THIRTY YEARS AGO TODAY, Eugene Wesley Roddenberry passed at the age of 70, after suffering one final stroke while arriving at his doctor’s office.
He was yet another visionary who inspired millions—including more creators, more inspired fans, and yes even more commerce — all in the same of Star Trek. And all this, even as he led an imperfect life and eventually died of the excesses of alcohol and drugs that weakened his mind and body.
His passing came as a shock to fans and the world at large, early in TNG’s 5th season and only four months after his namesake building at Paramount Pictures was dedicated with “both” Star Trek casts and crews on hand. He lived just long enough to see the 25th anniversary hoopla for his creation, where fans in turn got used to seeing him attending with the use of a wheelchair.
But only his inner circle were aware of how unwell, how fleeting his good days and even good moments were becoming. Fans and media alike speculated how the series would carry on without him, but it was a little known fact that he has been out of the day-to-day operations, even writing, since Season 3. His memorial a week later would be overflowing with 300 fans and scores of friends alike a week later at Forrest Lawn; fittingly, his ashes would later fly in space. And widow Majel unexpectedly took up the gauntlet to carry on his campaigns and causes for over 15 years, until she passed— and passed the Roddenberry legacy to their son Rod.
I remember where I was today, 30 years ago, and how I got the the news in this post.
How about you?
This photo was one the larger images among photos and quotes decorating the main hall this year at Star Trek Las Vegas to help mark Gene’s 100th birthday celebration, and spark reflection on his life and legacy. It’s quintessential 70s Gene, well into the “guruification” college tours that cemented his philosopher’s legacy… even as his producer’s legacy wasn’t paying the mortgage. Yet.