The moment DeForest Kelley knew Star Trek was a phenomenon

Bones recalls when he realized Star Trek was huge.

In his best-selling debut, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the moment a piece of culture reaches ubiquity. Gladwell uses several factors to determine "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The popular author sees this "tipping point" as the crest of a wave, and seeks to better measure and understand the moment the wave crashes into popular consciousness.

Although Gladwell doesn't discuss Star Trek, the show, and the way it permeated culture, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Star Trek built its audience slowly. There were the people that viewed the show as it originally aired, and the ones who caught on later, in re-runs. There may not have been one moment where everything clicked for Star Trek, but for one of its stars, there was a singular moment that exemplified just how massive the series became.

In 1979, DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy visited Australia to promote Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While he was there, Kelley spoke at length with The Sydney Morning Herald. One of the topics of discussion was the sci-fi series' growing footprint within the pop culture sphere. Specifically, Kelley spoke of the moment he realized just how big a deal Star Trek had become.

"The first time I went to a Trekkies convention was in New York in 1973 or so," By then, the show hadn't aired a new episode in 4 years.

"It was the second [convention] they had. I walked out onto the stage and was confronted by 10,000 screaming fans... It was like being a rock and roll star.

"I went home to California and told my wife that something had to happen, that either a film or a new television series would be made. The feeling for the series was running very high."

Star Trek continues to grow in relevance and stature to this day. Every few years the show and its characters are rediscovered by fresh viewers, renewing interest in the original series and the many that followed.

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10 Comments

Moverfan 4 months ago
It took until 1978 to reassemble the crew...and a rather grumpy doctor told his captain that Starfleet had resorted to a rather nasty trick--"They DRAFTED me!"
Avie 4 months ago
I was at that "Star Trek" convention of which Kelley spoke, and there's no way that fire marshals would have allowed 10,000 people into the entire hotel, let alone the main ballroom. The total number seated there was probably closer to 1800.
WatchingMe 4 months ago
Thank You, MeTv for airing Star Trek, it is hands down the BEST version of Star Trek, In a world where we have twelve television series that make up the Star Trek franchise: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds. Star Trek, The Original Series Rules ! Beam Me Up, Scotty !
WatchingMe 4 months ago

William Shatner says Paramount is ‘erasing’ Captain Kirk, blames those ‘threatened’ by the character. Shatner replied by sharing Paramount’s promotional image for "Star Trek Day," another poster featuring franchise favorites, though not Shatner’s Kirk.
"It’s not the first time it’s been going on for years. It makes no difference to me that a group who think they are ‘enlightened’ (or whatever they think they are) obviously feels threatened by the Kirk character. It’s a character from a 1960’s TV show- get over it." - William Shatner Read More : https://www.foxnews.com/media/william-shatner-paramount-erasing-captain-kirk-blames-threatened-character
Follow William Shatner on X @WilliamShatner
Beta6 4 months ago
I was smitten from the first time I ever saw it. I loved it. At that time in the 60's the effects were quite good. And that added to the suspension of disbelief. I have watched it all these years. The other iterations of it as well. But the original series to me, never gets old. How I wish they had not canceled it.
Sooner 4 months ago
I was fully addicted from the first episode when it came out. I was really angry when they cancelled it because I knew that there was a huge, loyal following

I never bothered watching any of the later versions of Star Trek. It just didn't seem right.
Pacificsun Sooner 4 months ago
Mostly, succeeding Series weren't connected (enough) except for Roddenberry's introductory premise. And making some stories out of the basic alien races, and personalities. Fair enough, better than no adventures. Yet, taking a lot of advantage for trading on the concept of original developers and writers.
justjeff 4 months ago
Dang it, Jim... I'm a doctor, not a rock and roll star!
Pacificsun 4 months ago
Before the Movie, the earliest ST Cons were fun, easily accessible, local, informal, and lacked being self-aware., since the franchise had not yet developed. Meeting everyone who appeared.
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