From the Stage at
Brookline Elementary School
to the Sound Stages of Paramount Pictures
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
The following are excerpts from a
Pittsburgh Press article written by Ed Blank, Drama Editor, in June of
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
"Well-l-l, there are many forms of life
and death in science fiction," Sallin says, putting Trekkies at
Lead time, figuring backwards from a
proposed release date, is about 15 months for a movie involving lots of special
"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
"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
Sallin's involvement with such a hit is
a fitting career peak for someone whose show biz itch started
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
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
"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 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
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!
<Read Interview of Robert
Sallin in Star Trek-The Magazine, September 2002>
From the School
Auditorium to the Big Screen
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
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.
Among the many stars Bob directed in
commercials were Jack Lemmon and Rodney Dangerfield.
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,
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
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
Bob with cast members of
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.
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 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
<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.
A Long and
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
Information provided by Robert S. Sallin - June 2011 *