Star Trek: Does Gene Roddenberry’s Ghost Haunt the Paramount Lot?
Brannon Braga exorcizes the Paramount lot of Gene Roddenberry ghost stories.
Star Trek, the science fiction series that rose from the dead after being photon-torpedoed by studio suits after only three seasons, hit its 50th anniversary this year. A lot of myths and legends have beamed up in that half-century, and one of them was that Gene Roddenberry fought tooth, nail, and whatever you call that thing Captain Kirk did with his clenched fists, to keep the series alive. He didn’t. He actually quit the series before its third season. But Roddenberry commanded Star Trek’s return. The show died, but he never gave up the ghost.
There have been whispered rumors that the ghost of Roddenberry, who died in 1991, haunts the old Star Trek sets, leaving a whiff of aftershave in his wake. Brannon Braga got his start on Star Trek: The Next Generation and wrote more scripts, over a hundred, for the franchise than any other writer on the series. While Braga admitted he wasn’t a Trekkie growing up, he has become a renowned authority through his years of close association at the comm. But he never ran into the ghost of Gene Roddenberry in the bathrooms at the Roddenberry building on the Paramount lot.
“Well, the Roddenberry building is not where the original Star Treks were shot,” Braga says. “I didn’t encounter the ghost Gene, but I will say the building did have a strong aroma of aftershave, but that was from a longtime producer, who’s now passed away, named AC Lyles. He’d been producing movies there since the early days of cinema. He wore a lot of cologne, so maybe that’s what it was.”
Stories of AC Lyles still haunt the tour guides.
Rod Kindlund was a page at Paramount from 1996 to 2000. He gave public and VIP tours of the lot “as well as audience coordination for TV shows, special events, and temp work in various departments.”
Kindlund says he has “tons of ghost stories about Paramount and RKO, which was formerly next door. The studio is on land that used to be part or the cemetery and that was the basis of the idea for the movie Poltergeist.”
The former page “initially learned things in training, but preferred to use my own information from personal anecdotes after I had been there for a year or two. I also relied heavily on stories that I was told by A.C. Lyles, a veteran producer who had been at Paramount many years and became their ambassador.”
AC Lyles began working for Paramount studios while he was still in high school. Starting as an office boy in the publicity department, he became an assistant to the producer of the 1954 movie The Mountain. The first movie Lyle produced was the This Gun For Hire remake Short Cut to Hell, which was directed by Hollywood icon James Cagney in 1957. Lyle also produced episodes of Rawhide, the film Law of the Lawless, and a series of low budget westerns for Paramount before branching out to other genres like the Korean War movie, The Young and the Brave, and the 1968 detective drama Rogues Gallery. Lyles also produced the mutant rabbit movie Night of the Lepus for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His last gig was as as consulting producer on HBO’s Deadwood.
Kindlund worked the lot during a busy Star Trek production period.
“There were actually two Star Trek shows being produced on the lot at that time: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager,” Kindlund says. “There were many times that actors were spotted in their Starfleet uniform and waved to the crowd or might sometimes even come up and talk to them briefly. The crowds loved that.”
The former page who now acts at Hobbs Grove Halloween Haunt, California’s coolest haunt, saw the stories of Roddenberry move into the light during his time at the studio.
“As far as Gene Roddenberry goes, the only ghost story I had ever heard was that his ghost occupied the office building on the lot that was named after him. The Roddenberry building is not one of the historic ones. It’s a newer building. I had also heard a rumor that his coffin had been shot into outer space when he passed away. That’s ridiculous of course, but I thought it was funny. Probably stemmed from when that happened to Mr. Spock in The Wrath of Khan. He was actually cremated and buried at, I believe Hollywood Forever.”
One witness worked at Paramount as a page in 1997. She could precisely recall the date because she remembers “working the Titanic screenings.” She also recollected that the Roddenberry ghost story was part of her tour-guide patter. While she wishes to remain anonymous because she now works in another branch of entertainment, she says she still remembers telling visitors that Roddenberry’s “ghost appeared in the bathroom, and you knew it was him by the smell of his aftershave.”
She said she was taught this magic by Tim Perez, formerly part of studio management at Paramount Pictures but now retired. Perez has not responded to a media request by press time. So we reached out to the guest relations office at Paramount.
The executive didn’t give a direct quote, but the office confirmed that the Roddenberry ghost story is no longer part of the tour because it is not reputable, and the events cannot be verified.
The former page is not surprised that Paramount investigated the rumors and took it out of the tour guide patter based on incredibility.
“Paramount is very thorough,” she says. “But at the time, taking people through the Star Trek sets was a huge draw.”
The guest relations office doesn’t deny all the ghost stories and directed Den of Geek to the more reputable paranormal stories that are featured in their Halloween edition of the Paramount After Dark: Tales from the Other Side tour.
“Not all the stories born on our studio lot made it to the silver screen,” reads the official website. “Some stories, the darker stories, remained, and they continue to haunt the lot by moonlight. Maybe it’s the cemetery next door. Maybe it’s the passion to succeed in Hollywood that keeps the spirited personalities relevant today, even after death. Maybe it’s just your imagination.”
Read the full Den of Geek NYCC Special Edition Magazine right here!