Robert S. Sallin
From Brookline To Hollywood

Robert S. Sallin

From the Stage at Brookline Elementary School
to the Sound Stages of Paramount Pictures

The journey begins ...

Robert S. Sallin
Six-year-old Robert (wearing goggles) with his parents,
Anne and Phillip Sallin, and his brother, Edward.
Dawson Street, Pittsburgh - 1937.

Robert S. Sallin, a 1945 graduate of Brookline Elementary School, always had a flair for writing, acting and directing. During his elementary school days, when World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, Robert wrote scripts and produced mini-plays to help stimulate the war bond effort. By age 14 he was the youngest member of the American Federation of Radio Artists. His success in the entertainment industry had only just begun.

Bob and his family moved from 617 Bellaire Avenue in Brookline to Los Angeles, California two years later. He earned a degree in cinema from UCLA in 1953 and embarked upon careers in the advertising, entertainment and motion picture industries. In 1982, he produced the now legendary motion picture "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan."

The following are excerpts from a Pittsburgh Press article written by Ed Blank, Drama Editor, in June of 1982:

Within a month we should soon know how soon we might expect a third "Star Trek" movie.

A Paramount executive says the great success of the current "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan" ($50 million in 24 days) assures at least one more big-screen episode.

"Star Trek III" could be along as early as December, 1983, the exec adds.

Former Pittsburgher Robert Sallin, who produced "II," hopes both predictions for "III" are correct. With Leonard Nimoy as Spock? Some time before the release of "II," the actor had been quoted as saying he'd had enough.

"Nimoy has told me he'd be interested in doing another," Sallin says. In fact, he and Bill Shatner called me and said that making "II" was the happiest experience they'd had. Nimoy did say he was willing."

But what, about the somewhat ambiguous ending of "II," which, without being spoiled here, involves a kind of death?

"Well-l-l, there are many forms of life and death in science fiction," Sallin says, putting Trekkies at ease.

Lead time, figuring backwards from a proposed release date, is about 15 months for a movie involving lots of special effects.

"There are between 150-200 shots of special effects in 'Star Trek II'," Sallin says. "I designed those sequences three times. The art director drew every element in every shot, but we had to keep redoing them because there were so many drafts of the script."

Different drafts? Including different endings?

"No, we shot the ending we'd always planned on, but after previews at the studio and sneak previews in New York and Kansas City, we editorially rearranged elements."

"One of the things we did was shorten the sequence on the bridge at the end and add Bill Shatner's voiceover."

Sallin's involvement with such a hit is a fitting career peak for someone whose show biz itch started early.

Sallin, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Sandra and their children, Susannah, 13, and Matthew, 9, keeps in touch with his native Pittsburgh through two aunts who still live here.

He was born in Oakland and lived in Dormont and Brookline as a youngster.

"I had a dramatics class taught by Miss Webster at Brookline School. She nurtured or kindled whatever there was in me to write, act and direct."

By 14 he was a regular on the locally broadcast "Junior American Red Cross on the Air" and the youngest member of the American Federation of Radio Artists here.

When "U.S. Steel Hour: Theatre Guild on the Air" broadcasts occasionally originated in Pittsburgh because of the corporate headquarters being here, Sallin got to perform with stars such as Basil Rathbone and Dorothy McGuire.

He was halfway through South Hills High School when his family moved to Los Angeles.

After graduating from UCLA's film school in 1953 and traveling throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East directing films for three years as a U.S. Air Force officer, he moved into the production of commercials, eventually heading his own Kaleidoscope Productions.

"I kept trying to expand into a longer form of production," he says. "but that was tough to do while I was running Kaleidoscope. Then the chance to produce Star Trek came along and I was out the door."

The cast and crew of Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan.
Robert Sallin is sitting next to Ricardo Montalbaum
(Khan), right of center in the front row - 1982.
The cast and crew of the 1982 feature film "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan."
Robert Sallin is seated next to Ricardo Montalbán in the front row.

The Star Trek Saga Continues

As for the Star Trek motion picture franchise, it has continued to this day, exploring strange new worlds and the seemingly endless realm of cimematic possibilities. Although Sallin's enlistment with Starfleet ended in 1982, the excitement created by that second film put the franchise into warp drive. In the summer of 2012, Trekkies can expect the release of the 12th Star Trek feature film.

Although his creative and production contributions and achievements to Star Trek are too numerous to mention here, Robert Sallin is possibly most proud of one: the concept of the “Ceti Eel”, the nasty slug-like creature which Khan used to extract information from, and to gain control over, Checkov and others. To this day, he relishes watching people cringe and turn away when this wee beastie enters an actor’s ear. It’s exactly the reaction he had hoped for!

One of the original Ceti Eels from
the movie production. It rests
in the office of Robert S. Sallin.

<Read Interview of Robert Sallin in Star Trek-The Magazine, September 2002>

From the School Auditorium to the Big Screen

Robert S. Sallin (left)
and Burt Carlisle (right), as
the characters Kink and Spy
in a 1943 school musical.

Robert Stanley Sallin had a knack for the stage early on. In 1943 he and classmate Burt Carlisle (pictured above right) prepare for a school musical. Robert played "Kink" and Burt was his main "Spy."

While Bob's stage presence was blossoming, his artistic talents were also gaining notice. Under the guidance of his art teacher Miss Winans, he created a poster for the annual Western Pennsylvania Humane Society show which was displayed at Boggs and Buhl department store. The competition included entries from all over the city school system and was open to the public. Bob's effort, promoting safety for birds, won the award for most popular entry. He was granted membership to the American Band of Mercy Humane Club.

Certificate of Merit awarded to Robert S. Sallin
by the American Band of Mercy Humane Club.    Certificate - Outstanding Graduating Student
awarded to Robert S. Sallin -  June 1945.

In June 1945, Bob received the American Legion Certificate of School Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student in his final year at Brookline Elementary. His drama teacher, Miss Jessie Webster Gress, was aware of Sallin's talents right from the start. "As a child, his extraordinary potential was recognized very early so I am not surprised at his meteoric success."

The years of tutelage by Miss Webster Gress were the foundation of Sallin's multi-faceted career. Prior to producing "Star Trek- The Wrath of Khan," he was engaged in directing other media. With his own company he directed nearly 2000 television commercials for major national and international clients and has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1966. Bob has been the recipient of over fifty top awards in global television advertising competitions, including the CLIO for the Most Humorous Commercial of the Year, and the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival for the outstanding commercial worldwide.

Bob Sallin and Jack Lemmon.    Bob Sallin and Rodney Dangerfield
Among the many stars Bob directed in commercials were Jack Lemmon and Rodney Dangerfield.

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy    Bob Sallin and Larry Hagman
Bob worked with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy (left) and Larry Hagman.

Bob directed other stars and stars-to-be including Bill Cosby, Farrah Fawcett, Carrol O’Connor, Joan Rivers, James Mason, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, and a very young Tom Selleck, Teri Garr, Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall all in one commercial!

<View a commercial directed by Robert Sallin, introducing Tom Selleck>

Bob was asked by Bill Cosby's production company to replace the director of the Warner Brothers' feature "Picasso Summer," with Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux. He re-shot most of the film, completed it and was awarded sole directorial credit. Bob also directed a number of television shows including the long-running NBC series, “Riptide.”

Yvette Mimieux, Albert Finney and director, Robert Sallin    Yvette Mimieux and Robert Sallin
The film "Picasso Summer" was shot on the French Riviera in and around Nice, Cannes and Monaco.
Shown above are Yvette Mimieux, Albert Finney and director, Robert Sallin.

Sallin meets with movie mogul, Jack Warner at a
private party to discuss one of Bob’s film concepts.    Bob directed Academy Award winner,
Cliff Robertson and Carol Burnett in
a stage production of 'Love Letters.'
Keeping active in several areas simultaneously, Robert Sallin met with movie mogul Jack Warner (left) to discuss
one of Bob's film concepts. Moving to the theatrical world, Bob directed Academy Award winner Cliff Robertson
and Carol Burnett in a stage production of “Love Letters.” Cliff later wrote to Bob. "It was a joy;
a sheer delight. Thank you for your patience, your insight and your fellowship."

Bob with cast of the TV series 'Riptide.'
Bob with cast members of "Riptide."

Robert S. Sallin - Creative and Management Consultant

Bob hasn't stopped. He is currently a creative and management consultant to the communications, media and advertising industries. His client list has included the Los Angeles Police Department, The University of California, Santa Barbara, Pacific Data Images (now Dreamworks SKG), and the Turner Broadcasting System.

Robert S. Sallin.

Recently, for the Los Angeles Police Department, Bob created a media-wide public service campaign aimed at reducing the firing of weapons into the air during holiday celebrations. This involved writing and directing radio and television spots, as well designing outdoor billboards, bus cards, and flyers.

On September 24, 2009, he received a surprise commendation from the out-going Chief of Police, William Bratton. The text of the citation read:

For your unwavering dedication and support during the New Year's Eve Shots Fired Reduction campaign and the Fourth of July Fireworks Reduction efforts. The valuable input and creativity that you provided during these endeavors resulted in the creation of educational material that conveyed a very powerful and direct message to the citizens of Los Angeles. Additionally, your professional contributions, selfless dedication of time and enduring advice, ensured that these life-saving efforts achieved maximum results. On behalf of all Angelenos and the Los Angeles Police Department, I want to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude for the key role that you played during these two very important and worthy causes.

Bob receives a commendation from
the Los Angeles Police Department, 2009.
Bob receives commendation from the
Los Angeles Police Department.

Bob’s creative work also has found its way into our current national consciousness. Because of his years of service in both the Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, he felt that many of our citizens were not fully aware of the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve today, as well as their families.

So, not long ago, using only the internet and his Powerbook, he created a highly personal video expression of gratitude for our country’s military and families, “When I Come Home.”

<View the Robert Sallin video "When I Come Home">

As a result, he has received letters of appreciation from both former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace as well as former President Bill Clinton. They refer to the video as “Distant Shores,” which was an early working title.

Letter from General Peter Pace.

Letter from former President Bill Clinton.

A Long and Winding Road

Bob returns to the place where his Hollywood journey began,
Brookline Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

It’s been a long journey for Robert Sallin, but as someone wrote, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”

* Information provided by Robert S. Sallin - June 2011 *

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