R.I.P. Doug Grindstaff, designer of Star Trek's iconic sound effects

By: H&I Staff     Posted: August 1, 2018, 1:04PM

Take away the images — strip out the dialogue, even — and you could recognize Star Trek from its sounds alone. The ambient pings, beeps, alarms, whirrs and whooshes of the Enterprise helped make the future seem so real. Much of that sound was the work of Doug Grindstaff, who along with Jack Finlay and Joseph Sorokin, created the background noise heard on Star Trek: The Original Series.

Grindstaff recorded his squeaking tennis shoes to craft the sound of the automatic doors on the U.S.S. Enterprise. He designed the beeps of the communicators, the trilling medical scanners and the dove-like cooing of the Tribbles. For that work, he was nominated for an Emmy in Individual Achievements in Film and Sound Editing in 1967. He would go on to win five Emmy trophies, for his work on shows such as Police Story and Max Headroom.

Grindstaff's sound work can also be heard on the series Mannix, The Odd Couple and The Brady Bunch. He would go on to become the president of the Motion Picture Sound Editors, an organization that granted him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Only July 23, Grindstaff passed away at the age of 87, according to a report released by his family to The Hollywood Reporter.

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