Bjo Trimble, along with husband John, have made huge contributions to Star Trek and the Trek fandom over many decades. The couple is credited with spearheading a letter-writing campaign to “Save Star Trek” when the show was facing cancellation after its second season. Bjo is the preferred nickname of the woman born Betty JoAnne Conway.
Women at Warp recounts that the couple met “under [sci-fi writer] Forrest J. Ackerman’s piano at a party,” and the rest was history. She ultimately married John Trimble, and the two helped save Star Trek when it was in danger of being canceled after its second season.
Here’s what you need to know about this fandom power couple.
1. Bjo & John Trimble Helped Save ‘Star Trek’ Early On
Bjo and John Trimble were already sci-fi fans who attended sci-fi conventions by the time Star Trek was on the air. How the two first met Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, is a subject covered in Bjo Trimble’s memoir, On the Good Ship Enterprise: My 15 Years with Star Trek. The story of how Trimble met Roddenberry was discussed more recently at Geek Frontiers, for those who can’t track down a copy of Trimble’s memoir from the 1980s. According to Geek Frontiers account, Bjo Trimble and Roddenberry first crossed paths when Trimble was heading up a futuristic fashion show at the same sci-fi convention where Roddenberry was screening early Star Trek episodes. Roddenberry wanted to showcase some of the show’s costumes at the convention, and Trimble agreed. That meeting would prove fortuitous for both: Roddenberry eventually hired Bjo to work for him, and Bjo helped save Roddenberry’s show from cancellation.
During Star Trek‘s second season, rumors abounded that the series was going to be canceled. Bjo & John started a letter-writing campaign to get the show renewed, whic had nationwide appeal to fans of the series, with some fans even organizing protests to save the show.
The LA Times has re-published an article from their archives, which originally reported on a Caltech student protest designed to save the series. Originally published in January of 1968, the piece reported “a throng of more than 200 chanting, banner-waving Caltech scholars conducted a torchlight procession through the streets of Burbank to carry a protest to the steps of the National Broadcasting Company.”
According to the report, one fan at the Caltech rally even held a poster reading: “It Is Totally Illogical to Cancel Star Trek”.
2. The Trimbles Also Worked for Roddenberry
After becoming friendly with Roddenberry and visiting the set of Star Trek, Bjo and her husband were eventually hired to work for Lincoln Enterprises, originally known as Star Trek Enterprises. Lincoln Enterprises was the merchandising arm of the Star Trek media empire, run by Roddenberry and Majel Barrett. Lincoln Enterprises ran the Trek fanclub, as well as selling autographed merch to fans.
In an interview with Joseph Dickerson, Bjo Trimble stated that her role at Lincoln Enterprises occasionally placed in her opposition to Majel Barrett, herself a former Star Trek actress and wife of Gene Roddenberry.
“[Majel] came in and wanted to completely reorganize everything,” Bjo stated. “For instance, tribbles would have been a good idea, but she wanted to add Spock ears to them, and give them long eyelashes and make them chirp. And we said, ‘No, they won’t sell.’ Well, she ordered them anyway and I don’t know what happened to the poor little things, but they didn’t sell.”
In what is an ultimate dream for many Trekkies, Bjo Trimble appeared on screen as an extra during Star Trek: The Motion Picture. According to Bjo, both Trimbles were asked to appear, but John had to work on the day of filming.
3. Bjo Was Hugely Influential in Early Fanzines
In the video above, Bjo Trimble talks about bullying, while in attendance at an anti-bully rally hosted by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actress Chase Masterson.
In addition to her commitment to anti-bullying campaigns, as demonstrated by the video above, Bjo Trimble also left her mark on the Trek fandom in more subtle ways. In a post-Wikipedia era, it can be hard for today’s fans to remember how difficult it was to communicate with fellow fans, or learn more about the show when it wasn’t airing every week. In a time before social media, fans like Bjo kept in touch and shared knowledge and ideas through fanzines.
In Part 1 of StarTrek.com’s interview with “The Woman Who Saved Star Trek,” Bjo talks candidly about her role illustrating for Trek fanzines, as well as co-creating the Star Trek Concordance. In a pre-Wikipedia era, fan publications and projects like the Concordance were crucial for preserving knowledge and sharing it with fellow fans.
Bjo Trimble recalled:
“The Concordance started with a young lady taking copious notes on episodes as they were viewed. I started helping her. When she had shoeboxes full of 3×5 index cards, I suggested that we put together a sort of encyclopedia fanzine. But it began to take too long and she lost interest. When we finally produced the Concordance fanzine, I was foolish in giving the young lady all the writing credit, which was not entirely true. For subsequent publications of the book, she had no input at all. John and I produced the first fan-published edition on an offset press in our basement.”
In a 1999 interview with TrekPlace.com, Bjo Trimble was asked why the updated Concordance was copyrighted by both Paramount, and by Bjo herself. Trimble told the outlet, “In those days, nobody at Paramount thought Star Trek would last 30 years! So they didn’t care…I suspect that our collective sales made [Paramount] realize they should be merchandising things better.”
4. John Was ‘As Active’ as Bjo in Saving the Show
While Bjo is known among fans as “the woman who saved Star Trek,” Trimble herself has gone on record that John was equally as important to the campaign, if not more so. As she told StarTrek.com in an interview, “The whole Save Star Trek campaign was John’s fault. We had visited the Trek set, about when word sifted down that the show would be canceled at the end of this, the second season…On our way home, John said, ‘There ought to be something we could do about this!’”
According to Bjo Trimble, the news media’s marketing of their campaign was to blame for her getting most of the credit over the years. In her opinion, this was a sign of the times, giving the prevailing cultural headwinds of the Women’s Lib movement of the 1960s. In other words, it was simply more buzzworthy to talk about a woman trying to save a show than a man, at that particular moment in American cultural history.
“Reporters focused on me instead of John,” she said. “To my sorrow, John has seldom gotten even the fan credit he so well deserves for his part in making the Star Trek we know now a reality for all of fandom.”
In a profile for StarTrek.com, it was confirmed that John was deeply involved in the campaign to save the series, just as his wife was.
In the words of StarTrek.com’s staff writer, John was “as active a participant in the ‘Save Star Trek’ campaign as Bjo Trimble. The media, back in the day and even now, preferred the story of the little woman who spoke up. It sounded better, sure, but it did John an injustice.”
According to their joint profile on SD Comic Fest’s website, both Trimbles were involved in the letter-writing campaign to save Star Trek before its third season, as well as writing letters to convince NASA to name their space shuttle Enterprise, after the famous starship from Trek.
5. Both of the Trimbles Are Still Alive
At the time of publication, both Bjo and her husband John are alive. The couple is active on Facebook, where they share personal health updates and fandom updates. As the post above indicates, both Bjo and John have plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the couple has shared that John recently had a cancerous growth removed from his head.
Other Trek luminaries, such as Patrick Stewart and George Takei, have begun the COVID vaccination process. Actress Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Janeway on Voyager, shared that she got a vaccination on January 25, via Twitter.
There has been some speculation that a need to get cast and crew vaccinated has been a contributing factor in the production delays for Star Trek: Picard‘s second season. According to the CDC, both vaccines currently approved for use in the United States require two shots, spaced some time apart. The CDC notes Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination doses should be given at least 21 days apart, with a slightly longer time frame for the Moderna vaccine. It is not recommended for the second doses of either vaccine to be given earlier than intended by the manufacturer.