Fans Celebrate 50 Years at Star Trek Las Vegas

Fans Celebrate 50 Years at Star Trek Las Vegas

Star Trek Las Vegas kicked off on Wednesday, as thousands of fans flocked to the Rio Suites for the mega gathering celebrating Star Trek's landmark 50th anniversary. StarTrek.com hit the ground running in order to cover every aspect of the event, and we're pleased to share what were calling a photo essay of the proceedings.

For starters, fans of every stripe got in on the fun. There were adults in their 70s and 80s, who watched The Original Series when it first aired on NBC, and a handful of them attended the earliest conventions. There were entire families, folks who'd passed their love of Trek down from one generation to the next. And we spied more than a few toddlers and infants decked out in Trek garb and looking too cute for words.

Of course, many, many fans cosplayed. A few went with basic Starfleet uniforms, but we glimpsed Klingons, Starfleet cheerleaders, zombie red shirts, a great Harry Mudd, lots of Klingons, a few Ferengi, several Andorians, a couple of Vinas, Dr. Gillian Taylor, a whole bunch of Vulcans, an elaborate Borg and on and on. Fans admired each other's handiwork and posed with each for photos, with their smiles speaking volumes about the shared experience and their love of Star Trek.

The dealers' room was bustling from the get-go, with every imaginable Trek item available. Trek shirts, costumes, photos, books and games? Check. Posters, toys, Tribbles and more. Check again. There were valuable vintage collectibles to be had, as well as brand-new items. And several Trek actors had tables in the room and were signing for fans.

After its wildly successful debut at Comic-Con a couple of weeks back, M-A-C Cosmetics wowed STLV attendees with their massive, sectioned, spherical station that boasts an interactive transporter area, a Ten Forward section and an engineering warp core.

Fans soaked in the experience, from the scripted sequences featuring actors/models performing as Uhura, Vina, Seven of Nine, Deanna Troi, Spock, Data and a group of red shirts, to enjoying the handiwork of M-A-C's 40 makeup artists, who did Terran touch ups as well as full-on alien transformations for visitors.

Products from the upcoming M-A-C Trek line are available for purchase at the station, and those products won't be available to the general public for another month.

Just off the promenade, fans ventured into the Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years. art exhibit created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Shining a spotlight on original, Trek-inspired pieces by 50 artists from around the globe, the exhibit appeals to Trek aficionados and art lovers both casual and professional. The exhibit is free of charge, and several of the artists will be available throughout the weekend to sign autographs; keep an eye on our Twitter feed for details about signings.

Spread throughout the convention space, everyone clearly enjoyed the photo op areas that include a transporter, the Guardian of Forever, an Enterprise bridge, several Borg regeneration chambers and more. Fans also took a moment to reflect and add personal condolences to a large banner honoring the late Anton Yelchin.

New this year is an autograph signing room, with dozens of Trek actors, writers and other behind-the-scenes figures offering autographs to their fans.

And then there was the main programming, with people filling both the massive Leonard Nimoy Theatre and also the more intimate DeForest Kelly Theatre.

Robin Curtis and Eric Menyuk had the honor of starting off the day. They emerged to cheers and put on funny hats and glasses before flashing sheets of paper, all choreographed to music. Phrases on the sheets included "live long and prosper" and "Final Frontier." They also silently paid tribute to the Trek actors we've lost over the years.

Curtis and Menyuk then removed the hats and glasses, settled into chairs and answered questions posed to them by fans. Saavik's pregnancy storyline was cut from The Voyage Home, Curtis said, adding, "It died on Vulcan."

Menyuk shared his amazement at how much fans read into his TNG appearances as the Traveler. "People really think about that show," he said. "I love that." He also recalled an early bit of advice from Patrick Stewart, who told him, "You're quite good, but you should do... less."

Next, Enterprise veterans Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating, John Billingsley and Gary Graham teamed up for a laugh-filled panel.

Billingsley, asked if he'd want to make an encore as Phlox on Discovery, replied, "Not with the makeup!"

Graham remembered a conversation with Enterprise producer Rick Berman. "I showed up and Rick said, 'You look like a Vulcan.'"

Keating admitted, "I'm so not an Internet person, but back then I did read what those chat boards said." 

Several of The Original Series' most-beloved female guest stars -- Celeste Yarnall, Sherry Jackson, Tania Lemani, BarBara Luna and Sabrina Scharf -- shared a stage, much to the joy of longtime fans.

Luna summed up the moment, saying, "Happy anniversary, everyone."

Yarnall brought people to tears by sharing her cancer recovery story and noting that fans are no longer fans, "but family now."

Scharf recounted riding motorcycles with William Shatner and revealed that these days she's a lawyer.

Lemani danced as Kara and still dances today, and she dated William Shatner for a short while.

And Jackson talked at length about making the transition from child actress to a more mature, older actress.

TNG guest stars Hallie Todd, Suzie Plakson and Carolyn Seymour were up next.

"Everyone kept telling me Star Trek is the gift that keeps on giving," Lal actress Todd noted, adding that she's learned to discover that's very, very true.

How did Seymour land her role as Subcommander Taris? "Auditions," she replied simply. "We went on auditions."

Plakson addressed the challenges of being a guest star, saying, "Any show you guest star on is like a freight train You hop on and hop off." 

Elinor Donahue and Gregory Itzin were paired up for their informative panel. Donahue had shot all her scenes as Hedford in "Metamorphosis" when she got called back for reshoots a week or so later. But she'd been sick and lost several pounds, which made her look visibly different. "That's where the scarf came in," she said to cheers.

Itzin played multiple alien characters in Trek, prompting him to comment, "You carry yourself a different way than you do in regular life." And fans marveled as Donahue discussed the unlikely connection she shared with Jane Wyatt, who played her screen mom on Father Knows Best and Spock's mother in TOS and ST IV.

"That was so important to her," Donahue said. "She wasn't a bragging person, but she bragged that she was Leonard's mother. She loved Leonard. They just hit if off, and he was very good to her. It was a delight to know we had that little connection."

A special treat for attendees old and new was the panel featuring the early fans who helped keep Star Trek alive. These included Sue Kott, one of Trek's very first vendors; Richard Arnold, who would later become Gene Roddenberry's right hand man; and fan legends Bjo and John Trimble, whose letter-writing campaign convinced NBC to renew TOS for a third season following the network's announcement of its cancellation.

After graciously acknowledging a standing ovation, Bjo joked that "she's the housewife who spoke up." John touched on how and why, even though he and Bjo spearheaded the Save Trek campaign together, she receives the bulk of the credit.

"If one person is John and the other Bjo... whose name are YOU going to remember?" And John got a chuckle when he pointed out, "We may have been responsible for season three, but we were not responsible for 'Spock's Brain,'" the much-maligned episode that launched season three in a less than stellar manner.

And the main programming for the day concluded with a memorable appearance by J.G. Hertzler, Gwynyth Walsh and Robert O'Reilly in costume and mostly in character as Martok, B'Etor and Gowron.  The jokes were off-color, they playfully teased each other and fans who dared to asked questions, and Walsh and O'Reilly sang, "I'm So Pretty."

Sitting on the couch with Walsh while O'Reilly commandeered the chair behind a desk, Hertzler accurately stated, "This is like a Klingon talk show," which led to lots of amusing interplay between the actors.  

A fan asked what the actors felt about B'Elanna Torres, and Walsh, in character, screamed, "She was a traitor."

And as the session -- and this portion of the day -- ended, Hertzler, Walsh and O'Reilly invited all the Klingons in the audience to join them on stage, after which everyone assembled sang, with gusto, The Warrior's Anthem. 

Of course, the fun didn't completely end there. Quark's offered a happy hour and entertainment by Chase Masterson, and the Commander's Evening Dinner Party at the Rio's Voodoo Lounge featured the comedy stylings of John Billingsley and music by Gary Graham and his band, Sons of Kirk. 

Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow for a recap of Day Two's activities and highlights from Star Trek Las Vegas.  

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