe-deposit box, rarely seen. A keen-eyed researcher found this footage still existed. The 8mm and Super-8 footage was cut into a special, Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories, and bundled with the HD DVD collection of The Original Series.
Run out and grab a set if you haven't see it.
An uncredited Blackburn can also be found in several episodes of The Twilight Zone such as "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" and "Shadow Play," as well as dancing with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock. Later in his career, he reunited with William Shatner on the '80s cop series T.J. Hooker, for which he served as a costume supervisor. Take a look at some of Blackburn's "Rare Home Movies."