Day two of Star Trek Las Vegas offered an overflowing buffet of activities and events for the Trek faithful, with highlights including a tribute to Nichelle Nichols that featured a surprise appearance by Whoopi Goldberg. And, Goldberg’s own long-awaited first-ever convention appearance earlier in the day absolutely brought down the house. Oh, and then there was the wedding between two fans, with Star Trek Elvis — we kid you not — presiding over the ceremony.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The day began with a panel featuring TOS guest stars Laurel Goodwin, Beverly Washburn, Christopher Held and Eddie Paskey, respectively Yeoman J.M. Colt, Lt. Galway, Lindstrom and Lt. Leslie.
Of her appearance, Washburn said, “At least I got to die in Kirk’s arms. I mean, I didn’t understand it… I didn’t even have a redshirt on.”
Held almost played Kirk, prompting him to comment, “He got the fame and the fortune, but I got the girl. And I got her for 55 years.”
And Paskey shared a bit of Trek trivia. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but my character named after William Shatner’s daughter.”
Ike Eisenmann recalled being thrilled when he landed the role of Peter Preston in Star Trek II, but the thrill was gone when he “read the script and found out I got killed off.” He also shared a great anecdote about William Shatner nearly falling 12 feet down an elevator shaft on set. Shatner managed to save himself, “and I knew I was working with Kirk.”
IDW Publishing offered a colorful panel about the history of Trek comic books, and their contribution to that history. It featured IDW’s Chris Ryall and Sarah Gaydos, as well as a truly rare appearance by photo manipulator extraordinaire John Byrne. Gaydos revealed that IDW’s upcoming Waypoint saga will incorporate “all” of Trek history.
Next, Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman reunited to talk about everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey, MASH and, of course, their appearance in the TOS pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Kellerman smiled as she said, “We were supposed to be gods. Gary’s foot slipped into the water. He’s supposed to pull an orange off a tree and peel it for me. Juice is going everywhere… And I was just trying not to laugh.”
Lockwood told a story about getting pulled over by cops for speeding at about 130 MPH. The officers nearly arrested him, until he gave them his ID. One officer asked if he was on Star Trek. Lockwood made circles with his hands over his eyes and said, “You cops give me a ticket and I will squash you like a bug!” The result? “I got out of it.”
Fan faves Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg thrilled the crowd by appearing on stage in character as Rom and Nog. They bantered using a script, but elicited chuckles with their frequent improvisations.
Still, Eisenberg pulled out this old chestnut: “I’m Aron EisenBORG.” And it got a laugh even from folks who knew it was coming.
StarTrek.com gifted fans with a panel devoted to Hallmark and their beloved Trek ornaments. Hallmark’s Christine Taylor and Kevin Dilmore were joined by legendary Hallmark ornament sculptor Lynn Norton.
While showcasing the 2016 ornament collection, a fan stole the occasion with the following statement: “I love your ornaments, but you don’t make enough Star Trek stuff!”
Norton revealed that each ship takes him anywhere from 100 to 120 hours of work from start to finish. His first Star Trek ornament was in 1991 — a replica of the Enterprise model from the second series pilot in 1966. He explained that he had to modify the proportions of various parts of the ship — the size of the saucer, position of the nascelles, etc. — so it would fit into the Keepsake Ornaments display box.
Norton later told fans that a number of the Hallmark ornaments have been used as props on Voyager and Deep Space Nine including as a mobile for a baby on a Voyager episode and in the Dominion War DS9 episodes to help create the illusion of huge armadas.
Later, fans heard the big news first — the 2017 Hallmark Star Trek ship ornament will be the U.S.S. Franklin from Star Trek Beyond.
Next, M-A-C Cosmetics took over the main stage, with Ashley Rudder hosting and noting that “We’re going to talk about how the incredible, phenomenal women of Star Trek can be honored through makeup.”
For the next 45 minutes, as Rudder spoke, a team of artists on stage transformed the M-A-C station’s actresses into Seven of Nine, Deanna Troi and Uhura.
And then it was time for the day’s headliner, Whoopi Goldberg, who took the stage joyously and asked the crowd, “Am I darker than you thought?” Goldberg was full of good humor, terrific memories and pure appreciation for Trek.
It was Nichelle Nichols’ presence on TOS that inspired Goldberg as a child. “Star Trek is 50′” she said. “I’m 60. You never saw black people on television… until Gene Roddenberry put this beautiful woman on Star Trek. And she wasn’t cleaning houses. She was the communications officer.”
LeVar Burton let Roddenberry know that Goldberg WANTED to be on TNG. No one believed it at first, but then Roddenberry phoned her and said, “I’ve created a character for you. I’ve built a bar for you.” Her reply: “Thank you.”
Other interesting Goldberg comments: “I always assumed Guinan was Picard’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother.” “I loved my hats. If you look at the hats very closely, they’re the ship. They’re the front of the ship.” “Guinan and Q were equals. We could crush the universe if we wanted to.” “Tasha Yar. You can’t kill that woman!” “Guinan and Q may have a baby. I’m not saying.”
And more: “Nichelle is stunning and smart, just a great human being. They’re rare, and when you find them, you want to hold on to them.” “I want to do everything I can while I’m still alive.” How about Discovery? “Well, I’m trying to get on that.” “The one thing Star Trek never let go of is hope.”
Another nice moment… James Darren saunters out on stage to give Goldberg a hug.
Finally, Goldberg brought up three fans decked out in full Guinan garb, even sitting on the desk on the stage and ceding the couch to the Guinans. She hugged each starstruck fan — who’d been standing on line to ask her questions — and joined them for selfies. “We had a bet at work,” Goldberg told the ecstatic audience. “They said there won’t be anyone dressed as Guinan…” Goldberg wins that bet, and she won the hearts of everyone in the room.
As always, fans displayed their creativity by sporting a wide array of inventive costumes and enjoying the many photo opportunities.
Up next was a Trek guest star panel featuring Melanie Smith (Torah Ziyal), Hana Hatae (Molly O’Brien), Martha Hackett (Seska) and Natalija Nogulich (Admiral Nachayev).
“I want to applaud you guys,” Smith said. “You are all so special. You bring people together… like my character.”
“Star Trek fans,” Hackett noted, “are the original fans.” Later, Hackett revealed. “”I auditioned for Dax. It was such an interesting character. but I loved playing Seska.”
Hatae recalled catching up with her DS9 father, Colm Meaney, at a convention. “I hadn’t seen him and ran up to him two years ago and said, ‘Daddy!’,
And Nogulich got the crowd buzzing when she announced, “I think Admiral Nechayev should’ve had an affair with Captain Picard.”
It was now late afternoon, and the sons of Trek took the stage — Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy; Chris Doohan, son of James Doohan; and Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry.
“Dad had a lot of trouble leaving Spock at work,” Nimoy said, “and bringing Leonard home.” One family activity was watching TOS with dad on the Nimoy’s “tiny, black and white portable TV.”
“Star Trek is in good hands,” Roddenberry said, “with Bryan Fuller.”
“My dad and Gene Roddenberry,” Doohan shared, “went sailing all the time.” The boat’s name was… Star Trek.
As that panel was nearing its end, word spread that a young couple was getting married over by the Guardian of Forever display just down the hall. Sure enough, fans Astrid Dees and Chris Miller were exchanging vows in a ceremony officiated by Star Trek Elvis, who sported a Trek-bedazzled jumpsuit.
Family and friends shared the moment, and there were tears and smiles as Star Trek Elvis, who IS ordained, intoned, “Chris and Astrid… May they live long and prosper.”
Keep an eye on StarTrek.com for a full feature on the wedding.
And, then came another memorable moment back in the main room, as Nichelle Nichols took the stage to soak in a tribute to her, her life and her career. Scenes of her as Uhura played on the screen. Fans paid homage to her, sharing their stories of what she, and Uhura, meant to them. Zoe Saldana appeared in a prerecorded video, graciously extolling Nichols and saying, “Thank you for being the first, the genesis of Uhura.”
One fan declared, “I’m a gay male, but you’re the first woman I ever fell in love with.” A woman declared that she’s worked at NASA for 20-plus years thanks to the inspiration Nichols provided. Nichols thanked each fan for their words of praise and offered a few comments, including, “I communicated everything I believed in.”
As a special surprise to Nichols, Whoopi Goldberg then joined her on stage. The ladies, who are longtime friends, hugged and kissed. And Goldberg said, “Let’s just talk about what you have done for women…”
And Nichols lovingly returned the compliment, saying, “I have always thought of you as being the personification of what women could, would and should be.” And, with that, Nichols exited the stage, accompanied by Goldberg, to a standing ovation and deafening cheering from the adoring crowd.
And the day’s programming concluded with one more StarTrek.com panel, this one devoted to the upcoming revised and expanded edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Leading the conversation were its authors, popular Trek figures Denise and Mike Okuda.
“The (original) Encyclopedia was two years of our lives,” Mike and Denise Okuda said.
Denise Okuda added, “We would say, “‘There’s simply no way another encyclopedia would happen.'” And here we are. The main reason? YOU. “We love Star Trek. We consider Star Trek fans our family.”
Check out the Star Trek Las Vegas Day One recap and watch StarTrek.com for daily recaps.
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