Haverhill to Honor Livingston, Who Wrote Scripts for ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture,’ Many TV Shows

Harold Livingston.(Courtesy of the Haverhill Public Library, Special Collections Department.)

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Harold Livingston, Hollywood screenwriter and novelist best known for writing the script for the 1979 “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” is set to be inducted next week into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame.

Livingston was assisted by the creator of the original television series, Gene Rodenberry, and sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster, earning them a nomination for the 1980 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The movie starred the cast of the cult classic TV series, including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and spawned a franchise of sequels and spinoffs.

A ceremony takes place Saturday, April 13, 2 p.m., at Haverhill Public Library’s Johnson Auditorium, 99 Main St. There is no admission charge.

He was born in Haverhill Sept. 4, 1924 to Dr. Myron and Betty (Siegel) Livingston. His father was a prominent surgeon and Haverhill city physician. He grew up in his parents’ historic downtown home, on the corner of the former Vestry and Main Streets, directly across from the old City Hall. During the urban renewal period of the 1960s, his father fought a valiant but losing battle to save his house. A mulberry tree in front of the home was saved by firefighter and later City Councilor Frederick M. Moriarty, who transplanted the tree at the then-new Bradford Fire Station.

Livingston graduated from Haverhill High School in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Nov. 13, 1942. He was initially at Camp Devens and wanted to become a pilot, so he was sent to Scott Field, Ill. He was color-blind, a disqualifying factor for prospective pilots, but with the connivance of his father and his father’s ophthalmologist friend, he memorized the answers for the most widely used test for color blindness. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what was used the day he was tested.

Although he couldn’t be a pilot, the Army Air Corps trained him in radio operations. A week or so after D-Day, he landed in Normandy, and later was sent to newly liberated Paris to set up communications before the main body of U.S. troops arrived. In a 2018 interview, the 94-year-old Livingston spoke humorously of the advantages of being one of the first half-dozen GIs in Paris, armed with a carton of Lucky Strikes. Livingston was awarded two Battle Stars for Normandy and Northern France action but received no official recognition for his Paris action.

Upon his discharge as a tech sergeant near the end of 1945, he worked for an advertising agency in Lawrence and Boston before taking a position with Trans World Airlines to set up communications for their routes in the middle east. He was based in Cairo, but worked mainly in Saudi Arabia. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. Later, he attended Brandeis University in Waltham, graduating in 1955.

His first novel “The Coasts of the Earth,” for which he received a Houghton-Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, was published in 1954.

Livingston married Lois Leavitt Aug 31, 1958 in New Hempstead, N.Y. Also that year, he wrote his second novel, “The Detroiters” and a science fiction novel “The Climacticon” followed in 1960. He decided to move to Hollywood and become a screenwriter, producing scripts for many of the iconic television shows of the 60s, 70s and 80s, including “Mission: Impossible,” “Six Million Dollar Man,” “Fantasy Island,” “Mannix,” “Banacek,” “Future Cop” and Fantastic Journey.”

Other works of the latter part of Livingston’s career include the novels “Ride a Tiger” (1987), “Touch the Sky” (1991) and “To Die in Babylon” (1993). He published his wartime memoir “No Trophy, No Sword” in 1994.

Livingston is featured in Nancy Spielberg’s acclaimed 2015 documentary on the post-World War II era, “Above and Beyond.” Nancy is the sister of well-known filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Livingston died in Westlake Village north of Los Angeles on April 28, 2022 at the age of 97. His survivors include his daughters Leah Hopkins and Eve Livingston; son David; granddaughters Elizabeth and Ariel; and his nephew, Robert Livingston.

The Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame, established in 1985 at the Haverhill Public Library, honors Haverhill residents who achieved fame in their lifetime and brought recognition to the city. To be considered for membership, a candidate must have had a substantive Haverhill connection, a significant impact beyond Haverhill’s borders and, to allow for the assessment of time, must be deceased.

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