I’m finally getting around to posting about Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s funeral last Sunday morning at Forest Lawn in Burbank.
Majel Barrett played Nurse Chapel in the original Star Trek, and was the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She was considered the matriarch of Star Trek and she made herself the mother of all the fans. I’ll never forget how she treated me in the 80’s when I used to go to the conventions. She always treated me as someone she was interested in talking to, and I remember when the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation was in post production, she said to me “Oh Rich, I so wish you could see what I’ve seen. You’re going to be so exited about it! I’m excited for you!” and she gave me a hug. I’ve never forgotten that, and when she died I really felt a deep sense of loss. It was announced that there would be a public memorial, and so I went. I thought it was to be just someting for the fans- a video presentation and maybe Rod Roddenberry saying a few words.
service program ~ click to enlarge
The fact that it was being held at Forest Lawn should have tipped me off that it was to be something more. It was, in fact, her funeral service, with ALL of her family, friends, and past co-workers. It was a veritable who’s who of the Star Trek universe. I can’t describe how ethereal it was to be in the same room, milling around with all of those people, as one of them. Standing next to Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) George Takei (Sulu)and Walter Koenig (Chekov) as Brent Spiner (Data) and Wil Weaton (Wes Crusher) walk by, talking to each other. Also there was Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troy) Robert Picardo (the Dr. in Voyager), Nana Visitor, Max Grodenchik and Rene Auberjonois from DS9. Rick Berman, J.J. Abrams, John Delancie ( Q), and so so many others. I learned afterwards that Buzz Aldrin and Neal Armstrong (!!!!!!!) were there, but I didnt recognise them. If you’re an original series geek, then you’ll remember the episode ‘The Galileo Seven’ – Remember Mr. Boma? He was standing right behind me as we were congregated to enter the church, and in the picture of me below, you can see him walking in behind me. The actor’s name is Don Marshall. He looked so different, I would never have recognised him by sight, but when he spoke, that unmistakable voice was IMMEDIATELY recognised.
Don Marshall “Mr. Boma”
The service itself was very moving. I sat in the 3rd row, right behind the family. Gene Roddenberry’s 85 year old brother sat right in front of me. Sitting next to me was Joanne Linville (Romulan Commander ‘The Enterprise Incident’,pictured) and nearby was Arlene Martel (T’pring ‘Amok Time’). most of the eulogy was of old friends recounting anecdotes about the incredible lady that was Majel Barrett.
The best story came from one of Gene Roddenberry’s best friends. He said that Majel, a 40 year member of the Bel Aire country club, was upset that there were so many animal lover – she had anywhere from 10 to 13 cats at any one time – offered the caddie staff $25 for each cat captured, so she could have them spayed/neutered and returned. The usually canny and hard-to-fool Majel was totally taken in and bested when each and every one of those caddies suddenly showed up with cats they’d found all over west LA – and each of them got their $25 per cat. The guy estimates that they turned in over 100 cats. Meow.running around. Majel, a lifelong HUGE
Joanne Linville ~ sat next to me
The most moving part, however, was of course when
He absolutely devastated me, and I suspect most every on else in the congregation when he related that he grew up bitter towards his mother, with a poor relationship, not understanding her at all.He had come to love her deeply only after coming to grips with his feelings, and realizing that he was, as her son, unable to see beyond her facade of wisecracks and needlings.He never could see her tender side.
Until she got ill, and they communicated.
Man, I doubt if there was a dry eye in the church, but I couldn’t see it beacase I was fallin like to beat niagara myself. Mr. Roddenberry in front of me was crying .
You know, it took a lot of guts to stand up there and reveal that. A LOT of guts, indeed.
Rod announced that the San Diego Zoo just approached him with the need of a new lion maternity ward, and now, through a generous bequest, there will soon be a new Majel Barret at the zoo. Also he announced that sometime in 2012, Majel and Gene’s ashes will both be launched from a spaceship into outer space. Feline Maternity ward
Afterwards, I spied Nichelle Nichols standing alone and just then George Takei rushed by and she gestured like “hey George!” but he didnt see her – I found that a bit odd, but they were together later, so whatever.
You can go to this link to see many more pictures of the service and reception.