aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,
aprilhenry
aprilhenry

Mr. Spock and Coco Channel and me

According to the Writer's Almanac, It's the birthday of writer and producer Gene Roddenberry,born in El Paso, Texas (1921). In the early 1960s, he saw there were no quality science fiction series on TV, so he created Star Trek. The first episode debuted on September 8, 1966 on NBC. Though it didn't get great ratings and was nearly canceled, the show's supporters—now called "Trekkies"—helped keep the series going until 1969. Roddenberry said, "The funny thing is that everything is science fiction at one time or another."

You know that the show was a flop because Nimoy's first promotional trip was when he was Grand Marshall of Medford, Oregon's (approximate population at the time - 18,000) annual Pear Blossom Festival in 1967. StarTrek.com says, "It was the first sign that he'd finally made it. This idea was confirmed after the Pear Blossom Parade when Nimoy signed autographs for a crowd of fans so large officials had to 'rescue' him from the well-meaning autograph seekers."

I grew up in Medford, and my mom was seated next to Nimoy at the banquet. He came in his whole getup, ears and all, and only had a few bites of his steak. My mom asked if he was going to finish it and when he said "No," she forked it over onto her plate. I believe she may have picked it up and gnawed the meat off the bone. What can I say? She grew up poor.

It's also the birthday of fashion designer (Gabrielle) Coco Chanel, born in Saumur, France (1883). Along with the perfume Chanel No. 5, which came out in 1922, she introduced turtleneck sweaters, trench coats, costume jewelry, bell-bottom trousers, bobbed hair, and the "little black dress." Chanel said, "Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable."

In 1969, my aunt, Jeanne Arnold, was the second female lead in the Broadway musical, Coco, about Coco Chanel. The musical was kind of a flop. She also had a long-running part on The Guiding Light, and occasionally we would turn on the TV and see her weighing paper towels, or singing about TicTacs. We saw the show when it came to LA, and afterward we got to go backstage and meet Katherine Hepburn. Let's just say she didn't really want to meet some hicks from Medford. Afterward, we went out to eat pastries. Aunt Jean was doing the swim in her chair, while I was falling asleep in my navy skirt and best white knee socks. Aunt Jean really wanted to go dancing. Uncle Lee said he was tired. A few years later, they were divorced. But I remember her as the most wonderful aunt, sending us boxes of her old clothes, silk scares and silk shirts and Christian Dior belts.



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Tags: coco chanel, gene roddenberry, leonard nimoy
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