This weekend, Star Trek history was made as Leonard Nimoy attended his last convention as a guest and retires after almost 40 years of con appearances.
Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek 45th Anniversary Convention in Rosemont, Illinois, was the site of an exciting variety of guests and an emotional weekend of events. Here is a summary of some of the best moments:
Creation co-owner Adam Malin presided as host during the annual Chicago Star Trek convention. Malin’s genuine enthusiasms for Trek and science fiction add much to Creation’s Star Trek events as he guides fans through costume contests, guest introductions, auctions, trivia competitions, and the general convention experience. As Star Trek is celebrating its 45th Anniversary, Creation Entertainment has its own 40 year celebration this year.
The first talk of the weekend was by Richard Arnold, the former assistant to Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek consultant who showed very rare photos from the original show.
Then, Dominic Keating appeared on stage, sharing with fans stories of how he got the role of Malcolm Reed and what it was like to audition for the studio executives. A fun anecdote shared by Keating is that John Billingsley’s initial interpretation of Dr. Phlox was that of a bird like alien who squawked when excited.
John DeLancie discussed his Alien Voices famous science fiction narrative audio dramas produced along with Leonard Nimoy during the 1990s and early 2000s, which are now available for download at http://alienvoices.net/ and featuring many Star Trek actors. He also spoke about his appearance in the original 1970s Battlestar Galactica, telling the funny story of how he got the role and quickly found himself in the middle of a desert with a wild costume and a hoard of people chasing at him.
Connor Trinneer rounded out the day with his appearance. He discussed the differences between his characters of Charles Tucker from Enterprise and Michael from the Stargate programs. Fan participation events included a Yes/No trivia game which was made all the more exciting because for the first time, a Star Trek contestant won all three rounds with a perfect score and earned a more than $1700 prize! The evening was completed with a party featuring Keating, Trinneer, and DeLancie in attendance.
John de Lancie
Saturday had perhaps the greatest surprise of the weekend. While much of the energy of the convention was directed anticipating Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols was also an absolutely joyous guest. Her stories of how she met Gene Roddenberry, got the part of Uhura, helped name the character, and her especially touching discussion of how racial prejudice affected her in the role resulted in a truly emotional highlight of the convention. There were few dry eyes in the house as this genuine role model left the stage.
Richard Arnold returned with a second talk showing amazing photos celebrating the history of Star Trek.
Punctuating the afternoon was the exceptionally funny antics of Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner. Beginning with Spiner imitating Patrick Stewart to joking about the first time they saw their action figures, these two have a genuine and easy rapport which translates into laughs and a good time for all. A common theme among all three guests this day was the personal and friendly connection they made with fans during autograph sessions and on stage.
Brent Spiner on stage with Jonathan Frakes
Spiner announced that he was filming more episodes of his web program Fresh Hell. The fan participation event was a costume contest, the largest in many years in Chicago with a variety of truly original entries, from a Gorn in a business suit, to a Stormtrooper in a Red Shirt with a sign proclaiming peace between the franchises, to an amazing and grand prize winning Borg Ferengi.
Beginning with a charity breakfast, the impressive guest list continued at the convention with Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor spending time with fans. The duo treated audiences to a performance of love poetry and quotations in an excellent rendition Cross Our Hearts performance, including the rare treat of seeing them perform their DS9 characters during the event.
Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonis
Both are warm and fan friendly, earnestly answering questions with good humor and kindness. Fans then discussed their hopes for the Star Trek sequel in a fun participation panel.
Leonard Nimoy’s final convention appearance started with an amazing surprise exclusive video featuring all the cast of the new Star Trek (2009) movie and director JJ Abrams sharing their good wishes and roasting Nimoy on his retirement.
Nimoy appeared on stage to thunderous applause and began to tell his life story through words and photos. Interesting facts included his two years in the military as a infantry solider and how as a cab driver he once drove then Senator John F. Kennedy and the two discussed acting and politics. The advice that future President Kennedy gave Nimoy, that there is always room for one more good actor, was an inspiration to Nimoy.
As Nimoy left the stage, the audience all produced signs saying “We love you Leonard! Live Long and Prosper!” to which Nimoy appeared very moved. He waved once last time, and exited the stage. Nimoy then asked that a cake that Creation had made for him be shared with the entire audience.
The weekend was fun filled with fan friendly guests and talks running the gamut of emotions, from tears to laughter. The convention was an honor to attend as it represented a passage in Star Trek fan history as both the past and future of Star Trek was celebrated.
RELATED: Leonard Nimoy Bids Farewell at His Final Convention Appearance in Chicago
Creation Entertainment returns to Chicago next October 19-21, 2012.
[Photos: John Tenuto]
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on Star Trek’s history, and have been invited to present at venues such as Creation Conventions, ReedPOP’s official Star Trek 50th Anniversary Convention, the St. Louis Science Center, and to the towns of Riverside, Iowa (future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk) and Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. They have appeared in episodes of the Netflix TV show “The Toys that Made Us” and in the Decades Network documentary “Through the Decades: Star Wars 40th Anniversary.” They’ve written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their research has been featured on BBC Radio, WGN News, CBS News, and in the USA Today and WIRED Magazine.