Growing up as the son of Gene and Majel Barrett Roddenberry was no big deal for Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, for Roddenberry, life was no big deal because his father was the founder of Star Trek. “…for me, growing up was fairly average, although I guess slightly privileged,” he explained. “My parents did keep me slightly down to earth, I believe. Kirk and Spock did not show up every night at the house for dinner. The Hollywood schmoozing parties of the old days, those sorts of things didn’t happen. My father kept his home life and his work life pretty separate. He went to work in the morning, he did what he did. I went to school and Star Trek was not shoved down my throat. Occasionally a fan would send something, and I would see it, and I knew my father worked on Star Trek, but I didn’t really get the enormity of what it was.”
In high school, Roddenberry was more apt to “goof off” than to study, and he “cared more about girls and being cool than getting an education. In his senior year though, he got more serious about his education. “I was able to choose some courses [in my senior year] and one of the courses I chose was astronomy,” he said. “I became enamored with that, just loved the creative side of science, where you would get some data, some information, then it was up to your imagination to find out why that data existed. And the creative part of that I loved.”
“And that kind of brought me full circle into Star Trek. Of course, the passing of my father and the learning of what Star Trek was, the fact that it was more than just entertainment, the fact that it touched lives and, I would say, made this world a better place in some small way, that really inspired me. And so I kinda buckled down in the last year of high school and then college and really pursued interests, and found the importance of getting an education.”
Roddenberry attended college, but left just short of his degree when offered a job on a television show. “Toward my final semester, my mother called me and asked me, ‘Would you like to work on a TV show?’ which became Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict. I wasn’t aspiring to be in the industry, but I thought this would be one hell of an opportunity to really pay attention and learn something, because when I was a kid my father gave me jobs as a P.A. [personal assistant], and I didn’t appreciate them. I was thirteen. It was summer. My friends were playing. I wanted to go play. I didn’t give a rat’s you-know-what about working on Star Trek. Again, having him pass away and gaining an appreciation for really exploring, I wouldn’t say following in his footsteps, but exploring who he was, I thought it would be a great opportunity to work on the show. So I left college, worked on the show for four years, and quite frankly, never went back.”
Carrying on the Roddenberry legacy is more than making money, according to Roddenberry. “My father really created something, and I have to say it was really a collaborative effort, my father and the team that created Star Trek. My father’s philosophy, which was embedded in Star Trek, really touched lives. I can’t tell you how many people from all walks of life, all faiths, socio-economic backgrounds, they’ve all found this message, which is something I’m so passionate about and have done everything possible to incorporate that into my life.”
Roddenberry will be appearing at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas this weekend. The Roddenberry Productions Panel will take place from 3:40-4:25 on Friday, August 7, and a half-hour tribute to Majel Barrett Roddenberry will follow immediately after the panel.
To read more, head to the article located here.