|Click the image: Shatner in Columbia, SC Christmas parade—11/29/68|
Twitter's @moonriverseeker just pinged me out of the blue today to ask about the source of this photo—obviously, Shatner doing a Captain Kirk local appearance to promote Trek in the '60s, one of many at the behest of NBC. (Leonard Nimoy has written about an infamous one he was a part of that changed his Spock outlook forever.)
Dealing with a university archive, I can't grab an embed code to share it intact here, but the link is easy enough to find. After all, I did it in about 10 minutes, just off the watermark of the frame grab—thanks to some basic guesswork and an excellent online browser of the University of South Carolina's MIRC archives. Turns out this is from B-roll film of the annual Columbia, S.C. Christmas Parade from Nov. 29, 1968, shot by WNOK News (now WLTX). (Well, that was easy.) The Shatner footage starts at 1:27, and is simple and yet oh so revealing ...
There's a bigger context, here too—after all, this is tumultuous 1968, year of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King's assasinations, racial strife, the Vietnam Tet offensive and anti-war protests hounding LBJ from running again. What also strikes me is how both whites and blacks are somewhat mixed here on the sidewalk as parade-goers, as some glints of racial social integration are finally starting to take hold, even in South Carolina. On a lighter note, check out how crisp and sharp Shatner's costumed Kirk looks, just sitting in an open convertible—even in black and white—against the cold drab gray downtown of Columbia, and likely many other medium-sized cities?
BTW, what's up with that? Local TV news still shooting in B&W in 1968? They reasoned most of their viewing audience had not yet jumped up to color? The local OKC stations had mostly gone to color by 1968, I'm sure of it. Sure, for film the color chemistry was a pain—no videotape yet either?
So, today's moral: Who knows how many more treasures are out there courtesy of local news cameras, even local home movies, that ought to be preserved as local snapshots in time, and even turn out to have national interest?
Once again, I'll climb on my soapbox to plead with you all to preserve your local pop culture history—either by yourself, starting with your Trek or sci-fi / genre club looking into local roots and imagery and interview subjects ... or at least by finding out how you can help those, like MIRC at South Carolina, who already hip-deep into it.
Just because we're digging into a little chapter of Houston Trek history doesn't mean it can't go on all over the world.