Director Robert Butler has died at the age of 95. His credentials and credits run a mile long.
I met him—or was in the same room in him—at a scoring session for Turbulence at Paramount. This was towards the end of 1996, not long after I moved to L.A.
All I knew is it was the new Shirley Walker score and her team had kindly invited me to the session. Whoever brought me into the control room was like, “And there’s the director, Bob Butler,” and I remember doing a double take—Robert Butler, director of the Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”? Yep!
Also in the booth, forgive the sidetrack, was Shirley’s music editor, Tom Milano. I know this because, at some point, I noticed a petite brunette sitting on a couch, just watching, polite. She seems smiley and friendly. She was so doll-like beautiful, with enormous brown eyes popping off her face, it was sort of impossible to believe.
This was Alyssa Milano, Tom’s daughter, coming to say hi.
If you get a chance to see one of these mega movie (or TV) stars in person, what you notice is that the men have giant faces on big heads. The women, meanwhile, tend to be tiny, kind of doll-like—but again have these enormous features, particularly large eyes.
Because, duh, they photograph well.
I don’t remember a single meaningful interaction with Bob Butler. He seemed a little gruff and intimidating, although I think I’m remembering his presence, not his actual behavior.
One piece of trivia about Star Trek casting I learned in recent years: Gene Roddenberry had always wanted DeForest Kelley to play the Enterprise’s doctor. But Kelley was not cast as McCoy until the first regularly produced episode, “The Corbomite Maneuver.” Why?
It came down to the pilot directors. In “The Cage,” Butler felt Kelley was too youngish and similar in appearance to Jeffrey Hunter (they both have sparkling blue eyes). He wanted somebody older, for contrast, so they got John Hoyt.
And in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” I remember reading that James Goldstone wanted Paul Fix, and Roddenberry again deferred to the director. (Source here.)