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Look Back … to a Star Trek convention in Huntsville, 1996

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On a Sept. 9 front page dominated by coverage of the Morro Castle disaster off the coast of New Jersey, local political news also found a home, specifically regarding the upcoming Oxford municipal election.

Sept. 9, 1946, in The Star: A young naval veteran who hails from this part of the country might have a screen career ahead of him. Richard Wagnon happened to be in the city of Hollywood, Calif., when a talent scout reportedly stopped him in the street and said he ought to report to the Twentieth Century Fox studio for a screen test. He did, and several weeks later he did so again, and now Wagnon has a seven-year contract to play juvenile roles for the studio under the stage name Bob Vanderbilt. Born in Anniston as the son of Mr. and Mrs. P. L. Wagnon, he was moved to Ohatchee and later to Gadsden, which he now considers home. That’s where he’s visiting prior to traveling to New York to take part in a stage show, after which he will return to Hollywood to appear in pictures. Wagnon has an uncle, F. E. Bernard, who lives in Anniston, and two aunts, Mrs. H. L. McCullars and Mrs. William Broom, who are of the Alexandria region.

Sept. 9, 1996, in The Star: Science fiction met science fact yesterday as the 30th anniversary Star Trek convention came to a close at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville. Two of television’s most famous fictional space travelers, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, shared the stage with three NASA astronauts — Fred Haise, Ed Mitchell and Charlie Duke — and everybody talked shop, in this case, science shop: about exploring Mars, warp speed, and so forth. Not everybody at the convention was there because of Star Trek. NASA set up some popular displays of its real space missions, including the planned international space station now being worked on in Huntsville. No NASA workers were allowed to dress as Star Trek characters, however.