Star Trek Lives! (convention)/1976

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Star Trek Lives! (convention) · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976

Star Trek Lives! 1976 was held February 12-16 at the Commodore Hotel in New York City.

cover of the 1976 64-page program book

Guests of Honor

  • Isaac Asimov
  • Majel Barrett
  • Hal Clement
  • James Doohan
  • David Gerrold
  • DeForest Kelley
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • George Takei
  • Gene Roddenberry
  • William Ware Theiss
  • Howard Weinstein

Con Staff

Main:

  • Dana L.F. Anderson: Fanzine/Fan Club Listing, Fanzine and Book Exhibit, Fashion Show, Masquerade
  • Thom Anderson: Chairman
  • Allan Asherman: Master of Ceremonies
  • Claire Eddy: Staff (Helpers) Directory
  • Stu Grossman: Dealers' Room Coordinator, Mail Distribution, Film Committee
  • Robert and Sondra Harris: Legal Counsel
  • Stuart C. Hellinger: Director of Security, Hotel Liaison
  • Devra Michele Langsam: Art Show Director, Treasurer/Recording Secretary
  • Elyse S. Rosenstein: Director of Programming, Guest Liaison, Director of Information and Advertising, Trivia Contest
  • Steven J. Rosenstein: Director of Operations, Printing & Publishing Design, Communications
  • David Simmons: Assistant Chairman
  • Barbara Wenk: Art Show, "Trek-A-Star," Song Contest and Songfest
  • Joan Winston: Vice Chairman, Director of Films and Press, Press Liaison
  • Ben Yalow: Photographer
  • Joyce Yasner: Director of Registration

Assistants:

  • Ruth Bollerud, Diane Duane (Art Show)
  • Gennie Curcio, Pat O'Neill, Manuel Mourino (Security)
  • Alina Chu (Convention Headquarters)
  • Linda Deneroff, Carol McFelley (Programming)
  • Robert Domitz (Convention Operations)
  • Lise Eisnberg, Karina Girsdanski, Cheryl McDaniels (General)
  • Jon Estren, Jeremy Paulson, Jim Zito (Dealers' Room)
  • Regina Gottesman (Information Desk)
  • Rosemarie Krist (Helpers)
  • Ellen Schlackman (Press Room)
  • Lee Smoire (Registration)
  • Jill Wallach (Convention Suite)
  • Michael Weisel (Films)

Tidbits and Anecdotes

The program book notes that "The entire proceedings of the 1976 Star Trek Convention are the property of "Tellurian Enterprises, Inc." Any tapes, films, and/or photographs taken at the 1976 Star Trek Convention are for your own personal enjoyment, and shall not be sold, licensed, or otherwise distributed without the express written permission of "Tellurian Enterprises, Inc." -- "Star Trek Associates" is later noted to be a division of "Tellurian Enterprises, Inc."

The Program Book

The program contains 65 pages.

  • short guest bios and photos
  • ads for Trekish things like books and cons
  • many publicity stills from the show
  • an essay by Elyse and Steven Rosenstein called "The End of the Five Year Mission..."
  • many fan club and club zine listings
  • acknowledgments
  • con staff
  • it contains no programming; programing was in the pocket program

Pocket Program Book

Essay from the Program Book

THE END OF THE FIVE YEAR MISSION.... by Elyse & Steven Rosenstein

Back in 1971 we had an idea - we thought we'd run a special kind of science fiction convention - one dedicated to one of the few really good SF television programs, STAR TREK. It seemed like a good idea, even if many people thought we were crazy. After all, the stars were in California and we were in New York. So, they laughed. That is, until we broke all records. Our small convention for several hundred turned into a small convention for several thousand! The very first STAR TREK Convention, held at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in New York City, January 21-23, 1972, had an attendance of 3500 - almost double that of the largest SF con held at that time.

Since then, STAR TREK conventions have sprung up all over the country (and abroad), following our lead. These conventions have reached national prominence thanks to the press and major media. Throughout all the commotion. The New York STAR TREK Convention, has always maintained the highest level of quality possible (its organizers sometimes going into hock to do so). This convention, in 1976, is The Fifth Annual STAR TREK Convention'.

When Captain Kirk was given command of the Enterprise, he was assigned a five-year mission. Unfortunately, this mission was aborted after only three years. We've been luckier.

With this convention comes the end of The STAR TREK Convention in New York - the end of our five-year mission. Should we decide to do something in the future, we'll let you know. You'll recognize us by our name and our symbol, accept no substitutes! We, the Committee, would like to thank you, the fans, for five, very wonderful years. May you live long & prosper.

STAR TREK ASSOCIATES, a div. of TELLURIAN ENTERPRISES, INC.

Badges, Flyers, and Other Ephemera

Programming

Links to Photos and Videos

Articles and Further Reading

In the science fiction world of “Star Trek,” earthly divisions are a thing of the past. But promoters of the cult that has enveloped the television series, who live in the world of competition, seem to be having some trouble living up to the brotherhood ideal that the program fosters.

The Star Trek convention that opens at the Commodore Hotel today is the third here in a month, and perhaps the 20th in the country in the last year. There is an industry churning out Star Trek memorabilia. There are dozens of books, and Paramount is planning a film.

The cult, it seems, is as strong as ever. But so too are the words that some of the rival promoters have for one another after two years of grand‐jury hearings, lawsuits, countersuits, settlements out of court and competing conventions.

To Joan Winston, one of the organizers of the convention that opens today, Albert Schuster is a man who is “interested only in making money.” Mr. Schuster, promoter of a rival convention here last month that lost money, considers Miss Winston and her collaborators “childishly naive.”

If the two agree on anything, it is that Lisa Boynton of Chicago, promoter of yet another convention, which drew more than 20,000 people to the New York Hilton Hotel, was an out‐and‐out interloper. Her convention came two weeks after Mr. Schuster's, which drew only 4,000. “She just came in, raped and pillaged, then left,” said Miss Winston.

“She's strictly a businesswoman, out for the buck,” said Mr. Schuster, who believes that Miss Boynton's advertising “confused” thousands of “Trekkies”—acolytes of the cult—into patronizing her convention rather than his.

“She just about buried me,” he said.

Once upon a time, Mr. Schuster and Miss Winston were on the same team. Together with about a dozen other New Yorkers, they mounted the International Star Trek convention here in 1972, the first of its kind. The organizers planned for 500 people, and got 3,000.

It was not the birth of the cult. That had been growing since 1969, when the series was dropped by network television and went into reruns, which can still be seen on dozens of stations across the country. But it was the first solid evidence that: Star Trek frenzy could be, turned to gold.

The same team followed up with conventions in 1973 and 1974, before Mr. Schuster and the others split asunder. Accounts of the dispute vary, but the essence of it seems to have been that Mr. Schuster, an entrepreneur, wanted, to make the convention more commercial than his collaborators would allow.

Miss Winston, manager of the contracts department at the American Broadcasting Companies’ headquarters here, proclaims herself a “Trekkie.” To her, the conventions are a means of propagating the Star Trek “message”—one of a future when life on earth will be peaceful, and multinational crews travel through space in search of other forms of life.

To Mr. Schuster, who lives in Hackensack, N. J., “there is no such thing as altruism.” It is fine, he said, if the conventions inspire their patrons, but the principal purpose must be “to exploit the series commercially.” Besides, he added, while some of the Star Trek programs were good, many others were “pure tripe, utter bunk, complete garbage.”

A Plethora of Suits

When Mr. Schuster parted company with the others after the 1974 convention, he said, he took with him some $6,000 from the convention bank account. This resulted in a barrage of suits that have still not ended. In the meantime, he has continued to organize a convention of his own here, as well as others in Philadelphia and Washington.

The five‐day convention at the Commodore, which advertises itself as “the real one,” will follow the pattern of the others. Some of Star Trek's principal actors will be there for discussions, and there will be a dealers’ room where enthusiasts can buy everything from Star Trek T‐shirts to jewelry. The 6,000 tickets, at $20.60 for all five days, are sold out.

And where will Mr. Schuster be? Right there, in his rivals’ dealers’ room, purveying his Star Trek wares.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I don't have any choice. Since my own debacle last month, I have to find Trekkies wherever I can.” [1]

Con Reports

The 1976 con was almost the end of more than our five year mission.

Since Lincoln's birthday fell on the Thursday just prior to the con, it was decided, in a moment of midwinter madness, to make it a five day convention. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and the never-to-be- forgotten Monday. Oy.

We also decided that the entire membership would be in advance. That meant no tickets would be sold during the convention. This was the first time something like this was tried. It was successful despite the fact that there were two other conventions in New York City just weeks prior to ours.

The [convention] at the Hilton Hotel received an enormous amount of press coverage, much of it unfavorable because of over-crowding. Because of this, the Attorney General's office started to investigate our convention. When they found out that we had advertised from the beginning that our con was to be limited to only 6,000, the investigation was dropped.

The press came to our con and almost all of them commented on the difference in atmosphere. "You can almost feel the good vibes from wall to wall. [2]
The 1976 STAR TREK Convention lasted five days, but for technical reasons, David, Dan, Jim, John, and I arrived on the second day (the 13th of February, 1976 (Friday!)) after a mad night of collating, stapling, and generally making a mess of our second issue. On the train, I got stuck with THE BOX, which contained all our copies of The Prime Directive (issues one and two); and which, by the end of the ride, was falling apart from the weight.

However, we managed to get to the Commodore Hotel without further incident, where we proceeded to go through the time-honored hassle of registering. We had previously purchased 1/3 of a dealer's table for THE FEDERATION, and we proceeded to go to Dealer's Central to inquire about it. There David's and my registrations were converted to the pink and purple Dealer’s registrations.

We had been located in the central third of a table tucked relatively behind a curtain in a room adjacent to the main one (Across from Al Schuster, no less!). A fanzine called IDIC was to our right, while UNISTAR, a New York S.T.A.R. Chapter was on the other side. (NOTE-- Jeffrey Mandel, who runs UNISTAR, publishes great freighter blueprints (from "The Pirates of Orion").) UNISTAR was in part a reason for our success. After scanning the Updated Pocket Program (blue, not white!! ), we decided to go our own ways. I got stuck with the dealer's table for a short while. David and Dan got "PRESS" stamped on their cards. This allowed them to use the press room, where some of the transcripts in this issue came from.

After seeing the stars of the day (I have unfortunately lost the copy of the Pocket Program, so I can't tell you who we saw when and where.), David, Jim, and I went to stay with David's relatives in New York City.

I will not go through each day, to say that they were all marvelous is sufficient. It was a very well-run con, very well run. It featured Shatner, Kelly, Dohaan, Gerrold, Asimov, THE BIRD, Majel, Hal Clement, and others. It was nearly impossible to see all of them, but we tried, and nearly succeeded. Roddenberry discussed The Movie and possible scripts he had chucked away. Jimmy Dohaan talked a lot and sang a little.

A really superb idea of the convention was the Songfest and "The HHS Trek-A-Star", held on Saturday night. The Songfest was comprised of songs with new STAR-TREK-related lyrics such, as "The Battle-Hymn of the Helpers" sung to the tune "The Battle-Hymn of the Republic" (USS Republic?) and "Starfleet Life" to the tune of "Army Life".

"HHS Trek-A-Star" was a satire of Gilbert & Sullivan “HMS Pinafore", which is really hilarious. A high-point of the convention. The Convention Art Show was rather good, also.

One of the regrets I have is that the films, were not shown according to schedule. Another is slight overcrowding.

Well, by the time, we had to leave, we'd blown most of our cash on junk from the Dealer’s rooms , books from the SF Shop and the Federation Trading Post. All-in all, it was a very pleasant experience.

However, it will never happen, again. The '76 STC was the last one to be held by the con committee. They were the people who had the original STAR TREK Convention. After five years of great conventions they have decided to stop. Their reason? They say they have served their purpose – to bring STAR TREK fandom together, and to spread the word. They are also tired of getting ulcers. It's a pity because these were the first and the best STAR TREK Conventions to ever be held. I hope in the future, they decide to start again, because it's worth it. Really. [3]
Not a whole lot happened at TSTC 5 that never happens at any other supercon; in fact, there was less: fewer stars, fewer crowds, shorter lines, just as many dealers though. Because of this... the con was more friendly, more relaxed. There were more room parties, because fen could make contact in the lessoned mob. Gofers were not run as ragged and hence came nowhere to their collective breaking point. Things ran on time. David Gerrold was human. And a lot of other unexpected things. I suppose the economics, and the Economy, did in the ST con, more than any other cause. The concom never did make any money on any of the cons -- nobody ever does on supercons, not once all the bills are in. The cost of running a con has increased incredibly; the actors, the film distributors, the hotel managers, all figure they want a piece of the con pie, and they charge accordingly. The result is ever larger membership fees and ever more burgeoning attendance counts to pay for the whole schmear. If a fan wants to hold a con these days, she has a choice between a circus and her closet. It's hard to hold attendance 'down' to 5000. The 3rd NY Con went to 17,000, remember? The 4th would have been more than its 8000, save that attendance was limited and that ISTC ran a month before... And so all things come to an end. Some of the best cons are fannish history. Only a few faded programs, an illegible autograph (Eugene who?), a tear-stained hotel bill remain. And some of the landmarks are disappearing. The Commodore, bane of hu-fanity, has been razed. No more will ash trays and water bombs plummet down its roof. With the destruction of the twelfth floor goes the 30-minute wait to change elevators. Lost are the haunts of the leering pilots and Greek-speaking stewardi, the computer reservation system that charged eight days in the bridal suite to your account, the blue plastic lobby furniture. No more will Mr. Gerrold's dulcet voice selling original xeroxed scripts boom over the whining PA system, no more will Devra Langsam trip over curled carpets, no more will Ike Asimov drool over nubile, young trekkies, no more will the committee crud be caught from the drinking water. It is the End of an Era. [4]
Thanks to Joel Davis for pinch-hitting — twice! — first opening and masterminding the STW table due to Mary Ellen Flynn's illness and late arrival, and then running the STW meeting due to Shirley Maiewski's illness and early departure. There were a few unfortunate occurrences — a fan was robbed at knife-point in her hotel room, and a dealer was tied up, beaten, and robbed in her hotel suite — but there was no doubt that this was again THE East coast fan con. It is the only Con attended by The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself besides Equicon in Los Angeles on a regular basis, with nearly everyone else as guests as well: Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Nichelle Nichols, GeorgeI Takei, James Doohan, David Gerrold, Isaac Asimov, Hal Clement, William Ware Theiss, and also DeForest Kelley — there wouldn't be much more a fan could ask! One big laugh occurred during a panel called "Women on the Enterprise" by Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett: a fan asked "Mrs. Roddenberry, if Christine Chapel were to 'get in trouble', would you let your son play Spock, Junior?" and for a few moments there was dead silence until simultaneously Majel said "What??!" and Nichelle burst out laughing. Then they both explained "You see what women's lib has done — for a minute there, we didn't know what you meant by 'get in trouble'!! [5]

The final Committee con was bittersweet on several levels, but it was also knocked flat by the virulent Victoria flu, which reduced the twenty-four person costume show to seven and incapacitated the majority of The Committee. Anyone in the lower ranks with experience was pressed into service, myself included, and it was a tremendous amount of fun. Anne Meara, then starring in CBS’s Kate McShane series, made a surprise appearance since she was a huge fan. She brought along her children, Amy and Ben. Young Ben Stiller was such a fan that he later wound up naming his company Red Shirt Productions.

The after-con Dead Dog Party was especially poignant as people came to the realization an era was ending. The Roddenberrys, Takei, and other guests stopped in to pay their respects and thank the assembled staff for making the effort. Roddenberry, in particular, was welcomed back with a singing of “Glory Glory Roddenberry” to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that had him blushing. Months later, there was a thank you party as The Committee acknowledged the hard efforts that everyone had spent years investing in the cons. [6]

References

  1. "Earthly Rivalries Have “Star Trek” Promoters in Orbit," by John F. Burns, February 12, 1976, "New York Times"
  2. One year later, by organizer Joan Winston from her 1977 essay So you want to have a "Star Trek" convention
  3. by the editor of The Prime Directive in Volume 2, no 2
  4. from The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter #12
  5. from A Piece of the Action #37
  6. The Early Days of Star Trek Conventions; archive link, Robert Greenberger, unknown date