History Is Written By The Victors: Bjo Trimble talks about saving Star Trek
|Title:||History Is Written By The Victors: Bjo Trimble talks about saving Star Trek|
|Date(s):||May 10, 2003|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|External Links:||History Is Written By The Victors, Archived version|
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History Is Written By The Victors: Bjo Trimble talks about saving Star Trek is an article by Michael Hinman for "Airlock Alpha."
Star Trek is an amazing phenomenon, and many people -- including creator Gene Roddenberry -- is given credit for the work. But two people who often are left off the lists of those responsible for the success of the series are probably two of the most important people of all: John and Bjo Trimble. Before there was the Internet. Before there were fan campaigns. Before there was even Star Trek, there was the Trimbles. And when Star Trek needed help in its darkest hours in 1967, John and Bjo (pronounced bee-joe) were there ... and they made history.
After the first cancellation threat from the first season, writers like Harlan Ellison lobbied NBC to keep the show on the air. But Bjo realized it would take more than just the writers banding together. They needed to have an outcry from the fans, and she and John decided to grab the bull by the horns, and find some unconventional means to get NBC's attention. And they did. "There have been claims that Gene paid me, or that he invented (the campaign)," Bjo said. "But what really happened here is that Gene had said that when they were all sitting around talking about (the cancellation), if there was only a way to reach the fans and tell them. A couple days later, John and I had this idea, and we contacted Gene to ask if he had thrown in the towel yet. They hadn't, and we decided to get working on our campaign to save 'Star Trek.'"
To make the effort a complete fan effort, Bjo said they had to keep Roddenberry as far away as possible, something that was difficult for the show's creator -- who liked to be in control of things he was passionate about -- to do.
"It just drove him crazy that he couldn't do anything on the campaign," Bjo said. "He so wanted to get involved. He was such a wonderful, wonderful person."Roddenberry stayed away from the meetings, but he would occassionally surprise the Trimbles and their campaign committee with meat trays that would arrive at the house for their meetings, and Roddenberry himself chipped in $100 for postage in the final round of mailings.
But organizing such a campaign wasn't as easy in the late 1960s as it is today. There were no computers (at least not any that would fit into a single room), no organized Star Trek fan clubs, no Internet mail groups. In fact, when the Trimbles visited the Paramount mailroom to see if they could get addresses from fan mail, they discovered more than 40 large stacks of mail to the show, unopened and unanswered.
The campaign was a success, so much, in fact, that NBC to this day still won't give an exact number of phone calls and letters they received as a result of the campaign, and the network even came in following the conclusion of one "Star Trek" episode to announce that the show would be returning for a third season, something that also had never been done before.
Not only did Bjo and John suddenly become fan favorites, but they had become even closer to Roddenberry, who eventually offered the couple a job reading and responding to Star Trek's fan mail.
Bjo said that outside of the "Save Star Trek" fan campaign, this was one of the most rewarding jobs she ever got to do. Her and John would read through hundreds of letters to the show, and after a short time it would become clear who was getting the most letters of everyone else. And no, it wasn't Shatner or Nimoy.
"The Enterprise got an enormous amount of fan mail," Bjo said. "You get the geeky little kids who had ambitions to be an engineer, but they wouldn't write to Scotty. They would direct their questions straight to the Enterprise."
Many fans would ask for autographed pictures from the ship, so Bjo would grab publicity stills of the NCC-1701, sign it, and send it off."If you ever see an autographed picture of the U.S.S. Enterprise, chances are, I'm the one who signed it," Bjo said.