On this day in pop culture history: Trekkies gathered for the first ‘Star Trek’ convention

Fan conventions are big business now, with attendees paying hundreds of dollars for front-row seats, autographs, and photo ops with their favorite TV stars.

But in 1972, a convention that gathered fans and gave them the chance to meet their TV idols was a rather new concept. It was in that year, from January 21-23, that Trekkies got together for what”s often recognized as the first true “Star Trek” convention.

A convention specifically for enthusiasts of the Gene Roddenberry show had been organized before – in March 1969, at the Newark Public Library – though that event did not have any celebrity guests. It did feature a slide show of “Star Trek” aliens, skits, and a fan panel discussion.

The January 1972 con was held at the Statler Hilton Hotel (now Hotel Pennsylvania) in New York, and among the celebrity guests were Roddenberry, Majel Barrett, D.C. Fontana. The legend goes that 500 people were expected to attend, but over 3,000 Trekkies showed up. That was two and a half years after the canceled original series aired its final episode, but the fandom was alive and well and growing. 

Other notable January 21 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1957: Filming began on Elvis Presley film “Loving You.”

• 1957: Chuck Berry recorded his single “School Days” in Chicago.

• 1968: The soundtrack album for “The Graduate” was released.

• 1980: Art Garfunkel guest-starred on an episode of “Laverne and Shirley.”

• 1984: Bon Jovi”s self-titled debut album was released in the U.S. It got a U.K. release the following April.

• 1987: B.B. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sting was his presenter.

• 1995: At the 52nd Golden Globes, big winners were “Forrest Gump” and “The Lion King.” 

• 1996: At the 53rd Golden Globes, among the winners were Emma Thompson, for writing the “Sense and Sensibility” script, and Brad Pitt, for his performance in “12 Monkeys.”

• 2000: “The Boondock Saints” opened in a very limited theatrical release, on five screens in the U.S. It would later gain a cult following via DVD release.