Leonard Nimoy: ‘This has been a long and fabulous trip.’ : ‘STAR TREK’ SPIRIT HIGH AT ANNIVERSARY SALUTE
It was midsummer’s day, there was a full moon and the Magic Kingdom was next door.
What better setting for the Starlog Magazine salute to the 20th anniversary of “Star Trek” at the Disneyland Hotel this past weekend?
Close to 6,000 “Trekkies” wandered the Grand Ballroom and the Exhibit Hall, looking for Star Trek memorabilia, friends and a good time. And virtually all of them carried the unwavering white-hot passion for “Star Trek” that has made the series the “show that survived Nielsen death,” as creator Gene Roddenberry said in a talk on Sunday.
Ulysses Gonzalez, 26, of Anaheim commented while waiting in a line of 150 people to get in: “I like ‘Star Trek’ because of the adventure, the stories and the interaction of the characters. And I like Mr. Spock because of his practicality.”
Randy Pryor, also 26 and from Anaheim, agreed with Gonzalez: “The series and the movies are great because it all works and this is fun! The people are weird--and I’m weird!”
Greg West, 18, of Anchorage, Alaska, was at the hotel because “It was part of my graduation present. I like ‘Star Trek’ as a whole and my favorite is Adm. Kirk. Also because everybody (several of the series’ original actors) was going to be here, instead of just one, which really made it special.”
Alison and Alvita Lyons of Sepulveda (niece and aunt) were dressed in costumes. Alison liked the series because the characters are different and all worked together. “It’s easier to identify with Spock because I’m half English and half black (Spock is a half breed human/Vulcan). I look up to Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and my favorite (character) is Chekov (Walter Koenig)!”
Mr. Spock, in the person of Leonard Nimoy, spoke to an overcapacity crowd of fans in the Exhibit Hall late Saturday afternoon. With all the flashcubes and strobes going off, his entrance almost looked as if he had beamed down in a glitter of light. It took several minutes for the shouting and cheering to quiet down, and then he commented in impassive Vulcan style, “You’re so emotional!”
He adroitly fielded questions and otherwise entertained the fans for the next hour. During his talk, the Anaheim mayor pro tem, Irv Pickler, presented Nimoy with a proclamation declaring June 21-22 as “Star Trek” weekend in Anaheim. Nimoy concluded his talk saying, “This has been a long and fabulous trip with many ups and downs in the last 20 years, and I hope in December (when the Nimoy-directed “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is released) that it will all come together for all of us.”
Nimoy wasn’t the only series regular to make an appearance. DeForest Kelley, who plays Dr. McCoy, also spoke to an ecstatic crowd on Sunday afternoon. His entrance was preceded by an introduction from comedian Rick Overton, who noted that Dr. McCoy was famous for, among other things, "...a line even coroners use!” Overton asked the crowd what it was.
“HE’S DEAD, JIM!” the crowd yelled, and with that Kelley walked on stage. He read a long, humorous poem about his adventures and life with “Star Trek,” accepted presents from fans and answered questions.
Other cast members who appeared over the weekend were Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played nurse and later Dr. Christine Chapel and is the wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry. She showed two “Star Trek” blooper reels; Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), who did a comedic, rapid-fire dialogue with himself and his character Chekov; Mark Lenard, who plays Spock’s Vulcan father; Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), and “The Great Bird of the Galaxy” himself, Gene Roddenberry, who closed the weekend’s festivities.
He gave an impassioned talk about “Star Trek” and its effects on television, exhorting the audience to take chances: “Trekkies are people ready for 23rd-Century dreams now! Science fiction is one of the greatest tools for learning and getting ideas.”
Roddenberry also discussed the rumor about a revival of the “Star Trek” series: “There will not be a “Star Trek” series with the original actors. They wouldn’t do it again.”
In last Monday’s Hollywood Reporter, a front-page article said that “ABC, CBS, FBC (Fox Broadcasting Network) and NBC have all held ‘Star Trek’ series discussions with Paramount” but that Paramount officials had “no comment” on any aspect of Star Trek’s “return to television.” William Shatner (Adm. Kirk) told The Times last Tuesday that if someone hadn’t mentioned the story in the Reporter to him, he wouldn’t have known the talks were occurring.
One of the other special events at the convention was the marriage of fans Ray Tanyer and Holly Nowell in Star Trek costumes in front of about 600 fans. The Houston residents met a year ago at a science-fiction convention, and they figured that the convention was the “logical” place to get married. Their wedding was followed by an elaborate parade of 40 contestants for best costume, from Becky Elder, 6, of Orange, who won first place in the junior division as a tribble (space creatures that multipled like rabbits), to a group representing the “Road Warrior” series of films, to the BBC’s “Doctor Who,” as well as several people in a variety of Starfleet costumes. There were slide presentations, conversations with Alexander Courage (“Star Trek” theme composer), trivia contests and auctions. At Saturday’s auction, a pair of Nimoy’s Vulcan ears went for $350.
The Huckster’s Room in the Grand Ballroom provided am array of fan delights, from autographed pictures and posters (one going for a $100) to soft-featured dolls (a la Cabbage Patch) of the series’ central characters. Balloons lettered “Happy Birthday Mr. Spock” bobbed above the heads of fans. 20th Century Fox, Dino DeLaurentiis Entertainment and Paramount (the studio that produces “Star Trek”) had displays for their upcoming summer and Christmas releases. Many fans wore Starfleet uniforms and some portrayed their favorite villains, the Klingons, in snarling black and glitter.
Kerry O’Quinn, publisher of Starlog magazine, surveying the crowd surging into the Exhibit Hall on Saturday morning, smiled and said, “This is the biggest “Star Trek” convention we’ve ever had. We usually get 1,500 to 2,000 people.”
Carr D’Angelo, managing editor of Starlog, echoed O’Quinn late Sunday evening. “This is definitely Starlog’s biggest convention. The fact that we had Gene Roddenberry, DeForest Kelley and Leonard Nimoy--when normally there’s just one of these actors, was a real plus. The Events Room has been consistently full. People are happy, and they seemed to have gotten what they paid for.”