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Original Series Gold - A Reply to Screen Rant

ANOVOS’ STAR TREK Original Series Season One Starfleet Insignia on a Command Division Gold Velour Tunic. 

On Tuesday a friend sent me a link to an interesting story...

It was from SCREEN RANT titled, "Star Trek: Kirk's Iconic Uniform Color Was A Mistake." Well I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to see someone else’s take on the never ending debate about the color of Captain Kirk's Tunics - So I ran to check it out!

   Original story and photo alteration by Zac Kellian for SCREEN RANT. * Click Image for Link

Written by Zac Kellian, the blog entry's first statement is absolutely correct. The evidence is overwhelming that The Original Series' famed Costume Designer William Ware Theiss absolutely intended Starfleet's Command Division to wear some shade of green. He quite correctly points out that Captain Kirk occasionally wore darker green colored wraparound tunics, but strangely he seems oblivious to the presence of Kirk's green Dress Uniform tunics, or the Command Division's green coveralls which would have further backed up his "theissis." BUT, his story completely falls apart after that one statement with his next line. 

Command Division Green from TOS. A crewman in coveralls, Kirk in his Season 1 & 2 Wraps, and Dress Uniform. 

He says, “Believe it or not, all of the original series Command uniforms were originally lime green.” 

It's not really his fault. Mr. Kellian means well enough, but falls victim to something that has plagued everyone who only dips a single toe into the deep ocean of what’s become a debate without end, “The Great Kirk Tunic Color War.” 

Misinformation. The interwebs are full of it. 

A cursory Google search just can't impart a lifetime of research, but Mr. Kellian's blog is written with all of the certainty of someone who has read just one line of a PhD dissertation, and then puts all his journalistic weight behind his shocking discovery. 

He is, of course, incorrect.  

Captain Kirk in his “Avocado Gold/Green,” Command Division Uniform in season 3’s  “The Paradise Syndrome.” 

No Zac, they weren't “Lime Green,” or “Apple Green,” or any other shade of Green. Captain Kirk's Regular Uniform Tunics were Gold. 

It's an easy and understandable mistake to make. 

Many have. Many still do. 


About twenty years ago in the earliest chat rooms and message boards set up to discuss Star Trek's uniforms, someone would inevitably come along and say, "Guys! Did you know Captain Kirk's yellow shirt was really green?!?" 

Rage Mode Activated

New people in the hobby would gasp & say, "No way, that’s amazing" while more experienced people would simply say "Here we go again." Sigh. I guess it's my turn. 

ANOVOS’ Premier Line STAR TREK Original Series Season Three Command Uniform Tunic. 

What people were referring to was Captain Kirk's 3rd Season nylon, Command Gold Uniform Tunics. They’re tunics that we’re all incredibly familiar with at ANOVOS. They’ve been one of our most accurate and popular replicas since entering the marketplace over a decade ago. 

How do we know they’re accurate? We use the original materials, and most importantly - the original color dye formula, from the original dye house, which was developed & used for Star Trek in 1968 & ‘69. 

We know they’re right because we’ve been granted access to examine and compare original Star Trek uniforms that survive in the archives maintained by ViacomCBS, and in private collections.  

That's me with a couple of Third Season Command Tunics, corrected to demonstrate the fabric’s  “avocado” color. 


The third season Command Tunic has always been a very peculiar color. It was described by Bill Theiss as an "Avocado Gold/Green'' which is to say that it’s a shade of yellow with a touch of green to it. It's certainly NOT "lime green" or anything even approaching that shade.


It's a weird color to be sure. 

To the naked eye, in natural light, it appears to be almost more green than gold, but when photographed...it turns gold. 

Now there are a number of reasons for this color shift. 

A bisected avocado for reference

From the particular Eastman/KODAK 5251 color negative film used for TOS, to how it was processed, to the various colored gels used to light the interior of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE. But, I've found (and demonstrated to countless people at conventions over the years) that something about photographing these tunics - even just looking at them through a camera's shutter - turns them gold. 

Every damn time. Weird.

Season 3 Uniform tunic as originally televised, and color corrected for the remastered “Requiem for Methuselah.” 

The 3rd Season Command Tunic is the origin of this particular color phenomena, but Zac compounds his mistake - like so many others before him, by assuming that same information must apply to all of Captain Kirk's gold uniform tunics (and of course Sulu & Chekov's) worn throughout the series. It's probable then that he's simply unaware that the velour (actually brushed tricot) fabric used for the first two season's uniforms was a different shade of gold altogether, and unquestionably yellow (no matter how green he photoshopped Captain Kirk's tunic for his blog). 

The original image of Captain James T. Kirk from Season 1 -- The gold velour tunic in “The Alternative Factor.” 

In the first (and best) two seasons - the tunics worn by Captain Kirk and others belonging to the Command Division were a warmer citrus based yellow that under certain lighting conditions picks up the faintest greenish twinge. But they remain an almost perfect yellow on a Pantone Color chart. A yellow we copied from original references in the archives & allowing for color drift over the course of five decades.  

ANOVOS’ 50th Anniversary Season 1 Velour Tunic laying on a Season 3 Premier Line Tunic, in sunlight.  

The truth then is far more involved than just saying all of Kirk’s shirts were “originally lime green.” The fact is that none of them were. Even the wool wraparound tunics which WERE green were different shades entirely. You can see that yourself by simply watching the remastered Original Series. The Season 1 wrap was almost olive, while season 2 was colored more like Kermit the Frog. 

ANOVOS’ Season 1 & Season 2 Captain Kirk Wraparound Tunics 

In any case, the shirts he was trying to talk about were conclusively yellow/gold (with maybe a hint of green). A better headline for Zac’s blog would have been “Captain Kirk’s Iconic Uniform Color Was Complicated.” But I guess that's just not as buzz worthy. 😒

Captain James Kirk wearing his Second Season gold velour Command Tunic on Pyris VII, in “Catspaw.”  

Honestly on my first readthrough of Zac’s blog, I just wanted to ignore it. I hoped I could. I really didn’t want to write about it at all. I just wanted it to go away. BUT, I’ve been in the trenches too long. I’ve been a soldier in “The Great Kirk Tunic Color Wars” (from both sides of it) for decades. 

Mr. Kellin’s blog entry - as harmless as it might seem - is a new front in that fight. Already it’s being fired off to different corners of social media and paraded around as “proof” for the green side in this never-ending hellscape of debate. 

For example, recently it was reposted by the Roddenberry Entertainment facebook page, and just from there it’s been shared 208 times. 208 people spreading nothing but misinformation to who knows how many people, and that’s just from one post! 

Imagine the damage it’ll do by the weekend.

That was nothing compared to the bloody, open warfare of “The Great Kirk Tunic Color Wars.” I have seen mild mannered costumers turn into wild berserkers on virtual battlefields. 

I’ve seen heads explode like watermelons and people compare the color of the rind to one of Kirk’s wraps. Dark stuff. You wanna be a hero? Spread this response instead. Anywhere you see that insidious Screen Rant story, retort with this. 

Maybe, just maybe we can spread some truth out there. 

Doctor McCoy, Captain Kirk, and Commander Spock of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE in Season One’s “This Side of Paradise.”   


Stay Safe, and Live Long & Prosper, 
-John

*Screen Rant Article Reference  https://screenrant.com/star-trek-kirk-uniform-tos-original-series-green-yellow/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Cooley

John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS

(P.S. Now that’s a green tunic 😃)

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