William Ware Theiss

Bill Theiss was amazing. He was nominated for the costume design Oscar three times:

  1. Butch and Sundance, the Early Years
    Heart Like A Wheel

    Bound For Glory

He also was nominated, and won the Best Costume Design Emmy for his work on "The Next Generation" episode, "The Big Goodbye"

There were many other examples of his genius in the Art of Costume Design, but his ability to create something out of nothing was never as evident as it was on the Original Star Trek.

There is a persistant rumor in Star Trek Fandom that every time Gene Roddenberry wanted to get a story or line of dialogue past the charming censors (Broadcast Standards) at NBC he would call on Trek's inventive costume designer. The truth is, Bill had a talent for pushing the envelope. Getting the censors to go ballistic tickled him and by the time the censor had panicked over Theiss' exposure of a curve of the underside of a breast... the line snuck through. Much to the delight of the fans.

Remember, this was 1964-the original pilot, through 1969.  Where no man had gone before, indeed.  Bill's outfits used glorious materials, angled seams and wide open spaces that had never been seen on TV before.  For the second pilot, Roddenberry wanted short skirts.  The mini was hot stuff. Theiss shortened them and showed bare backs.  Actually, bare places that never had been bare or interesting before were on display.

Bill sketched on napkins, menus and sometimes even in sketch books.  He tracked down elegant materials and used things for costumes that no one else would ever have thought about.

Some of the outfits were absolutely amazing. The materials varied from red foam placemats (the armor in "Elan of Troyas") to the elegant black netting used for the sensor web on Miranda in "Is there no Truth in Beauty?" We met when I arrived in LA on business for an early Star Trek Con and Bill helped me find my way around the incredible fabric stores in the garment district.

Here, in no particular order are some of my personal favorites. Trek (TOS) was memorable for many things, the cast, writing and set design were all remarkable, not to mention the things they did using only lighting, but the costumes were wonderful and deserve the acclaim that Bill finally got with his Emmy for the The Next Generation episode, "The Big Good-bye".

Just for fun, how many of them do you recognize?


"I Mudd"


"The Empath"

Kathy Hays

"Plato's Stepchildren

"Wolf in the Fold"

"Mudd's Women"



"The Cloudminders"

Journey to Babel

Journey to Babel"


Is There in Truth No Beauty

"Is There in Truth, No Beauty?"

"Who Morns for Adonois?"


"That Which Survives"

"Elan of Troyos"

"Elan of Troyos"

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