EW compares the views of Gene Roddenberry in two very different takes on his life

By Erica Kornberg
June 17, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Biography…the final frontier. The life of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek‘s creator, is the subject of two books that seem to have been written in separate galaxies. There is Joel Engel’s unflattering unauthorized bio, Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind ”Star Trek,” published in May. And there is the kinder, gentler portrait of him in the new ”Star Trek” Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, by David Alexander. Below, their very different takes on Roddenberry and his universe.

Alexander on Roddenberry
Science Fiction Expertise
“Gene’s interest in science fiction had not abated. He continued to be the ever-avid reader and filmgoer.”

Modesty Quotient
“Gene did a great deal of work (on Star Trek) that, while paid for, was uncredited.”

Generosity Quotient
“Sometimes it was difficult to be generous, though Gene was not afraid to give credit where credit was due.”

Sobriety (Or Lack Thereof)
“Gene went through Schick Shadel’s aversion therapy…. The aversion procedure did not work and Gene began drinking again, but in moderation — a couple of drinks with lunch or a glass of wine or two in the evening. No more drinking in the morning.”

Cast Relations
“Gene faced the inevitable metamorphosis of actors-grateful-to-have-a-job into actors-who-want-more: more money, more lines, more camera time, more close-ups, …more everything.”

Engel on Roddenberry
Science Fiction Expertise
“Correspondence pertaining to Roddenberry’s visits with [writer Sam] Peeples suggests that the Star Trek creator had a limited knowledge of science fiction and its purveyors.”

Modesty Quotient
“He made certain that every piece of in-house literature…and any reference that would be seen by others, noted that he’d been the creator.”

Generosity Quotient
“[H]e might have given thanks where deserved at no detriment to himself. But as the years passed, Roddenberry…assumed credit that belonged to others.”

Sobriety (Or Lack Thereof)
“Roddenberry’s sobriety, begun at the Schick Shadel Hospital lasted at most three months. Apart from drinking immediately upon awakening, Roddenberry also variously ingested both prescribed and illegal substances and a range of diet pills.”

Cast Relations
“‘My business dealings with him were always miserable,’ Leonard Nimoy says. ‘Gene always had an agenda-his own.’… Nimoy [fought him] over the unauthorized sale of his image.”

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