Susan Sackett

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Name: Susan Sackett
Fandoms: Star Trek
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Susan Sackett is a Star Trek fan who was also Gene Roddenberry's personal assistant for seventeen years, beginning in 1974.

She was a conduit between fans and TPTB, providing fans with information, advice, assistance in their visits to sets, and more. In this role, she also appeared at cons as a guest of honor.

As Roddenberry's spokesperson, she wrote LoCs to Interstat and Halkan Council and other fan publications. These letters had comments that sometimes appeared to be a combination of Sackett's strong personal views mixed with official comments from Roddenberry. Some examples are Sackett's comments on slash fanworks.

Sacket wrote a number of non-fiction, official Star Trek books, one of which was called "Inside Trek" subtitled "My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry."

Sackett Was Very Aware of Fanzines

Sackett knew about fanzines, both because she hung out with fans at cons and elsewhere, and because fanworks were actively sent to Roddenberry.

Early on, Sackett gave at least on fan the impression that her access was sparse. From a fan, Kitty Canterbury, in Halkan Council #19 (June 1976):

...I chaired a one-day con last fall, and one of my guests as Gene Roddenberry's secretary. Susan Sackett. She's young, appealing, energetic, and very committed to ST and her boss. After the con I wrote her, sent her news of my club Puget Sound Star Trekkers), occasionally talked on the phone and got news of the movie... Susan edits the Lincoln Enterprises newsletter - Star Trektennial News, has gone to other cons since mine, and is just as much a fan as a secretary. Okay. Well, I talked to her after Harlan Ellison was on Snyder's Tomorrow show, and she said, "I wish I knew what Harlan had said, we've gotten all kinds of letters about that show," so I lent her my tape. Now why did I have to send her my personal copy? Why didn't she get her own from ABC or Tom Snyder? After all, it was about ST, and Gene Roddenberry is Star Trek. Why wasn't he automatically sent his own copy? The next time I talked to Susan, I asked her just what kinds of ST publications, directories, newsletters, clippings, fanzines, articles, and so forth she did have. "Practically nothing," she said. And went on to explain that although she received a salary from Paramount and the office rent was paid, that Gene got no salary as yet and there certainly was no sort of budget for ST publications, products, or any other thing that was a spin-off from Roddenberry's dream... I can only imagine that this condition exists because of omission through ignorance. Anything that looks suspiciously like a manuscript because of the size of the envelope probably would get by with a letterhead in the corner, or the title of the publication and "complimentary copy" on the front. Susan Sackett, Star Trek Paramount Studios, 5451 Marathon St., Hollywood CA 90038.

This statement is contradicted almost immediately by Sackett:

Thank you for the copies of The Halkan Council. I have looked them over, and especially the letter that Kitty Canterbury wrote, and enjoyed it very much. She said some nice things about me. I'm not sure where she got the impression that we don't receive fanzines in our office, but we've got quite a few. In fact, I have a whole filing cabinet full of them. Most of them Gene just has time to glance at since he is so busy. Good luck with your future issue. I'm sure they will be something to look forward to. [1]

Sackett Addressed the Topic of Same Sex Fan Stories

In the August 1978 issue of Interstat, Sackett wrote about same sex fanworks:

It is my understanding that there exist, somewhere in fandom, fanzines with subtly and even openly portray a homosexual relationship between Kirk and Spock. No one who has written one has ever had the courage to send one to Gene Roddenberry's office. What surprises me is that no one has ever mentioned why these two apparently straight-appearing characters should be the only ones on board in this kind of relationship. Why, who knows who we might have fraternizing aboard the Enterprise. How about Sulu and Chekov? They sit together and see a lot of each other, you know. Or how about Uhura and Chapel? With Spock in heat for anyone (hopefully Chapel) every seven years, and and with no black dudes in sight for Uhura, what's to stop them from digging each other? Bones and Scotty? That leaves Yeoman Rand. YeoMAN. Get it? Even she's not too sure of her straightness. At last we know why there's such good birth control on the Enterprise. We already had the Gay 90's. This decade will probably go down in history as the Gay 70's -- and it has done considerable good in helping to at last recognize gays and to work for their liberation. They just weren't created as gay characters. Why try to change them?... Good Star Trek Fan literature should be accurately be BASED ON STAR TREK. It's only logical. These comments reflect my personal opinion, not necessarily that of Gene Roddenberry or the studio. [2] [3]

In September 1978, a fan wrote of a letter Sackett sent to a UK fan club president, one that commented on the debate about the acceptability of including K/S fiction in zines:

Some members have stated positively that they do not want to read any story in which either Kirk or Spock is stated to have homosexual leanings; or indeed any of the main characters, and on this subject Susan Sackett, assistant to Gene Roddenberry, stated in a letter to Janet dated February 27th - 'Gene and the executives at Paramount feel that this is harmful to the STAR TREK concept, since this was never the intention in creating the series.' [4]

The Fine Line Between Official Spokesperson and Fan

Sackett moved in fan circles both as Roddenberry spokesperson, as well as an "ordinary fan."

These two things sometimes collided, both socially and professionally.

For one example, see Sackett and Same Sex Fanworks.

In 1981, a fan wrote a letter of complaint to Interstat about a chain letter that had been circulating, one which Sackett, Kay Brown and some other BNF fans were involved in. Sackett's somewhat disingenuous response illustrated the fine line between fannish involvement with TPTB and the bleed-over

Some people see a connection to STAR TREK with everything in their lives. I don't. Most people don't. My job has something to do with STAR TREK. But when I go home, I water my garden, read TIME Magazine, feed the dogs, go out on dates, eat dinner, read a good biography, watch a movie, visit my friends, write letters to my friends, etc. I do not live, breathe, eat and think STAR TREK. I am an average person doing average things in my life. So much for Hollywood glamour. At no time have I ever taken advantage of STAR TREK fandom, nor do I ever intend to do so. The chain letter was mailed with my home address on it; I am very protective of my home and privacy and would not knowingly release this to Trek fandom-at-large. The chain letter was a frivolous lark, a chance for me and some of my friends to maybe get a few bucks. A very few bucks have been received, and some of this I donated to the Welcommittee. The other few dollars I kept for my costs. If this is upsetting to some people, then I apologize for any offense caused you. [5]

In 1988, a fan wrote a letter to Interstat #131/132 and expressed an opinion about a casting change she'd heard about:

I heard that Diana Muldaur has been cast as the new doctor, and I was very pleased at the news. She is an excellent actress, and is already well-known and loved in Trek fandom. But then I heard that instead of replacing Crusher, she is going to be Crusher. This would be a grave mistake. As has been proved with Saavik, you can't just substitute a different actress for the one who originated the character. It doesn't work, and it's not fair to the actress.

Another disturbing rumor is that Geordi will no longer wear the VISOR. Does this mean he is no longer blind? How can that be, when it has always been implied that his condition is permanent and irreversible? And if he is still blind, how is he going to function without a prosthesis?

One more WorldCon rumor: I heard that Gene Roddenberry refuses to hire established science fiction writers to do scripts because he says they are "too old to write for Star Trek".

Is he conveniently ignoring the fact that he himself, in his late sixties, has penned a number of scripts? ST:TNG is sticking with its own stable of writers, thus denying us the opportunity to see outstanding stories like the original episodes written by Sturgeon, Bloch, Spinrad, and Ellison. Gene Roddenberry used to be the epitome of open-mindedness, but now he seems so obsessed with controlling every aspect of Star Trek that we won't tolerate opinions that differ from his own. He invented IDIC, and now he's forgotten it.

Sackett replied with a LONG letter in Interstat #133 and scolded this fan for her opinion. Sackett's startling personal reply was made on official letterhead of Paramount, which legitimized her statement:

letter to Interstat by Susan Sackett
Dear Teri: I think you know by now that it is our policy not to get involved with fanzines and fan forums such as yours, although from time to time I have felt it is necessary to set the record straight. Such is the case now. I was deeply disturbed by the letter from Debbie Gilbert in the Sept./Oct. '88 issue of INTERSTAT. Naturally, I am not blaming you as editor for printing it. I do, however, find fault with Debbie for what amounts to nearly a printed page of rumors, which she herself admits are just that, and her reactions to these rumors, rather than questioning the validity of these hearsays. Firstly, Diana Muldaur was never considered for a replacement in the role of Crusher. Where do such ideas originate? For several months now we have been disseminating responses to queries on this subject. One had only to call or write our office for the truth. But more distressing than that is her statement: "I heard that Gene Roddenberry refuses to hire established science fiction writers to do scripts because he says that they are 'too old to write for Star Trek'". She then takes this statement for a truth and goes on to lambaste Mr. Roddenberry as old, intolerant, closed-minded, having forgotten IDIC, and so on. This is merely GUILT BY RUMOR and she should be ashamed for falling into such a trap, obviously set by someone with an axe to grind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Roddenberry would welcome with open arms any good script from any established writer. (Of the four she mentioned in her letter, Mr. Sturgeon is deceased, Mssrs. Block and Spinrad haven't approached us, and Mr. Ellison & Mr. Roddenberry have always been colleagues and we would be happy to entertain his ideas.) Suggestion: Anyone hearing "disturbing rumors" is welcome to write to our office for clarification, or spend a buck and call the STAR TREK office at (213) 468-4747. But don't ask that your personal diatribes be printed as if they were the truth. People have a tendency to believe anything they read in print. Use your intelligence, Debbie. (I know you, like myself, are a member of MENSA.) The perpetuation of falsehoods can only serve to hurt people, and I can't imagine you would wish to do that.

Sackett as a Bringer of Pain and Delight

Sackett attended many cons (with slideshows and blooper reels in tow.

She was one of the biggest sources of "inside information" for fans who wanted to know about Star Trek's future plans, such as movies and television shows.

Sackett was sometimes the source of rumors, both true and untrue. In 1981, Harve Bennett suggested that it was Sackett who started the rumor about Spock dying in The Wrath of Khan. [6] Supposedly, however, this rumor came from Roddenberry himself. [7]

In any case, the original rumor was true; Spock did die.

Sackett's Relationship with Roddenberry

From "Inside Trek" subtitled "My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry" where she detailed her decade-and-a-half-long romantic and intimate involvement with her Roddenberry:

Although I felt somewhat used and left out, I was convinced that I was really a very lucky girl, to be here in this time and place. It was almost as if I felt a responsibility to the fans, to keep their hero happy. I was still in awe of this great man, falling in love with him, and I would have done anything to please him. And so, to paraphrase Queen Victoria’s suggestion to young English brides, I closed my eyes and thought of Star Trek. [8]

As a Zine Contributor and Editor

As a Con Guest


External Links

Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also Maureen Garrett, Richard Arnold, David Gerrold


  1. ^ from Halkan Council #20/21 (August 1976)
  2. ^ from Interstat #10
  3. ^ One fan, Leslie Fish, took Sackett to task for these comments in Interstat #12 (1978): "Ms. Sackett complains that nobody has ever sent a K/S story to Gene Roddenberry's office— as if that were something that she had a right to expect. What marvelous arrogance! Does she expect to get copies of every Trek-zine printed? For free? Everybody else in Trek-dom has to pay for their zines (or at least make a direct contribution to each issue). If S.S. and G.R. want to read zines with K/S stories—or any zines, for that matter—they can damn-well afford to send for them and pay for them, just like everybody else. This blithe arrogance turns to something worse when Ms. Sackett claims that "Gay Liberation...has no application to characters in Star Trek" because Kirk and Spock are "straight-appearing". This comment shows that Ms. Sackett, like all the rest of you who oppose the K/S theory on the grounds that it's "out of character", ASSUMES THAT NOBODY EXCEPT A STEREOTYPE "FAIRY" EVER INDULGES IN SAME-SEX AFFAIRS. That, good people, is bullshit. It is also bigoted...."
  4. ^ In STAG #30
  5. ^ from Interstat #44 (June 1981)
  6. ^ "Harve Bennett: Star Trek is to be a feature picture now. Kirk is an Admiral and the film is not a follow on to ST-TMP. Mr. Bennett hopes to achieve the feel of the first and second series in his movie. No Klingons, no Romulans but much more of the crew and some special effects but only where necessary. One of the girls asked why he was going to kill off Spock. There was a pause before Mr. Bennett asked "Where did you hear that - other than from Susan Sackett?" He then went on to explain that in the course of discussions various people had been disposed of at sometime - but that Susan had gone through the office when they were discussing Spock. As with the others the idea ended in the trash can, but Susan announced it in England and everyone had taken up the cry." - from Beyond Antares #42
  7. ^ Gene Roddenberry actively tried to ruin Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Archived version
  8. ^ page 26 of her 2002 book "Inside Star Trek"