Sackett on Roddenberry: 'One of the Most Gifted People of Our Time'

By Michelle
July 18, 2007 - 9:24 PM

"Gene Roddenberry was one of the most gifted people of our time, but he also had demons that haunted him," said Susan Sackett, who was the Star Trek creator's assistant and involved in a relationship she has described in her book Inside Trek. "He was, after all, human...brilliant in his work, but also plagued by doubts, depression and addictions."

In an interview with Trekdom, Sackett described Roddenberry as "a product of his time", who was as passionate about indulging his enjoyment of food, drink and women as he was about his writing. "He saw nothing wrong with acting on his passions while writing about equality or temperance. These were ideals and goals, and he was a human, not a robot or god who was some sort of perfect icon," she said.

Asked whether she thought Roddenberry's contempt for religion clashed with his celebration of diversity, Sackett said, "Diversity and religious belief are entirely different areas when it comes to tolerance. One cannot adhere to two contradictory ideas at the same time. His non-belief in religious illogic was true to his own philosophy." She added that Roddenberry was very respectful of the beliefs of others, but felt that "petty beliefs - my god can beat up your god and we have the only true way - holds humanity back from greatness."

Sackett believes that Roddenberry became understandably protective of Star Trek: The Next Generation because "it was his reputation and his legacy that were at stake, whereas the writers could always find other jobs." He lost friends rewriting their work when he felt it was below the series' standards. "Donít forget, everyone had challenged Gene to do this new version of Trek, and everyone said it couldnít be done: 'Roddenberry canít catch lightning in a bottle twice' was one of the phrases that was tossed about quite frequently. The gauntlet had been thrown down. So he had a lot of pressure on him," she pointed out.

Asked about Roddenberry's supposed "darker side", Sackett said that that was a phrase she would not use. "I think he had some of those Hemingwayan demons that drove him to 'self-medicate'...he had that kind of genius that people of his generation dealt with by turning to drug use," she stated. After Roddenberry's death, she said, "I was naturally devastated. He had been the center of my world," and what became her book started out as a private collection of notes "so I would never forget our conversations, my feelings and my personal experiences."

For more, including Sackett's explanation of how Roddenberry introduced her to the ideals of humanism, the full interview is at Trekdom.

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