Now this story is rather near and dear to my heart and I know I have shared it a number of times. I know on a few podcasts and I know I wrote a rather water down telling of it for Wizard World Comic Con, where this event took place.
So here is the history behind this story, that lead to me calling Shatner old and Shartner getting me into trouble with my Dad. Lets rewind to the date June 11, 1968 at Franklin Reservoir right above Los Angeles. My Grandpa was working Forrest Service at the time and helped maintain production and the security for the filming areas. The episode that was being filmed was Star Trek (TOS): The Paradise Syndrome. My Grandpa brought my Dad along over the time of the shot and he got to meet the cast & crew.
The plot of this episode follows Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down into an idyllic location next to a lake on the planet Amerind, reminiscent of the American Pacific Coast. Kirk remarks on the “duplication” of the planet’s evolution as compared to Earth, while McCoy notes the beauty of the flora. They come upon an obelisk, the Obelisk, covered with unknown alien symbols. Spock notes that the obelisk is “an alien metal of some kind, an alloy resistant to probe.” Even the age is beyond the tricorder’s ability to date. Spock examines the symbols but can offer no insight into their meaning. He speculates that to build such a monument would require a civilization equal to or beyond the Federation’s ability. McCoy brands the planet “an enigma.”
The trio only has thirty minutes to explore the surface before leaving the planet. They return to the lake and look across at a village which houses an indigenous, Native American-like tribe that is “a mixture of Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware” characteristics, according to Spock. Kirk feels it is similar to discovering a mythic lost society like Atlantis or Shangri-La. McCoy suggests contacting the natives to warn them, but is discouraged by Spock. An asteroid is on a direct course towards the planet. The thirty minute restriction on exploration was to allow them to return to the ship in time to make the journey to a deflection point. As the time on the planet draws to a close, they return to the obelisk. On the way, Kirk remarks on the simplicity of life for the natives. McCoy diagnoses him with Tahiti Syndrome. Before the landing party returns to the USS Enterprise, Kirk climbs up onto the platform at the base of the obelisk and flips open his communicator. A trap door slides open and drops Kirk into a chamber. He falls down some stairs and begins to pull himself up, accidentally leaning onto a control panel. As he regains his footing, energy tendrils strike out from the panel, immobilizing him and finally leaving him slumped across the controls.
I remember some of the stories that my Dad would tell me about this period in time. Said everyone was beyond nice and super lay back. One story he told me was when he met Deforest Kelly for the first time. While my Dad was getting an autograph from Kelly, he asked what his name was. Told him DeForrest and it was quickly followed with, “They named you that too!? Poor bastard.”. For the rest of the production, they would make jokes about their names and would have later run ins with each other.
Now we fast forward to about 2003 in Ventura California. My Dad gave me his autographs from Star Trek, plus number of other ones from John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, etc. So naturally I put them all in a save place. Later in 2008 I would move back to Oregon and I converted my garage into a art studio/nerd den. I had them on the walls for everyone to see. It was around this time I was a single parent and working evenings. So I would hire babysitters. One day, my normal sitter could not make and said her friend would cover for her. It wasn’t till after a few days I noticed that my Shatner, Kelly and Nimoy were missing.
All I had were the pictures of my Dad and the cast. So I went through everything in the house and even called up the sitter to see if she can get a hold of her friend or at least seen them. After an hour or so, I get a call back saying that they haven’t seen them and didn’t know where they were… So now I’m pissed that some how are now missing and someone is lying about it. I didn’t have the heart to tell about my Dad about this and manage to keep it hidden from him for a number for years. So I made it a mission to rebuild my dad’s collection, no matter the cost. Fast forward a few months and some how while I was clean things up in the garage. I found the DeForest Kelly autograph… So with some renewed hope I kept digging and clean thing. I did find the paper that Nimoy signed, but it was only the part that said “Greetings Spock”. Still couldn’t find the actual autograph and Shanter was lost.
So I kept my search going till February 27, 2015 and that is when Nimoy passed away. Sadly now everyone is selling and jacking up the prices on his autographs. Now I have no way to ever meet him, I look towards Shatner to help at least finish this quest. Now fast forward to February 22, 2016 at Wizard World Comic Con in Portland Oregon. While working at this Comic Con, I was able to meet William Shatner. I should note a few days before, my Dad had a heart attack. While I was going to cancel everything and drive down to California where he was. He talked me out of it, said that he feels okay and that he’ll be in surgery for the next few days. So I stayed and finished my work and made plans to drive down and see him after that weekend.
So here I am waiting to see Shatner and nervous beyond all belief. I had both my kids with me at this event as well and they wanted to meet Captain Kirk. As we walk to Shatner, we introduce ourselves and I start telling him about how he met my Father and Grandpa awhile back in the 60s. He lit up and said that he remembers that episode and meeting my family. He then looked down and ask who we have here? I had Jackson and Lilly introduce themselves and told him that he now had met four generations of my family. Realizing that I just called him old I tried to backtrack a bit. After a few jokes about age and being rather embarrass, I told him about the stolen/lost autographs and what I was trying to do in rebuilding the collection. He then asked about my Dad and how he was doing, I told him that he just recently had a heart attack and is in recovery. He then asked if he was able to talk with him… Shocked I said I will call and see.
My Dad picked up the phone and I told him that someone wanted to talk with him. Giving the phone to Shatner. “Is this Jason’s Father? This is William Shanter.”. All I can hear over the was a laugh and “shut up”. They talked for a number of minutes.. Now I would like to mention here that I didn’t tell Shatner about my Dad not knowing I lost the autographs. Because why would I think that shatner would ever bring it up or let alone tell my Dad. Nope… My dumbass stood there in horror as Shatner told him why I was there and what I was trying to do. Then I hear, “Oh, you didn’t know about that?”. Shatner looks at me and says ,”Oops.” They say their goodbyes and gives me the phone. “Your Father wants to talk with you.”…. Great, now I’m in trouble.
On the phone with my Dad said while this was cool and awesome on what I was trying to do. We will talk later about the autographs and pictures. Great… After I hung up, Shatner said sorry, not sorry with a smile. He signed my picture and we all said goodbye… Now sadly on February 27, 2016 my Dad passed away. We never got to have that talk. It’s also odd that he died on the same day as Nimoy, one year apart. How everything came full circle with Star Trek. So currently I am still missing Nimoy’s autograph and still hunting for one. While I was moving I found Shatner’s original autograph stuck to the bottom of an art box. Which makes this whole thing is odd. Because they were all hanging on the wall and then thrown everywhere. Something happened to them and I may never know what happened. But it did cause a great story and quest line that is still kinda open. I still need to find my Spock.