Another Pandemic Birthday

Last year I wrote about celebrating my birthday during a pandemic.  A year later it’s the same story.  I got another ice cream cake from Dairy Queen like last year, but at least now I can occasionally enjoy sitting on a patio with friends. 

I took my birthday week off as vacation from work.  In terms of employment I am much better off than many of the people I know.  I’ve been working full time remotely, so I haven’t had any interruption to my income.  Due to business needs during the pandemic I have had to switch departments a couple of times, which has proved enjoyable.  Never-the-less lately I’ve felt myself hitting a wall where I just didn’t have any energy left.  Work was becoming tedious and I just needed a break.  So, I took one.

It is one of the more low-key vacations I have ever had.  It mostly consisted of lying in a hammock and binge watching every episode of The Mandalorian. 

For my birthday, as is tradition I purchased an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.  Now that I am decidedly in my mid-30s I didn’t each very much of it, and I long for the day when the gyms open up and I can work off some of the weight I’ve put on by stress eating during the past year and a half. 

I also look forward to finally getting a haircut.  Before the pandemic started, I was trying to grow out my hair to have long hair at least once before it goes grey or bald, and now it is longer than it has ever been in my life.

There are more signs of life in London. Not only are patio’s open but London Major’s baseball is starting up for an abbreviated season.  If all goes well, I will get to attend on Friday.

I don’t know if life and travel will ever return to normal, but for now I just hope I won’t be writing a similar post one year from now.

Jordan without a haircut during the pandemic

Sheldon Collins – Tough Kid in “Star Trek : A Piece of the Action”

After starting this hobby of contacting actors from the original Star Trek series, I have focused mostly on the people who are older.  For that reason, I haven’t attempted to contact very many of the child actors who worked on the show, who are now in their late 60s. 

The first one I attempted was Sheldon Collins.

The now Dr. Sheldon Gollomb worked as a child actor in the mid to late 1960s, appearing in various shows like the soap opera Guiding Light, sit coms like “I Dream of Jeannie” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and the sci-fi series “Time Tunnel”.  His most prominent role was a recurring performance as Arnold Bailey, a local boy from Mayberry, in “The Andy Griffith Show”.

He was reportedly a fan of Star Trek when he was cast in the Season Two episode “A Piece of the Action”.  This is one of the silly episodes of Star Trek, but its one of the better ones.  Captain Kirk and crew visit a planet that was last visited by the federation a century ago.  In the previous visit the landing party left behind a book on Chicago gangsters of the 1930s, and the planet whose population are strong emulators reinvented their society around gangland Chicago with districts controlled by Al Capone style mobsters surrounded by gun molls and henchmen with machine guns.  

At one point in the show Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock need a distraction and a local boy, played by Sheldon, offers to provide this in exchange for cutting him on the score…or getting “a piece of the action”. 

This was his only appearance on Star Trek and following a guest appearance on a 1972 television show he completely retired from acting at the age of 17. 

He studied biology at California State University earning a Bachelors Degree, and his interest in biology and physiology let him to study dentistry, earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Iowa.

Now age 66 Dr. Golomb works as a dentist in Colorado.  An interview in 1995 explains that Dr. Golomb aged out of child acting roles and grew disillusioned watching his peers burn out and become bitter.  His academic success proved the route into a new career.  The same interview describes Dr. Golomb’s office as displaying autographed photos from various co-stars from his acting days.   

The website for his dental office makes no secret of Dr. Golomb’s past in the entertainment industry, and even says he is still a big fan of Star Trek.

I have no idea the volume of mail he receives from nostalgic television watchers.  I mailed this autograph request to his office in June, and received them back in March, although its likely the COVID-19 Pandemic slowed down non-essential correspondence from a medical practitioner. 

Dr. Golomb moved on from Star Trek and acting, and by all accounts has been very successful, and I hope he wasn’t upset by the intrusion of my letter to his dental office.  Hopefully it was a reminder that his work from many years ago is still enjoyed. 

Website and Podcast update

I’ve been lazy, and since building my placeholder website a couple of weeks ago and hadn’t bothered to connect the site to the domain.  I sat down and did it today.  It took less than five minutes. Wix informed me that the setup would happen by Monday but it was done in less than an hour. is now live.  The website isn’t perfect, but its more professional looking than directing people to this poorly maintained WordPress blog. 

The site needs more content. Currently we have penciled in recording our first interview on the weekend, assuming our subject is available.  We are hoping to record by zoom rather than by phone so we can record multiple channels. 

Tim who does all the editing on two and change is too busy to edit this show, so I will have to teach myself how to edit audio once we have the interview to work with.  I started playing around with audacity this afternoon and it doesn’t seem like rocket science.

After all these pandemic induced delays it looks like this will be up and running soon.

After all these pandemic induced delays it looks like this will be up and running soon.

Building a website

I have owned the web domain for years.  I remember checking one night to see if was available.  It was, and I figured I would buy it in the morning, only to find that while I slept someone else had snapped it up. It was purchased by a woman from the United States.  She used it to publish her creative writing before she let it expire. 

Later I was contacted by someone in China who wanted to sell it to me for $300 and when I declined lowered their price to $150.  I still declined, seeing as I didn’t even bother using my dot ca domain for anything.

Now that we have our podcasting equipment up and running, I figured we needed a real web presence to seem professional.  I am old enough that I remember dabbling with some of the earlier website builders like geocities, although I was never very good at it. 

I just used to build a rudimentary placeholder website to connect jordandrewdotca to.  At this point it serves as just a hub to link to this blog and my social media pages, and we have a placeholder for when we start releasing episodes of the podcast. 

I expect once we have more audio content I will have to create a new, more beefy website, but this is good enough for now. 

Perhaps something creative will be built out of this lockdown. 

Lezlie Dalton – Drea in “Star Trek : By Any Other Name”

Here in Ontario the Pandemic is continuing to rage on.  At this point two of my extended family members have contracted the virus.  One of them never had more than a mild sniffle, but the other who has chronic health conditions has been suffering terribly.  A friend of mine in England evidently contracted the UK mutation from his wife and says he has never felt worse. 

At this point we are forbidden from leaving our houses for anything other than food, work, or medical appointments and anyone who can work from home must work from home.

So obviously I don’t leave the house much.  However, I do check the mailbox every day and today I got another response to my pandemic hobby of sending Star Trek fanmail.

Today the response was from Lezlie Dalton who played Drea in the season three episode “By Any Other Name”.  This was a strange episode about a group of shapeshifting and teleporting aliens who take over the Enterprise and turn most of the crew into Styrofoam cubes before Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Scotty teach them about emotions by giving them drugs, kissing them, and plying them with whisky. 

Like I said, it’s a weird episode. 

Lezlie was originally from Massachusetts and Star Trek appears to have been one of her first television acting jobs.  After Trek she appeared regularly with Dean Martin on a show called “Golddiggers” in the 1960s and early 70s.  During the mid-70s she did occasional guest work before landing a long term role as Elizabeth Grainville Spaulding on the soap opera “Guiding Light”, appearing between 1977 and 1981. 

I have casual familiarity with that show as a watched it intermittently before its cancellation.  From what I can see online her character was married to the villain Alan Spaulding and adopted his son Philip, and was evidently the namesake for his daughter Lizzie.  She did a guest spot on the long running soap “Search for Tomorrow” in 1983 and then appears to have retired from television acting.

While I am not certain what she has been up to over the past few decades it has evidently kept her busy. 

The letter I received from her explains that she has been travelling in and out of her home in New York and has recently returned to find an enormous pile of mail from Trekkies.  As you can see from the letter she was clearly aware that the pile has become jumbled.  The first photo I received is one that I sent her.  It is a behind the scene image rescued from a piece of discarded film by the archivist Gerald Gurian.  The second one, a smaller image, is not one that I sent her, so hopefully another Trekkie doesn’t end up disappointed.    

It’s nice that even after 50 years she is receptive to fan letters, especially when they pile up on her desk in her absence.  Whatever she is up to now, I hope she is happy and knows that her performance and career is still appreciated. 

Pandemic fatigue

I could have sworn that I did my most recent post in December, but when I looked at the blog today, I discovered I haven’t uploaded any content since September.  I am finding that the days blend into each other more and more and I lose track of how much time has passed.  I’ve been working at home for months, so unless I am getting groceries, I never leave the house.

There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  The COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out.  My friend who works as a PSW in a nursing home tells me she is scheduled to get her first dose next week. 

Never-the-less people are getting stir crazy and are generally unwilling to voluntarily stay home any longer. My friend who lives in a Toronto grey zone, came to London Ontario in order to be in the slightly less restrictive red zone for the Christmas holidays.

She certainly wasn’t the only one, and Ontario has declared that as of Boxing Day the entire province is on grey-zone lockdown for the next two weeks to prevent the pandemic from overwhelming our health care system. 

The autograph collecting hobby has been a nice excuse to take a walk around the block at lunch to check the mailbox, but I miss gathering with people.  I had no idea how extroverted I was until I was stuck in a basement. 

Hopefully life returns to normal someday.  Until then stay safe everyone. 

Andrea Dromm – Yeoman Smith in “Star Trek : Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Very little is known about Andrea Dromm, and that seems to be how she likes it.  Originally from the eastern United States, Andrea was cast as “Yeoman Smith” in Star Trek’s second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  She worked for four days on the show an appeared in a handful of scenes, most notably a brief confrontation with William Shatner and leaning on Gary Lockwood for support while the Enterprise passes thru the galactic barrier.

Although Desilu had an option to retain her as a recurring character in the series, Andrea opted instead to appear in the Norman Jewison film “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming”.  After a handful of acting and talk show appearances she became better known as a model for haircare products before abandoning her career in the early 1970s. 

She hasn’t given an interview since 1988.

She was kind enough to autograph these photos I sent her.  I asked her in my letter if she could be a guest on our Star Trek podcast.  She scribbled an answer that she was considering it, but left no e-mail or telephone number with which we can communicate.  Once the podcast is more established we will try sending another letter. 

Although her appearance is a footnote in Star Trek with a lot of questions about what might have been, the fact that 50 years later she is still willing to answer fan mail suggests she doesn’t regret being part of Star Trek, or even appreciates the continued attention.

Thanks Andrea

Garrison True – Security Guard in “Star Trek : The Man Trap”

When Star Trek was originally commissioned Gene Roddenberry created a pilot called “The Cage”.  When this wasn’t picked up Lucille Ball personally authorized the creation of a second pilot called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  The Pilot convinced NBC to commission a series from Desilu, but it was decided that the pilot didn’t have enough action of sci-fi elements to effectively open the series.  In the end NBC opted to use the fifth episode of the series “The Man Trap” as a vehicle to launch its new show.

This is the episode with the iconic “Salt Vampire” that sneaks aboard the Enterprise in the form of a crewman.  In this episode Garrison True played an unidentified security guard (also known as a “redshirt”) who interacts with the Salt Vampire in human form. 

Later when the Salt Vampire is being hunted on the ship he is seen again standing guard duty. 

Despite having lines he did not receive on screen credit for this role.

From the 1960s until the 1980s he was a working actor on various shows, including a notable stint on the soap opera General Hospital during its heyday in the early 1980s.  Most recently he was on an episode of “Criminal Minds” in 2013. 

Later in his career he became a casting director and acting teacher. 

As you can see from his correspondence now aged 86 he generally declines to sign autographs but says he made an exception for me, and even requested copies of the photos I sent.  They were dutifully printed and mailed this afternoon.   

To be honest, I have often wondered why any of the Star Trek actors continue to respond to fan mail, especially when the autograph requests are not accompanied by payment.  I get the impression that many of them are just happy that decades later their performances are still appreciated and remembered. 

Teri Garr – Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek : Assignment Earth

One of the most successful actresses to get her start on the original Star Trek series is Teri Garr, who played Roberta Lincoln in the second season finale “Assignment : Earth”. 

This is also one of the strangest episodes of Star Trek because in many ways its not really an episode of Star Trek.  Due to poor performance NBC cancelled Star Trek during its second season.  A legendary letter writing campaign convinced NBC to commission another year, with a worse time-slot, and a much lower budget. However, before that happened Gene Roddenberry started looking for another job. 

His plan was what is known as a “back-door pilot” – that is use an episode of his existing show to preview his proposed replacement show.  In other words, make a Star Trek spinoff.

In this episode (and proposed series) a human agent named Gary Seven (played by the late Robert Lansing) has been trained by altruistic aliens to be their agent on planet Earth to prevent its destruction by nuclear apocalypse.  He meets a woman named Roberta Lincoln (played by Garr) who he assumes is another agent, but is really just a young woman looking for a job as a secretary in the office that serves as a front for the room containing his alien technology, such as a typewriter that takes voice dictation. 

The Enterprise, having travelled back in time intercepts Seven and after hijinks ensue with a couple of police officers, they assist Mr. Seven in stopping the launch of a nuclear weapons satellite.  At the end of the episode Roberta takes the job of Seven’s secretary while Kirk and Spock wish them well in their future adventures, thus setting up the Assignment Earth television series.

Ultimately NBC passed on the concept and Star Trek chugged along for another year until it ran out of steam.  The characters occasionally show up in star trek licensed media such as the Assignment Earth comic book series and the Peter David novels detailing the rise of Khan Noonian Singh (which brilliantly weave together most of the 20th century characters from the varies series) 

Teri Garr’s relationship with Star Trek seems to have been like many connected to the show: at times it has been dismissive and resentful, and at other times warm and appreciative. 

During an infamous interview in 1990 with Starlog Magazine she said things like “I did that years ago and I mostly deny I did it” and expressed relief that Assignment Earth didn’t go to series so she could avoid a life-time of Star Trek conventions. In her 2006 autobiography “Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood” she describes Roberta Lincoln as an important break thru in her career and a steppingstone to some of the comedy parts she was later cast in.

During the early 1970s she was often typecast as what she describes as “ditsy blonds” in sitcoms, but these jobs led her to Mel Brooks who cast her as Inga, a blond bombshell with an absurd eastern European accent in the comedy “Young Frankenstein”. 

In the late 1970s her career progressed to more serious work, and she returned to science fiction in the landmark film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” directed by Steven Spielberg, although in that infamous Starlog interview she claimed she didn’t think of that film as being science fiction. 

By the early 1980s her career had progressed to the point where she was cast in the Dustin Hoffman film “Tootsie”.  It was for this film she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (she lost to Jessica Lange who also appeared in the film). 

It was during the making of Tootsie that her life started an enormous change.  While making the film in New York she went jogging in central park and started feeling tingling in her leg.  Over the next two decades she would have progressively worse symptoms until a doctor finally diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999.   In 2007 she suffered a brain aneurysm unrelated to MS and was in a coma.  For decades her witty banter made her a favourite guest of David Letterman who asked her on the show many times, and she triumphantly made a return appearance in 2008 making fun of her medical ailments, although noticeably walking with a limp.  Reportedly her symptoms have worsened in recent years to the point where she often uses a wheelchair and a personal support worker.

Evidently, she was feeling well enough to deal with fan mail as this week I received three autographed photos of her as Roberta Lincoln.  If there is any remaining resentment of Star Trek, she does not take it out on the fans who ask her to sign things.

As you can see from these images her signature has become a bit rough as her symptoms have worsened.  Under the circumstances I would not have blamed her for throwing my envelope in the garbage.  If I was in my mid 70s with major health setbacks, I do not imagine I would want to sign 50-year-old photographs.  Never-the-less I will put these on the wall and treasure them, just like I treasure this show.

Susan Howard – Kara the Klingon from Star Trek : Day of the Dove

Working from home during the pandemic I am unable to get out of the house very much.  Sometimes I have considered unplugging my computer and working on the patio but that does not seem conductive to focused digital labour.  Instead, one of the few times in the day where I get to see the sun is during my lunch break when I check the mail to see if any new Star Trek autograph requests have come back.

I got my first Return to Sender last week.  Four weeks before I had sent a request to Harry Basch who played a robot in the episode “What are Little Girls Made of”.  Sadly, it turns out Mr. Basch died five weeks ago.

Today I got one back from the actress Susan Howard. Susan played Mara, wife of Klingon Commander Kang in the episode “Day of the Dove”.  Susan is one of the few female Klingons portrayed on The Original Series, and the only one to perform any lines.

After Star Trek she continued to guest star until she replaced Diana Muldaur as one of the cast members of the lawyer show “Petrocelli” in 1974, continuing until it was cancelled two years later. During that time she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Her career defining role was as Donna Culver Krebbs on the primetime soap opera “Dallas” during the 1980s.

Since then she took a deep dive into republican politics.  She served in the leadership of the National Rifle Association and at one point was co-host of the televangelist “The 700 Club” and continues to speak at Republican events in favour of firearms and the Christian church.

Suffice to say my political leanings are very different from hers. I’m sure we would have a lot of fun arguing if we were ever to speak.  Never-the-less it was very kind of her to autograph these for me.