In February 1992, some 780,000 visitors turned out for the opening of the 'Star Trek' exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Gene Roddenberry made the point in 1986, "I doubt it's ever been completely figured out why the show has lasted so long. Most of Hollywood has been wrong in trying to find a formula that did it. I think it's because it's a very optimistic view of the future, and it's hard for young people to turn away from that. It says that mankind's is just beginning." 

The original 'Star Trek' series ran between 1966 and 1969. Gene who was a former pilot and policeman started developing 'Star Trek' for television in 1960. In all, some 79 episodes of the original show were filmed and shown. Gene recalled 20 years later, "The show was not right for when it came out. Very few people believed in space flight, and some of the concepts we introduced, like a black woman in the crew, people just didn’t like. But by 1972, it was playing to more people (in syndication) than when it was on during prime time (on network television)." 

In the November 22, 1968 episode of 'Plato's Stepchildren', 'Star Trek' featured a controversial interracial kiss between Uhura and Captain Kirk. The art curator in charge of the 1992 exhibition observed, "It has an uncanny way of focusing in on things of concern to people at a time when they feel ready for that. It's an indication of where America is at the time – it has its finger on the pulse. It does the kinds of things most dramatic TV shows would avoid like the plague. Yet it seems to know how to disguise it enough not to be politically offensive, while being open enough so that people feel satisfaction at being considered. It’s truly an important cultural artifact of the 20th century." 

There were 12 'Star Trek' motion pictures made so far and were shown in the years 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2009 and 2013. The successful 'Star Trek: The Next Generation" syndication series premiered in 1987. DeForest Kelley made the observation in 1986, "When the show started, it was during the hippie period, young people were confused. When they saw this show, it struck a chord with them. The Federation as it's represented, the people were seeking out peaceful aspects of the universe, they approached every alien and every object as something not to destroy. It presented a positive force." 

Leonard Nimoy told Don Freeman of The Blade in 1971, "Don't let this get around but we were really doing 'Gunsmoke' with spaceships. Now Spock was a kind of Chester, different from others physically. Bill Shatner as the captain of the Enterprise was our own Marshal Dillon. DeForrest Kelly, as our ship’s doctor, was Doc. Nichelle Nichols was our Kitty. And whereas 'Gunsmoke' had the Old West as its frontier, we had space, the unknown frontiers. They wore cowboy outfits, we wore funny suits. I'm also willing to bet that some of our scripts were old 'Gunsmoke' storylines, with a few changes. But it all worked. We had a very good show going despite a shaky beginning for the Spock character. At first the network wanted to drop Spock, or at least dispense with those ears. They understood the marshal and the deputy, or the aging lawyer and the young rebel out of law school, or the old doctor and the young intern. But some stoic guy with pointy ears from another planet? That troubled them. I always thought of acting as an art form, a way of expressing colors from an emotional palette." 

In the wake of the 1968 Baltimore riots, the professor of speech, Fred Casmir of Pepperdine College in Los Angeles published his study, 'The Influence of Television in Racial Unrest'. The Professor remarked, "Individuals working with the television medium need to become considerably more aware of the ways in which their messages are received, rather than being satisfied with pointing to the intentions of the broadcaster. Meaning is found in the mind and understanding of the receiver, not in the message or the words used. Findings discussed in this paper strongly suggest that many of the racial disturbances may very likely be much less racial and much more economic in nature, the racial part being vital only because of the disadvantaged position in which the Negro finds himself as a group." 

In 1972, milliner (or hatter) Frank Olive attended a party to launch the Diana Ross' movie, 'Lady Sings The Blues', at the Plaza Hotel. He remembered, "The young black women were smashingly chic with slinky evening gowns and their hair hidden in matching or contrasting turbans. The average middle-class white American is still going to the hairdresser's for a teased-up coiffure to top her evening clothes. Blacks have moved beyond that limiting fashion point. Thanks to blacks, jewelry is getting bolder, accessories are more dashing, colors are gregarious and hats are back. The blacks have true identity. They know who they are and they want to be seen and heard. Caucasians cannot emulate the whole black bit but they do pick up bits and pieces. The blacks are subtly transmitting their excitement and adventurous attitude about headgear to white women who wear hats and gloves as occasional etiquette...Fashion is a way to simultaneously overcome assumed or real suppression and create a best-dressed signature." 

Arguing fashion was a reflection of contemporary life and thought, Frank credited Jackie Kennedy for edifying the pillbox sitting atop a bouffant coiffure. However when she became Jackie Onassis, "she dropped hats when there was no more of a need to project an image of propriety." It wasn't until 1978 hats became fashionable again. During the dry spell, Frank told the Milwaukee Sentinel fashion editor, Vivian Kawatzky in 1979, "It wasn't easy. I've always made hats, but I even made dresses, knitwear. I worked with the theater, the airlines...we had all kinds of things that helped me pull through...It was a rough period when I used every ounce of energy to be productive – or to survive. I did. I had to work twice as hard just to balance out, but another season like this (1978-79) and I will be on top of the world." 

Frank acknowledged, "It was rather difficult coming here." Frank came to New York in 1954. "I had ability and talent and I had a costume design background from California and I came here thinking the world was rosy and beautiful – and it was really some big jungle." However "that's an exciting thing about New York. It's a jungle – and it's my favorite city in the whole world. You can be the poorest guy on the sidewalk and you never know if you're going to meet a prince or a pauper…it's very easy to meet people." 

Frank was matter-of-fact, "Today (in 1979) a designer is not just a designer. He has to be involved with banking, has to travel, has to be a public relations man. You can't be isolated. At one time when I went to school, they taught me how to sketch and make a pattern and you thought that was going to get you through life. You have to know your public...you study to know what your customers' needs are." Frank credited the renewed interest in hats at the time to the "the young people...the flower children." 

Pointing out, "Maybe not like doing the finest painting but making money is creative as I've discovered too late in my life." Frank said on reflection, "I was a very inventive person. I came (to New York) to learn how to take creativity and marry it to productivity. I knew that tomorrow there would be no hands, there is no labor left...and I came out with a good product…It's strange isn't it? My parents never made me feel uncomfortable...I probably discovered creativity at Walker Junior High School where I had a wonderful art instructor. She took interest in me as a person. She showed me my various talents in the arts – pottery, sculpting, sensitivity to color...I was always doing something creative. I adored to sketch and paint and do crafts. I had never planned to be a milliner and yet – when I think back – even as a young boy in school, I used to make hats and get a buck or 2. When I was a kid, I used to make my aunt's hats and she would give me 50 cents."

Blog Archive