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 jordandrew.ca 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.  www.jordandrew.ca 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 jordandrew.ca web domain for years.  I remember checking one night to see if jordandrew.com 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 Wix.com 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. 

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.

Barbara Baldavin – Angela Martine from Star Trek

As previously posted, lately I have been communicating with various cast members from Star Trek : The Original Series and asking for autographs.  Since I am not getting out much because of COVID there is not much to write about on this blog, and I thought I would occasionally provide an update as they come back to me.

This week I got a response from Barbara Baldavin.  Barbara may have had a foot in the door at the show as she was married to Joseph D’Agosta, the casting director at Desilu who therefore cast most of the actors on Star Trek, as well as the Lucy Show and Mission Impossible.  In occasions when the show needed a generic crew member D’Anosta turned to his circle of actors, and more than once asked his wife to play a part.

Baldavin first appeared in the season one episode “Balance of Terror” as Angela Martine, a female weapons officer whose wedding is interrupted by a Romulan attack.

That same season she was cast again in “Shore Leave” as a generic female crew member who beams down to a planet that can make your dreams come true.  Although scripted as a different character, when the production crew realized she had been in Balance of Terror they referred to the character as “Angela Martine”.

At the end of the first season she returned to play a character called “Baker” in “Space Seed” but her performance was removed in the final cut of the episode.

At the end of the series she returned for the series finale “Turnabout Intruder”.  Nichelle Nichols who played communications officer Uhura was unavailable due to a singing engagement and they needed a generic female crew member to say her lines.  She is called “Lt. Lisa” in this episode, but most fans have retconned her as playing Angela again.

After Star Trek she was a recurring cast member in the 1970s TV series “Medical Center”, and made guest appearances on popular television in the 70s such as “Charlie’s Angels”, “Baretta”, “Fantasy Island” and “The Bionic Woman” however by the 1980s she made a career shift into the casting department, working as casting director or casting assistant on shows like “Trapper John M.D.”, and “Dynasty”.

I sent her three photos, one from each episode she appeared, in and she was kind enough to sign them all. I should note she herself seems to have retconned her appearances to be all the same character.

If she ever sees this, thank you very much for signing these, and thank you for being a part of Star Trek.

William Smithers and the Wizard of Sacramento : An E-Book Review

As explained in my previous post lately I have been communicating with performers from Star Trek : The Original Series.  Last week I received a reply from William Smithers who played Captain Merik in the second season episode “Bread and Circuses” which Roddenberry intended to be the final proper episode of Star Trek before the backdoor pilot “Assignment Earth” launched a new series.

Mr. Smithers, now 93 years old, was kind enough to sign a photograph of himself in character and included a business card with a link to his website.  From here I learned that in 2018 he published an e-book called “The Wizard of Sacramento”, which analyzes the political career and leadership style of former California Governor Jerry Brown.  I also saw that Mr. Smithers enjoys it when readers interact with the document and publish reviews.  Considering he was kind enough to sign an autograph for me, the least I could do was read his book.

The cost of entry is not onerous.  American Amazon sells the e-book for .99 cents, while the Canadian side sells it for $1.32 Canadian.  As I do not have a kindle I purchased the pdf version on Smashwords, and was even gifted a coupon for my first purchase.

Coming in at 35 pages, this document can easily be read in one short sitting.  As Smithers himself explains this document is much too long to be an op-ed piece, and to short to publish as a traditional book, but modern digital publication standards provide a nice middle ground.

Smithers carefully limits the scope of this publication.  It is not a biography, but rather an independent assessment of Jerry Brown’s performance as Governor of California, with particular attention to his most recent years in office.

At first glance the title may suggest to the reader that Mr. Smithers is enamored by the California Governor. However, this publication is not a hagiography.

While never directly calling the governor corrupt, Smither tees up examples from Brown’s administration to allow the reader to inevitably reach this conclusion themselves.  While never directly saying it, Smithers appears to object to the role of money within the American political system and the necessity of Brown and the Democratic Party to bend to the will of the energy companies in order to obtain the capital necessary for political survival.

Smithers juxtaposes Brown’s reputation as an effective leader who turned around California’s ailing economy using environmental deregulation, with the negative environmental and health externalities his decisions have downloaded onto California’s less affluent and often minority populations.  This is touched upon in Chapter Two where he describes how working-class families in California’s less affluent Kern County watched toxic disposal facilities created near their homes and farms.  Smithers uses Kern county as the canary in the coal mine for Brown’s leadership style – that it signaled his reelection did not require low income nonwhite farmers – and that his continued deregulation and nonexistent oversight of California’s energy companies systematically endangered the health and lives of Californians.

Chapter Three of the document is among the most effective.  In this part of the book Smithers explains how nonexistent legal oversight was replaced by a significantly watered-down bill requiring oil and gas companies to test their sites and the waste water they generated and provided a long grace period for these companies to build the infrastructure and human capital required to ensure compliance.  Never-the-less as Smithers explains using material from the Los Angeles Times, many of these companies did not bother complying with the testing or reporting requirements, or when they did feign compliance much of the required data was missing from their reports.  Smithers’ writing suggests the governor’s strategic inaction effectively invalidated any attempts to hold the oil and gas companies accountable.

This brings us to Chapter Four, a short two-page chapter where Smithers recounts a class action lawsuit filed by Californians against Governor Brown to allege his administration was engaged in racketeering.  In this example Brown is complicit in the oil and gas companies flouting reporting requirements in exchange for political donations.

The document continues by mapping out the scandals Brown experienced in office.  One of the scandals actually involved a literal map, where Governor Brown allegedly used state resources to have a graphic analysis of land he owned created to be analyzed for potential oil wells, with the obvious conclusion that Brown wanted to enrich himself by cashing-in on his own deregulation program.  Smithers’ expands that Governor Brown’s justification of his use of public resources for this purpose – that all Californians can request such a service – is shattered by the fact that there is no evidence of anyone else receiving the same service, others who requested the same service were refused, and that Brown’s own staff in the agency filed a whistleblower complaint against him.

Chapter Six consists of extensive quotations related to a watchdog analysis of Brown, and by extension the Democratic Party of California.   This suggests that Brown and the Democratic Party were focused on campaign revenue at the expense of environmental protection – even suggesting that the party was using questionable measures to evade existent campaign contribution limitations.

Chapter Seven describes environmental damage caused by industry inaction in Aliso county, and suggests that Brown’s inaction to rectify the situation, and his strangely timed announcement of a state of emergency were caused by the appearance of the Governor’s sister on the board of the offending oil and gas company, Sempa Energy. While Smithers’ never outright calls this either nepotism or corruption, the reader is clearly directed to this conclusion.

Smithers’ conclusive writing in Chapter Nine is some of his most effective and I will quote it here:

“…Brown, throughout his second occupancy of California’s state house, has bathed in the financial rewards oil/gas/energy conglomerates provided his campaigns, Oakland charter schools, preferred ballot measures and media coverage, while in return he has assured almost every program, legislative agenda, governmental appointment, regulatory posture and regulatory inaction desired by them. And in so doing he endangered the health, safety and lives of many Californians”.

Having summarized some of Mr. Smithers’ writing and conclusions, I should now analyze the publication itself on its merits.

Ultimately, at 35 pages this document is not a deep dive into California politics or the Governing philosophy of Jerry Brown. While never directly calling Brown or his administration corrupt, obligated to monied interests in the oil and gas industry, or uninterested in environmental and minority protection, Smithers’ uses his research to create a roadmap for the audience to reach this conclusion via their interaction with the text.  At-times the organization of the document is uneven.  Some chapters are heavy on analysis, while others are drowning in quotations from other publications.

This document is not a landmark publication on the subject, rather it is a jumping off point to aid the reader in future research into California politics in general, and Governor Brown in particular.    In the end, I believe this is what William Smithers was aiming for, and he has effectively executed that goal.

“The Wizard of Sacramento : Governor Jerry Brown” by William Smithers is available digitally from both Amazon and Smashwords.  Mr. Smithers’ official website, with more information about his career, including an enormous archive of his Santa Barbara talk show can also be found at http://williamsmithers.com.  Those who enjoyed this document can also find free of charge a large selection of Mr. Smithers’ op-ed pieces republished on his website.  While this publication is perhaps only tangentially interesting to fans of the Star Trek television series, anyone with an interest in environmentalism, government, and politics will enjoy reading it.

I would like to finish this blogpost by again thanking Mr. Smithers for responding to my autograph request, for being part of a series which has given me great enjoyment in my life, and for his long-dedication to holding a mirror to the society in which he lives.