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D.C. Fontana, Star Trek writer who helped bring Spock to life, dies at 80

The legendary writer left an indelible mark on the Star Trek universe and helped blaze a trail for women in sci-fi.

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D.C. Fontana wrote the animated series episode Yesteryear, an exploration of Spock's childhood.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Writer and story editor Dorothy Catherine "D.C." Fontana died at the age of 80 on Monday after a brief illness. Fontana made key contributions to the Star Trek universe through her work on the original series, Star Trek: The Animated Series and other Star Trek properties.

The official Twitter account for Roddenberry Entertainment, a production company related to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, confirmed the news

Fontana's use of her initials effectively kept her gender veiled for many years, but she has been recognized as a pioneer in television writing. Besides Star Trek, she also worked on a variety of Western shows, The Six Million Dollar Man and Babylon 5.

"I knew Dorothy. She was very kind to me. What a grand woman and a good soul. What a life. What a beacon to other TV writers of all stripes. This is devastating," TV writer Jane Espenson said on Twitter.

Fontana wrote Yesteryear, a 1973 episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, that established details of Spock's childhood. 

When asked what she considered to be her greatest contribution to Star Trek, Fontana told StarTrek.com, "Primarily the development of Spock as a character and Vulcan as a history/background/culture from which he sprang."

Correction, 4:50 p.m. PT: An earlier version of this story attributed a statement about Fontana to the AFI. An AFI spokesperson said, "AFI did not issue an official press release regarding D.C. Fontana. Someone has apparently used our name without our permission."