Friday, July 29, 2011

The Enterprise Crew

I first saw STAR TREK in 1966 but I didn't watch it regularly until the first round of seventies reruns. I saw enough of it to know who the crew members were, though, so memorably played by actors who would become oh so familiar. Over the years, I've had the pleasure to meet or at least see in person the entire main Enterprise crew except for Shatner and Nimoy.

I saw DeForrest Kelley in person at the height of the STAR TREK afterlife success. It was at Omnicon in Louisville, KY in 1976. I stood next to him while he was being interviewed by a local television news reporter. Later that evening, I watched that clip on TV in my hotel room.

It was about fourteen years before I saw another Trek star in person and that was George Takei, oddly enough in Louisville. I was working for Waldenbooks and we actually had a table at the Con so I was just able to watch him speak but he was incredibly charismatic and funny and well-deserving of the odd celebrity success he's encountered in recent years.

My wife had just had her gall bladder removed a couple of years on but wouldn't let that allow her to miss a STAR TREK Convention so we rented a wheelchair and went to see James Doohan. He had no way of knowing she wasn't permanently in the wheelchair so he had her led up front to sit next to him as he met with other signers. He was very, very friendly but rather vitriolic when he was talking about Mr. Shatner.

As a young girl, my wife, like many of her age no doubt, related most to Nurse Chapel and her unrequited love for Mr. Spock. We saw Majel Barrett Roddenberry at a downtown Cincinnati Convention and she was a hoot! Scheduled signings had lines forming way in advance but we caught her just sitting at a table casually meeting with fans and signing things so we stood and waited our turn. When my wife got up to her, Ms. Roddenberry asked her name...and all she could do was go 'homina...homina...homina..." I told her that her name was "Rene." She smiled and signed. My wife currently writes Spock/Chapel fanfic and has a cool Nurse Chapel action figure.

There was a huge snowstorm and we thought sure a Trek Con north of Cincy would be canceled but we called the hotel and they said it was on. We slowly and carefully made our way out only to hear that Nichelle Nichols' plane had been delayed by the weather. Late in the day, however, she arrived, looking absolutely the vision of loveliness. We heard her speak and then watched a thousand people line up for autographs. Instead, we sat across from her as she met with fans and she would constantly make eye contact with us and wink and smile as if everything she said to the fans she was actually saying just to us. That was neat!

Walter Koenig was recovering from a minor stroke when we saw him at a Cincinnati Con. He was, as are all the Trek veterans, a delight but he seemed to tire quite easily. We spoke with him later and my wife spent a lot of time chastising him for not staying home and resting and coming out another time. That made him laugh.

Leonard Nimoy was rumored to be the upcoming guest at the second STAR TREK CINCINNATI con organized by one particular group but that group went out of business instead. William Shatner came through my airport bookstore one day a few years back but he was, I'm told quite petulant and actually almost ran from fans. I missed him by about ten minutes.

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