Our video of the day is a flashback to 1973 and the dawn of the Star Trek convention phenomenon. The newly uploaded video has clips of fans and Star Trek stars at a con from New York City, along with commentary from Star Trek writer DC Fontana, sci-fi author Isaac Asimov and more. Check it out below.
Star Trek Convention Flashback to 1973
Here is the clip from a 1973 Star Trek con at the Commodore Hotel in New York City (uploaded by beyondspock on on Youtube – via Ed Gross).
Get a haricut, you hippies!
Wow! Asimov’s commentary is fascinating to watch. As a huge fan of his writing who hasn’t seen much video of him speak, just the fact that it’s an involved monologue by Asimov is pretty cool, but to hear him specifically discuss the character of Star Trek and its impact on science-fiction is really something else… As awesome a video as I’ve seen posted on here. I expect many folks who read regularly on here might have already seen it before, but first time for me.
(Was any of this in that movie “Trekkies”? I remember they at least covered the first ST Convention.)
ahh the good old days,,
Fascinating. And moving.
^2 Nope, not in “Trekkies”, although the fans in that one were just as smug…
That’s a joke, kids.
I hope the “Court” pays attention to this clip.
Love these flashbacks. It’s the closest thing we have to time travel.
Pretty Groovey Flashback. Or is that Far Out. Lol. Anyway. Was some Cool stuff to see.
“The program is merely a way to entice you to watch the advertising”
Spot on, Asimov!
Man, people had weird hair back then!
It’s always fun to see footage from years before I was born.
Hmmm….I think Ambassador X @0:30 may be the missing link between Klingons of TOS and ST:TMP that some have been looking for.
So the cure for Klingon augment virus lies in….tartar sauce?
I was 18 in 1973. My back hurts.
I was 11 in 1973. My back still hurts and I want to slap Red Dead Ryan.
Did the guy really glue a lobster to his face? How shellfish of him.
(11, yours is better, but I couldn’t let that one pass w/o a snide comment.)
Love Isaac Asimov, mutton chops and all. One of the Big 4. But, don’t be making fun of my favorite split infinitive. Also love that Gene actually sold a few of his IDIC thingies. (Shat referred to them as being a warehouse full of junk.)
Is that a time-travelling Spockanella at the very end, sobbing over LN??
Slightly different topic, but what happened to the TOS/TAS episodes at CBS.com? They’re gone.
Oh dear, that weeping girl at the end………
Great, Great find.
I wonder what became of the Lobster Dude. Wish I could have been there. Then again, I would have only been a year old. . .
I lived that time, but I never got to the FIRST convention. It was FAN based, done by FANS FOR FANS! That convention moved from New York, down to Baltmore, and became two conventions. Farpoint and Shore Leave. They continue to exist. And THANK GOODNESS they do. FAN run conventions are the best because they know what FANS want, not only celebrities, but fan run panels for discussions, there are merchandise, but there are also other things. Without the FANS starting the ST conventions, there wouldn’t be any today
No. 13 – Read Shat’s book about his experience with attending a convention (not for the first time), but secretly in disguise. He wanted to know what it was all about, because the conventions he had attended were quick and dirty. He was ushered in then back out so fast by “body guards” that he never got a true sense of what a convention was really like. He didn’t spend time on the floor with the fans (and couldn’t because he wasn’t allowed to). When he did finally attend a convention where he disguised himself and saw it through the eyes of the fans, he realized just how much fun they were, and how much people really loved the show, and he apologized for his remarks on Saturday Night Live of “Get a Life” and that became the title of his book. It really was an eye opening experience for him. And I really respect him for that.
“brotherhood of intelligence”. I like that. Right on, brother Asimov!
wow. that last chick. Its like she was at a Beatles concert or something…
It’s a very pleasant surprise to see this video. I didn’t know it existed. I attended this convention as a child, with my younger brother who has since passed on. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had with my brother and It lives in my heart forever. We were both big Star Trek fans and I heard of the convention on the radio, WABC in New York City, right after a Beatle song. I convinced my mother to bring my brother and I to the Commodore Hotel for the convention. She left me to take care of my brother at the event as she didn’t want to go and said she would be back in a few hours after she went shopping. Leonard Nimoy was not scheduled to be there. We were watching the film “Silent Running” with Joan Baez singing on the film’s soundtrack when a rumbling began in the room. The film stopped and the lights went up and the screen was pulled up. The folding chairs started moving forward and were closing in on my brother and I. We were both really frightened as we thought we were going to be crushed in some sort of disaster. Then everyone stopped pushing and the chairs stopped closing in. Out came Nimoy, Takei and Doohan exactly as you see them in the still at the top of this posting. It was a magical moment as my brother and I were stunned and felt like the luckiest people on earth. Hearing Leonard Nimoy speak was wonderful. My brother remembered it for the rest of his life and we smiled whenever we brought it up. It has remained a moment of extraordinary joy in my mind that I treasure forever. Thank you for posting this video.
..That’s what started it all folks. And this was before the Internet, or DVDs or VHS…all the fans had were a few scattered newsletters, some fanzines and 60 minutes of TOS, if you were lucky enough to have it run on one of your 3 or 4 local stations. Unlike today, where sometimes I feel fans are more a fan of fandom itself than the actual show.
This makes me wish I’d been born earlier. To have been around back then and at the right age to enjoy it. From what I’ve read though, major TV Executives (from the big three Networks in the US?) were confident enough to show repeats of Star Trek close to or during prime time throughout the 70’s, so it perhaps isn’t any wonder the fanbase grew massively. They could do with treating Star Trek like that now-a-days, rather than as a dispensable filler at odd hours of the day and night. Right alongside whatever lawyer/doctor/cop show currently gets all the attention.
I was just 4 when this happened. Became a fan just a couple of years latter. Some good times.
@ 22. Douglas
Thank you for sharing your special memories.
I am a New Yorker, and I remember Nimoy coming to an auto show in, maybe 1974. He had no cars to display, but he was a major draw to the show, and my dad told me to ‘wait here’ and he stood in the huge line, and got me his autographed (and personalized) headshot.
I used to go to comic cons in NYC in the 1980s, and there is still one per year, and I managed a few Trek Cons in the ’90s.
New York City used to be a major location for Trek cons, but, for some reason, Creation and its ilk now steer clear, now opting for Parsippany NJ, 60 miles away, putting NYC dwellers, who mostly do not drive, out of reach. Most of those I met in Parsippany in 2009 were from Jersey or PA.
It boggles that NYC (20m urban conurbation) gets no cons, and no visits from the traveling “Experience” collection, and it’s a massive bastion of fandom. Hell, we used to have a store called the “Federation Trading Post” on East 52nd Street dedicated to Trek.
Very good, as was Asimov’s point that the show was about encountering problems that humans had not had to face before.
That should offer some scope for fresh story telling in the future.
Enjoyed seeing Nimoy’s bit on the substance of the show. 40+ years later, all of the cast have been asked the same question about what makes Star Trek special so many times, their answers seem rote. (Not a criticism…but after all this time, the emotion of the response has “left the building.”) So it was great to see him delivering an impassioned and seemingly spontaneous response.
@28 – It’s astonishing to me that we have essentially the entire galaxy from which we could draw potentially unlimited types of stories, and yet we debate here how Trek has endured “franchise fatigue,” and have expressed concern here that Trek XII might just be a retelling of a TOS episode in the alternate timeline…
That same issue bugs me as well, especially as Ron Moore complained the ‘Star Trek Universe’ was too constrained in its depth to allow creativity, while Manny Coto’s season 4 of ENT went and had an absolute field day with that same universe.
VOY tried to take us away from the Alpha/Beta quadrant, and by ep. 1, we were introduced to the Kazon, a ‘warrior race’ with head ridges and clans. Game Over.
Coto found a wealth of material in the same existing lore that Moore bitched about. PLUS, as you say, we have the entire Galaxy as well.
13: Yeah, that was me (not). I was 14 in 1973. I’d have gone to the convention in a heartbeat if I could’ve, though. I did go to one in the early 80’s. Nimoy, Koenig, and Doohan were there. I missed meeting Koenig, and the folks in Nimoy’s line said (I kid you not) that we were not supposed to talk to him, just hand over whatever we had to be signed and move on. Of course a lot of us did talk a little anyway! And Doohan was a totally sweetie…he made sure to talk to everybody, smiled, seemed happy to be there.
Given that the last two movies were a collection of things already seen in Trek, one can’t help but expect another retread.
Never saw this clip before. What a great look back. I was 14 in 1973 and it makes me feel old (lol) when I see posters on this site who weren’t born yet. Ah the good old days when it was all starting. Yes there are many great stories to be told,and I am looking forward to the future of Trek.
Thank you for the wonderful story about you and your brother.
These comments on this thread really hammer hown the fact that I am one of the youngest posters here. I wasn’t born until ’84.
in ’73 I was 10. Had seen some Trek but didn’t become a full-blown fan until a couple years later when it was on every day after school.
I’ve really enjoyed reading about everyone’s experiences! Truly captivating and fascinating!
I wonder, has anybody here ever witness a lunatic fan being thrown out or escorted away from the actors at a convention? Because there are always stories floating about a bunch of weirdos at conventions.
I’ve been to a few conventions myself, and everyone was cool and nice.
I even had a nice chat with Marc Alaimo once!
Try lifting with your legs, not your backs! ;-)
You spoke with Alaimo! Luck-eee!
Yeah, we discussed if Sisko was able to come back, so too would Dukat, since they were opposites to each other.
Listen to Nimoy describe Star Trek. Entertainment. Provocative. Uplifting. He’s said that about Star Trek many times.
Thanks for the great clip. The best part is Asimov’s analysis of Trek. The grandmaster is still missed! How I would love to have been at one of these early conventions! But I was born in 1973.
My first con was at the Statler Hilton in NYC in ’76; that one was HUGE! The whole cast except Nimoy, plus Asimov. The Hilton cons petered out over the next few years, but that 10-year anniversary one was great. Anyone have any video of that??
Ah, plus ca change, plus cest la meme chose.
What a wonderful blast from the past. I didn’t get to attend 1973’s Convention, but I did go to New York’s 1974 and 1975 Conventions so I saw those folks from that era.
@ 18 @ 22 In the vernacular of the time, Right On Alisa and Douglas!
The fan- based conventions were enchanting. Really. There was a lot of fan-based content like the art show, and things were really unpredictable.
I miss that, but The Talent is still The Talent. Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, bless their hearts, are still with us and they still come to conventions.
So continue to go and see them. The feeling in the room, especially at the smaller conventions like Vancouver and Parsippany, is still the same. In fact, it’s kind of relaxed now. I saw Nimoy at another venue in 1975 and he didn’t really connect with the audience that well. Seeing him in Parsippany in 2009, however, he was really funny, like George Burns. And he really did connect with the audience.
Also I got to see him last summer in Vancouver at his “Secret Selves” photography seminar. We had him in a small room for 90 minutes. He gave a talk for 15 minutes. Then we watched the film on the Secret Selves Project for 30 minutes and then there was a 45 Q and A. As there were less than two dozen people in the room, we got to ask him several questions and explore another side of the man. We talked about psychology, art, Jung, Carl Rogers, and lots of things not related to Star Trek. It was really deep and very moving.
Nichelle Nichols spoke at the 92nd Street Y in New York this winter about her iconic role as Lt. Uhura, as part of the Women of Television lecture.
I just saw Zachary Quinto in “Angels in America,” and I’ve seen both Nimoy and Patrick Stewart on stage in New York.
So if you have the opportunity to see them talk, or perform, or show their art these days. Just go. They are still awesome!
P.S. @ 27 AJ. I don’t understand why the Star Trek Convention is now held in a rather dismal industrial park hotel in Parsippany. It is so wrong and counter-productive!
I understand that booking a hotel in New York might be a very expensive proposition, but why hold it in a place that is only accessible to people with cars? The organizers should consider that they might have better attendance if they held the convention at other sites on the East Coast that city dwellers can get to, like Philadelphia (which has a huge convention center and lots of unsold hotel rooms) or Atlantic City.
Besides who wants to spend the weekend in an industrial park?
Hmmm, sounds like the makings of a great DS9 TV movie to me. Too bad the chances of that ever happening are razor thin.
Must’ve been great to have been there at ST fandom’s grassroots beginnings.
So much raw passion! These days, conventions and such have become so pre-packaged and commercialized that they’ve lost a lot of that old school heart and charm.
Wish it could be so again…
That last girl must have just emerged from her parents’ basement… truly an emotional experience!
Loved the whole video! I agree that Asimov’s statements should be mandatory viewing for anyone working on Trek in the future.
31. A J – “That same issue bugs me as well, especially as Ron Moore complained the ‘Star Trek Universe’ was too constrained in its depth to allow creativity, while Manny Coto’s season 4 of ENT went and had an absolute field day with that same universe.
VOY tried to take us away from the Alpha/Beta quadrant, and by ep. 1, we were introduced to the Kazon, a ‘warrior race’ with head ridges and clans. Game Over.
Coto found a wealth of material in the same existing lore that Moore bitched about. PLUS, as you say, we have the entire Galaxy as well.”
I completely agree with you about Voyager and the Kazon. The thing to remember about Ron Moore’s comments, is who was probably directing his words to. Sounds a bit like self-publicity about his involvement with BSG. Basically his writing is a reaction to 24th Century humanity and the characters an antithesis to all that. He’s saying that writing Gene Roddenberry humans were too much like a straight jacket. All the bad traits tend to be given to alien races on Star Trek, threatening to force us to decend to that level in order save the day. Back when Enterprise began, the promise was that the humans on the show would be “not quite as evolved”. Some of that was explored with uncomfortable attitudes held between some humans and vulcans. Then there’s Archer’s dillemma about placing the mission to save Earth, over the lives of his crew and his usual moral judgements. But I honestly couldn’t ever see humans the NX-01 crew behaving anywhere near as bad as some aboard the Galactica… not and belong in that universe anyway. The Mirror one, definitely!
48 (cont.) Basically, I don’t think Trek lore was Ron Moore’s beef with Star Trek. He’s a fan and so probably would loved to have fill in the blanks with a prequel show. Heck, he’s done that with his own creation… well, his and Glenn Larson’s. It would probably have taken a partnership with somebody else to reign in Starfleet characters, to prevent them from becoming completely unlikeable and the whole show a dystopia, where everybody is basically doomed. I liked how Manny Coto saw dozens of avenues left for Enterprise to keep it fresh (mostly plot driven admittedly) and not subvert it into something which was definitely not Star Trek. Ah, he should’ve been allowed to finish the 22nd Century off with a few more seasons…
Sulu looked like a chick with long hair lol LOVE IT