March 22, 2228 Final Frontier

Kirk was killed in 2329 on the Enterprise (B), after the ship was eaten by a Nexus energy ribbon on its maiden voyage. Only he didn’t die, because Jean-Luc Picard found him alive in the timeless Nexus, negotiating hotel deals for Priceline.com. Or something like that.

On this day in the year 2228, a boy was born to George and Winona Kirk. He would go on to become the youngest captain in Starfleet history but, before he could boldly go where no man has gone before, he had to have a name.

The former WWII fighter pilot and veteran of 89 combat missions Gene Roddenberry had 16 suggestions for a name, among them “Hannibal”, “Timber”, “Flagg”, and “Raintree”.  The television screenwriter and producer decided on James T. Kirk, based on a journal entry from the 18th century British explorer, Captain James Cook, who wrote “ambition leads me … farther than any other man has been before me“.

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Kirk was killed in 2329 on the Enterprise (B), after the ship was eaten by a Nexus energy ribbon on its maiden voyage. Only he didn’t die, because Jean-Luc Picard found him alive in the timeless Nexus, negotiating hotel deals for Priceline.com. Or something like that.

In his 1968 book “Making of Star Trek“, Roddenberry writes that James Kirk was born in a small town in Iowa. Full time “Trekkie” and part time Riverside, Iowa Councilman Steve Miller thought “Why not Riverside”. In 1985, Miller moved that Riverside declare itself the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk. The motion passed unanimously. Miller poked a stick into the ground behind the barber shop, (good thing he owned the property), declaring that this was the place.  An engraved monument was erected, and so it was.  Riverside, population 963, became the “Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.  A bench was added later, along with a Shuttlecraft-shaped donation box.

jk6Riverside’s official slogan was changed from “Where the best begins” to “Where the Trek begins,” the annual “River Fest” summer festival, became “Trek Fest”.

Star Trek fans, ever-jealous protectors of series trivia, sometimes wonder why the March 22, 2228 date on the Riverside monument differs from the March 22, 2233 date usually cited as Kirk’s future birthday. The 2233 date didn’t come around until eight years after the monument, with the publication The Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future. 2228 or 2233 you can take your pick, but both agree on March 22, which happens to be William Shatner’s birthday.

download (24)In case you ever wondered what the “T” stands for – its “Tiberius”.

The Space Foundation of Colorado Springs bills itself as “the world’s premier organization to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate on behalf of the global space community“.  A 2010 survey conducted by the organization found that James Tiberius Kirk was voted the 6th “most inspirational space hero of all time“, tied with Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.  Tied for 6th place, with the first human in space.  A guy who went there, and came back.  A guy who…you know…actually…exists.

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May 18, 1965 Final Frontier

In his 1968 book “Making of Star Trek”, Gene Roddenberry says that James Kirk was born in a small town in Iowa. Full time Trekkie and part time Riverside Councilman Steve Miller thought “Why not Riverside”.

A boy was born on March 22, 2233 in Riverside, Iowa, destined to become the youngest captain in Star Fleet history. Before he could boldly go where no man has gone before, he had to have a name.

The WWII fighter pilot and veteran of 89 combat missions Gene Roddenberry made 16 name suggestions on this date in 1965, among them Hannibal, Timber, Flagg, and Raintree.

Star_Trek_William_ShatnerRoddenberry decided on James T. Kirk, based on a journal entry of the 18th century British explorer, Captain James Cook: “ambition leads me … farther than any other man has been before me”.

Kirk was killed in 2329 on the Enterprise (B), after the ship was eaten by a Nexus energy ribbon on its maiden voyage. Only he didn’t die, because Jean-Luc Picard found him alive in the timeless Nexus, negotiating hotel deals for Priceline.com. Or something like that.

In his 1968 book “Making of Star Trek”, Gene Roddenberry says that James Kirk was born in a small town in Iowa. Full time Trekkie and part time Riverside Councilman Steve Miller thought “Why not Riverside”. In 1985 Miller moved that Riverside declare itself the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk.  The motion passed unanimously. The town’s slogan was changed from “Where the best begins” to “Where the Trek begins,” and the annual summer festival changed from “River Fest” to “Trek Fest”.

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The Riverside connection became Holy Writ, when the 2009 film Star Trek identified the place as Kirk’s home town. There is a granite monument in Riverside, population 963, declaring itself to be the “Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.

In case you were ever curious about what the “T” stands for…its Tiberius.

 

March 3, 1920 The Craziest Pilot in the Canadian Air Force

Doohan practiced voices and accents ever since he was a kid, and he was good at it. The skills he acquired would serve him well in his later acting career.

Born March 3, 1920 in Vancouver, British Columbia, James Montgomery “Jimmy” Doohan enrolled in the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in 1938. By the outbreak of WWII he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.landing

Doohan’s first taste of combat took place on D-Day, on the Normandy beach Canadian landing forces knew as “Juno”. Crossing through a field of anti-tank mines, the Canadian’s luck held.  None of them were heavy enough to set one off.  Leading his men to higher ground, Lieutenant Doohan personally shot two German snipers, before taking up positions for the night.

That night, Doohan had just finished a cigarette and was walking back to his command post.  A nervous sentry opened up on him with a Bren light machine gun, striking him four times in the leg, once in the chest and again on the middle finger of his right hand. The chest shot hit the cigarette case his brother had given him for good luck, and doctors were able to save his life.  Not so much for the finger. That had to be amputated. He would always hide the injury in his later life.

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After healing up, Doohan served as courier and artillery spotter, aboard a Taylorcraft Auster Mark IV.  In the spring of 1945, he slalomed his aircraft between telegraph poles, just to prove that it could it be done.  Though the man was never an actual member of the CAF, the stunt forever marked him as “the craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force”.

Doohan practiced voices and accents ever since he was a kid, and he was good at it. The skills he acquired would serve him well in his later acting career.

He heard a radio drama after the war. Knowing he could do it better, Doohan recorded his voice at a local radio station, winning a two year scholarship to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and studying with the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Tony Randall, and Richard Boone.

Doohan appeared in over 4,000 radio programs and 450 television shows throughout the forties and fifties. Coincidentally, Doohan played “Timber Tom”, the northern version of Buffalo Bob, in the Canadian production of Howdy Doody. About the same time that a young actor named William Shatner was playing Ranger Bill in the American version. The two would appear together on the 1950s Canadian science fiction series “Space Command”. It wasn’t the last time the two would appear together.

Auditioning before Gene Roddenberry in 1965, Doohan performed several accents. Asked which he preferred, he responded “If you want an engineer, in my experience the best engineers are Scotsmen.” He chose the name “Montgomery Scott”, after his grandfather.

Chief Engineer aboard the Starship Enterprise was supposed to be an occasional role, but Doohan’s character proved irresistible.scotty

Soon he was #3 in command, a regular cast member playing alongside William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy).  Doohan’s voice talents helped behind the scenes as well.  It was he who helped develop the Klingon and Vulcan languages.

Star Trek was canceled in 1969 due to poor ratings, but returned to broadcast syndication in the 70s.  The series has since become a cult classic. There is hardly a woman, man, puppy boy or girl who isn’t steeped and marinated in the program.

The “Scotty” character was so iconic, that many fans credit him with their interest in the technical fields.  Among them was the engineer-turned-astronaut Neil Armstrong, who personally thanked him in 2004.

doohan-1Doohan’s health declined in his later years. He developed Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, along with fibrosis of the lung, blamed on his exposure to noxious chemicals during WWII. He was experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s by 2004, though he was able to attend the ceremony held in his honor after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that August.

James Montgomery Doohan passed away on July 20, 2005, survived by third wife Wende, their three children, his four adult children from a previous marriage, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His youngest daughter, Sarah, was five at the time of his death.

On April 29, 2007, a SpaceLoft XL rocket lifted off from the Spaceport America launchpad in Las Cruces.  Onboard were the ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper, and James Montgomery Doohan.  Cooper’s wife Suzan and Wende Doohan pushed the launch button.

In Linlithgow, Scotland, there is a museum, claiming the West Lothian town as the future birthplace of chief engineer Montgomery Scott.  He will be born there, in 2222.

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