The first broadcast of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Shore Leave” – considered by many fans to be one of the show's best -- occurred 52 years ago this week. With many people across the globe experiencing cold winter weather, we thought this was a good time to thaw a bit and celebrate its warmth.

In this article, we thought we’d take a look at the exterior filming locations, a trick used by the optical house for one of the special effects sequences, and a deleted scene.

So, here we go. Face front, everyone. Don't talk. Don't breathe. Don't think. You're at attention. Concentrate on this article and only on this article. Concentrate.

The One With the Rabbit

“Shore Leave,” the 15th episode of TOS in broadcast order, was written by Theodore Sturgeon with significant, uncredited help from executive producer Gene Roddenberry and producer Gene L. Coon. It was directed by Robert Sparr – his only Trek outing because some of the actors had difficulty working with him, despite lavish praise bestowed on him and his style from associate producer Robert H. Justman.

Above: A scan of the episode synopsis for “Shore Leave” included in the syndication (rerun) package first distributed by Paramount Television in late 1969. Since TOS had been cancelled by then and was no longer on a national network schedule, the promotional literature produced by Paramount used placeholders (specifically, zeros) for the channel, day and time. These were replaced by the local stations with the correct information when they were edited prior to publication. Note that the episode numbering scheme used by Paramount Television was based on production order and not broadcast order. Also, note the errors in the synopsis.

Location, Location, Location

Interior scenes for “Shore Leave” were filmed at Desilu Studios and exteriors were shot at two different locations.

Above: About one-half of the exterior scenes in “Shore Leave,” – for example those in the glade showing McCoy encountering Alice and the White Rabbit and Don Juan harassing Tonia Barrows (Emily Banks) – were filmed at a place called Africa U.S.A. Africa U.S.A. was a ca. 100-acre wild animal preserve/compound located in Soledad Canyon, California. It was established in 1965 by animal trainer Ralph Helfer and operated by him and producer Ivan Tors, both of whom loved animals and realized that Hollywood needed a steady source of them. In fact, at one time, Africa U.S.A. contained more than 600 critters including lions, leopards, tigers, bears, gazelles, elephants, hippos and hyenas.

Above: Africa U.S.A. no longer exists today, having been wiped out by a catastrophic flood in the spring of 1969. The land it once occupied currently is a park for recreational vehicles. We should point out that some online resources claim that the Shambala Animal Preserve is located on the former Africa U.S.A. site. However, according to Tippi Hedren (the current president of Shambala’s Roar Foundation), this is not the case. Incidentally, “Shore Leave” was the only TOS episode to film at Africa U.SA.

Above: The other exterior location used for “Shore Leave” was the scenic Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Agua Dulce, California. Located just a short distance away from Africa U.S.A., this place was used for scenes such as the one of Kirk chasing Finnegan that occurred towards the end of the episode. The Vasquez Rocks Park is well known to Star Trek fans, and it was used to represent alien worlds several times in TOS, including those in “Arena,” “The Alternative Factor” and “Friday's Child.” The map area shown is approximately 40/45 miles north/northeast of Hollywood.

The Flopped Planet

In order to save time and money, the TOS production team often reused planet globe (model) shots. In many instances, they used them exactly as they were originally filmed; case in point, shots of Delta Vega from “Where No Man Has Gone Before” were reused as M-113 in "The Man Trap." At other times, however, the producers had the optical house alter the shots to disguise them. Delta Vega, for example, was tinted blue during optical compositing in order to use it to represent Rigel XII in “Mudd's Women.” This latter example of optical trickery (i.e., tinting) was also employed for the planet shown in “Shore Leave” -- but with an additional twist.

Above: The planet seen in “Shore Leave” (shown in the frame capture on the right) was actually the Earth II globe first developed for “Miri.” Footage of that planet was tinted green for “Shore Leave” and optically mirrored in the optical printer (shown on the left) to hide the planetary features.

Don Juan Fights McCoy – A Deleted Scene

Every episode of TOS had one or more scenes deleted or trimmed as the episodes were being assembled, and that was certainly the case with “Shore Leave.” The scene shown below was deleted from Act II and it shows McCoy (DeForest Kelley) battling Don Juan (James Gruzal). Interestingly, this scene was a nice, action-filled one for Gruzal and it’s unfortunate that it wound up on the cutting room floor (except for a small portion of it that survived in the previous week’s preview of the episode). The scene occurred immediately before McCoy’s fateful encounter with the knight; note that it wasn’t filmed exactly as scripted. Also, we’ve bookended the deleted material with frame captures from the preview trailer and the finished episode in order to put it into context.


Managing a small smile. She moves a bit to the side of the tree, nervously - and suddenly - the Don Juan character leaps out and grabs her. She thrashes at him screaming wildly.


McCoy leaps at the man, battles to protect Tonia.


McCoy, breathing hard, has beaten off Don Juan, who is fleeing. Then McCoy's attention is drawn by HOOFBEATS and he turns to see:


Riding into scene, sees McCoy, turns his horse in that direction, lowers his lance.

And with that, we’ll end this article and wrap for the year. Happy holidays, and may all your fantasies come true in 2019.


David Tilotta is a professor at North Carolina State University and Curt McAloney is a graphic artist residing in Minnesota. Together, they work on Their book, Star Trek: Lost Scenes, was released in August 2018 by Titan Books and it’s filled with hundreds of carefully curated, never-before-seen color photos that are used to chronicle the making of the original series, reassemble deleted scenes left on the cutting-room floor, and showcase bloopers from the first pilot through the last episode. They can be contacted at and


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