Gene L. Coon (7 January 1924 - 8 July 1973) was an American screenwriter and television producer. He is best known for his work on Star Trek: The Original Series.
Gene Coon served in the United States Marine Corps for four years during and after World War II, seeing combat in the Pacific theater and serving in China and in occupied Japan.
Gene Coon wrote mainly for television. His writing credits included Dragnet, Bonanza, Zorro, Have Gun - Will Travel, Wagon Train, and The Wild Wild West, as well as the premiere episode of McHale's Navy. He also became a producer for The Wild Wild West and later became a producer and writer for Star Trek. His Wagon Train scripts contained strong moral lessons concerning personal redemption and opposing war, and he later repeated very similar themes in his Star Trek scripts (the latter series had the unofficial nickname of “Wagon Train to the Stars”). He joined Star Trek in the middle of the first season, and left in the middle of the second season. He continued to contribute scripts for the third season, under the pseudonym “Lee Cronin”, as he was under contract to Universal Studios at the time and was not, technically, supposed to be working for Paramount as well.
His credited creations for Star Trek include the Klingons (in “Errand of Mercy”), Khan Noonien Singh (in “Space Seed”), Zefram Cochrane (in “Metamorphosis”), and the Prime Directive. Since he also had the position of doing rewrites for scripts, his work touches many more episodes. He also mentored the young David Gerrold and helped him polish the script for the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”.
Following Star Trek, Coon went on to produce the Universal Studios series It Takes a Thief, starring Robert Wagner, and to write for Kung Fu and The Streets of San Francisco. Coon was known as one of the fastest writers in Hollywood, and it wasn't unusual for him to rewrite a script over a weekend for shooting on the following Monday. He had a dry sense of humor as reflected in his two novels, Meanwhile Back At The Front and The Short End (published in 1964 about the Korean War). Coon was also lucky enough to be reunited with the love of his life in time for them to spend his last years together.
He died of lung cancer in 1973.