If you’re a fan of Star Trek: The Orginal Series then you know the unique and memorable sounds that came from the show. Those iconic sounds were created by Doug Grindstaff. His family announced his passing on July 23rd in Peoria, Arizona.
Doug Grindstaff was a five-time Emmy Award winner whose career spanned decades.
He created the Tribble Coos by manipulating the sounds of a dove. He also created the communicator beeps and many others that enriched the audio aesthetics of the original series. Doug worked with both Jack Finlay and Joseph Sorokin on Trek as they created sounds like “red alert” and the sounds the doors made when they were opened aboard the starships.
After Star Trek, Doug Grindstaff worked as vice president at Lorimar-Telepictures. In that position, he headed the sound departments of studios such as Columbia, Paramount, and Pacific Sound. He was also president of the Motion Picture Sound Editors, which in 1998 honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Doug was also a member of the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Star Trek wasn’t the only memorable show Doug worked one. He was a Supervising Sound Editor on Mission: Impossible, The Odd Couple, The Brady Bunch
In his five-plus decades in the industry, Doug Grindstaff’s touch went beyond Star Trek. He was a Supervising Sound Editor on Mission: Impossible, The Odd Couple, The Brady Bunch, Falcon Crest, Dallas, and Starship Antyllus to name a few. All in all, Doug was nominated for 14 Emmys with one nomination for Star Trek in 1967. He won an Emmy in 1970 for his work on The Immortal. His success would continue with Emmy wins in 1976 for Medical Story, in 1978 for Police Story, in 1980 for Power, and in 1987 for Max Headroom.
Two years ago in an interview for Audible Range blog, Doug talked about the style of using sounds that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wanted. He described that Gene Rodenberry “wanted to paint the whole show (with sound) like you were painting a picture.”
“And he wanted sounds everywhere. One time I asked him, ‘Don’t you think we’re getting too cartoony?’ Because I felt it should be a little more dignified, but he wanted sound for everything. For example, I worked on one scene where [Dr. McCoy] is giving someone a shot. Gene says, ‘Doug, I’m missing one thing. The doctor injects him and I don’t hear the shot.’ I said, ‘You wouldn’t hear a shot, Gene.’ He said, ‘No, no, this is Star Trek, we want a sound for it.’
“So I turned around to the mixing panel and said, ‘Do you guys have an air compressor?’ And they did. I fired up the air compressor, squirted it for a long enough period by the mic, went upstairs, played with it a little bit and then put it in the show. And Gene loved it. So, that’s how Gene was. He didn’t miss nothing!”
Take a listen to some of the sounds Doug was instrumental in creating for Star Trek: The Original Series:
Doug Grindstaff is survived by his wife Marcia; children Marla, Chuck, Dan, Dean, Felicia, and Eli. And also 16 grandchildren as well as 13 great-grandchildren.