Creation Entertainment Remembers
|The circle of life takes a sad turn today that affects all Star Trek fans worldwide
with the passing of a true genre icon, our beloved SCOTTY, actor James Doohan.
Jimmy most likely made more convention appearances for us over the decades than any other celebrity. We brought him to cities large and small and at each his warm on-stage persona won him gales of laughter and applause. With his ever- present tall glass of scotch by his side he signed hundreds of thousands of autographs for our audiences in the days before eBAY and talent "agents" changed the convention business and made it a necessity to charge for such.
He was one of the first stars in the "convention appearance" game that had a prepared speech and it was enormously fun to hear it done repeatedly each time with a small new nuance or gesture. Like a stage play, Jimmy was always trying for the extra laugh, wringing it from the audience like the seasoned veteran of countless live appearances that he was.
The audience howled at his various accent interpretations of what Scotty could have been or how life on The Enterprise would have been different if Scotty was Captain and Kirk served beneath him.
In real life, behind the scenes, it was a pleasure to work with him. Almost always, because like Scotty he did have a bit of a temper fueled by a nip of the sauce. Fans always saw the consummate entertainer in those days but one of the joys of our business was the opportunity to get to know the true folks behind our character heroes and Jimmy was a character all to himself.
Thirty-five years older than the oldest of our staff, Jimmy could easily drink any of us under the table and often did. His stories were legendary and his poker playing was consistent if not any better than any of us. It was fun to hang with him because unlike most celebrities the talk didn't have to revolve around him and he could speak eloquently on most subjects that might come up.
He also was extremely gracious to folks who recognized him on the streets and the feature films gave him much more visibility to the public since (unlike his peers) his appearance had changed fairly dramatically from the classic series days.
I guess what best sums up the big heart of James was the fact that he would often visit patients at hospitals in cities where we ran shows, particularly if they contacted him or us in advance. Everyone wanted to meet "Scotty!" and he tried never to disappoint. One particular time I remember he made repeated trips to see a terminally ill boy in a particular hospital and that really struck me. He was well into his sixties by that time and it couldn't have been easy. I think he knew that Scotty made a difference there and I hope he knew that Scotty made an immeasurable difference in the lives of so many that chose to go into Engineering careers because of his portrayal.
I know that it was hard for James all those years being typecast. He held a grudge with circumstances that might have held him back because he was a man of huge talents and he truly could play so much more than the one character that everyone knew him as.
I guess it was great that the features and the conventions afforded him a style of life that the creation of such a memorable character deserved. Scotty became part of our generation and more than just ours. He became an icon for the can-do spirit that is an inspiration to everyone trying to do a job beyond expectations.
For awhile at the peak of Trek's popularity it seemed that Scotty was everywhere, up to and including becoming a spokesperson for major corporations. It was good to see James getting that recognition and the monetary rewards that came with that. Eventually he even got a decent share of the revenue generated from all the Scotty merchandise that we all collected!
The later years were tough for Jimmy's fans. We welcomed him back to our stages a few years ago (in Las Vegas) after a hiatus period and it was sad to see the once vibrant entertainer reduced. In show business there is always an argument to retire and let the audience remember you at the top of your game. It is the way Johnny Carson and Stan Laurel choose. Today people remember Bob Hope not as the most talented comedic actor in American film (which he was) but as he was into his nineties and still working.
A year ago we wanted to honor JImmy by having a real Las Vegas Hilton gambling chip made with Scotty's image, sort of a way to honor all those late night poker games. His reps didn't let it happen (those pesky "agents" again!) unfortunately, but today we hope Jimmy is at a poker table somewhere with a huge glass of scotch by his side and an equally huge stack of chips all with that unforgettable image that could do the impossible!
Rest in Peace, Jimmy!
It's hard to say goodbye to you, Jimmy. You were a beloved fixture of my youth. I met you more than twenty years ago when we first started running Star Trek conventions in New York City. But I had seen you years earlier at the first Trek shows, early in the Seventies, side by side with Isaac Asimov, the late great sci fi genius.
From the moment I saw you at the Statler Hilton, I was in love. Of course I already loved Scotty, the ever dependable miracle man who held the Enterprise together with duct tape even under the severest of Klingon attacks, cosmic storms and Kirk's pleas of "More power, I need more power!" The ship's engineer who could weather the harshest criticism of his Captain without losing his cool, but don't dare insult his ship!
That rainy New York City day I discovered the wit and wisdom of James Doohan. I found out you were a dedicated member of the Canadian military, even leading a team onto the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, where you had a finger blown off. You displayed your hand proudly, it was your freedom flag. You went on to become a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force, where you used to fly your planes upside down, much to the literal distress of your cockpit mates. Now I understood how you could pilot the Enterprise.
You spoke proudly of your years in radio, TV, theater and film. You studied with Sanford Meisner, you performed theater with greats like Tony Randall and Jackie Gleason, you guest starred on countless TV shows. But Star Trek put you on the map, immortalizing you forever.
So as I gradually got to know you, over the dozens of appearances you made at our events, I came to respect you deeply and cherish our friendship. Now I'm not saying we didn't have our differences, because we did. There will always be a delicate tension between producer and actor, but overall we had a great run together. You were there with us for the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek at the Shrine, saluting the Great Bird of the Galaxy, Gene Roddenberry, in what would be his last convention appearance. You were there with us in Huntsville, Alabama, for the 30th Anniversary, alongside Buzz Aldrin, saluting the intersection of science fiction and the science fact of our own Space Age. You were there with us for the 35th Anniversary in Pasadena, complaining that you were sick of anniversaries! Still, you were proud to be there, too, and it showed in your beaming smile and bright eyes.
As you perennially regaled your loving audiences, certain themes and stories became treasured riffs that we hoped you would repeat. Everyone knows now what a great character actor you were and how many voices you could create. Still, it was always fresh when you posed Kirk's immortal plea, "Scotty, I need Warp power in 20 seconds or we're all dead!" and answered in a variety of characters. My favorite was Reggie, the British Colonial soldier, whose perpetual response was, "Well, I'm terribly sorry, Captain, but I can't seem to get the bugger to move!"
I know you struggled late in life with your health, but you were lucky to have Wendi, your fantastic wife, and your loving family by your side. And you managed to father a child at the age of eighty- what a man!
Now the 40th Anniversary is coming, and there will be an empty spot on the stage where you should have been standing. I'm going to miss you deeply, but I'll never forget you. None of us will.
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