Gene Roddenberry's Rolodex sells for $1280


Kevin says:

"Thought you'd like to see this...  William Shatner's info from Gene Roddenberry's Rolodex (redacted for his privacy, but genuine).  The guy that bought the Rolodex (at the recent Star Trek auction) is a friend of mine here at work.  He paid a whopping $1280 for the dang thing... more than three times as much as I would have even considered.  It's got lots of cool information in it.  I'll share more when my friend gets brave enough to bring the whole thing to work.  He wants to put it in a clear box for display so nobody does anything foolish like sneezing on it."

Not only was Shatner's info in there, so was Nimoy's, Carl Sagan's secretary, Astronaut Walter (Wally) Schirra, his wife (Majel) mobile phone number, all the numbers to house phones at his house, many relatives (surprisingly a lot are doctors in Georgia... does that make you think or what?!) and much, much more. I'm sure most if not all of the data here is very outdated and many of the people are no longer with us that are included on the cards, but it's cool anyway. I'm hoping to get a chance to shoot a photo of the actual Rolodex sometime, if he feels it is safe enough to bring it to work. What a treasure! My friend is considering checking out some of the numbers to see if they're still current. Who knows...
One of Gene Roddenberry's Rolodex Cards


  1. never had a rolodex .. anyone care to explain what that CLUB info is supposed to be?

    Was that the country club that the Shatner would have his Romulan ale after a long day of toupee wearing?

    1. WSF = William Shatner Fanclub? That’d be my guess.

      I once inherited something like this: a late-80s proto-Blackberry type thing, which a director friend of mine used for years. The battery had died and he thought it was wiped. Turned out it wasn’t. So I had personal phone numbers and contact info for a bunch of celebs from Michael Jackson to Rebecca de Mornay.

      Sensitive stuff. I thought it was kinda neat to have, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of selling it or showing it around. Maybe after 50 years or so, but I know several people whose home numbers haven’t changed in 30+ years, and it wouldn’t be cool to disseminate stuff like that.

      1. Yes, please do not expose these phone numbers or addresses to the Internet. While the temptation is there, I doubt there would be much good of you contacting these celebrities either. How would you feel is someone got your contact information like this and called you up? If they exposed it to the world? You’d probably be as welcome as a telemarketer.

        1. You’d probably be as welcome as a telemarketer.

          Far less welcome than that! The thing about celebrity is what makes this post show up in the first place (and what motivated someone to spend cash money on a dead guy’s Rolodex). Famous people have fans. These fans are very interested in the personal details of a celeb’s life. And not all those fans behave in an appropriate fashion.

          At worst, a telemarketer will keep calling you in the middle of dinner. A stalker/fan can do some serious damage.

        2. Does anyone believe that the phone number on the card is still William Shatner’s after all these years? I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry, but I doubt any of the information on that card is still current.

  2. I can’t help but point out the irony of this story being framed in a “Hey, check out this neat thing” way. Usually a story on Boing Boing of a collection of people’s private information being sold for money would be met with outrage!

    Also, don’t be one of those jerks who lectures me on the correct use of the word ‘irony,’ you all know what I mean.

    1. Actually, you’re using the word “irony” correctly; so your comment about the correct use of the word “irony” is rather ironic. If you think I’m being a jerk for pointing that out, then I would find that somewhat ironic, too.

  3. Usually a story on Boing Boing of a collection of people’s private information being sold for money would be met with outrage!

    Given that Mr. Roddenberry has been dead for 19 years and that tour buses point out actors’ homes to tourists every day, the contents of this Rolodex don’t seem likely to contain much private information.

    1. the contents of this Rolodex don’t seem likely to contain much private information.

      Well, I’d have to disagree. Unlike a lot of things that might pop up at an estate sale, or might be included in a dead person’s papers that might be left to a university or something if the decedent is famous or important enough, the contents of one’s “little black book” aren’t really one’s own to distribute at will. That is, you might leave all your correspondence, all your diaries, all your unpublished novels, all your scrawled grocery lists behind to be boxed up and examined by the scholars of the world you leave behind. Nobody would complain about that; those writings and notes and ephemera are yours to destroy or bequeath as you see fit.

      But the phone numbers and contact info that other people entrust to you is not exactly something that you own. It’s sometimes given in confidence, and especially if the contact info is of someone whose contact info may be somewhat in demand, that info should be treated as sensitive. Not because famous people deserve to have their info locked down tighter than that of us lesser mortals, but because ordinary schmucks like me don’t run into a hell of a lot of demand for our digits from the hoi polloi.

      To revisit the highfalutin electronic contact list I acquired, as a small example, one of the numbers listed for Michael Jackson was annotated as the only one he would personally answer. I imagine MJ wasn’t in the habit of giving that particular one out to anyone he didn’t actually want to talk to; I remember there being three or four other numbers as part of his entry, which no doubt connected one to various members of his representation and entourage.

      I guess my point is that it’s not really up to us to decide when it’s been long enough for the “reasonable expectation of privacy” to expire for this. If Shatner’s home phone number hasn’t changed in a couple decades, and now he starts getting crank-called on it simply because his private info (which Roddenberry took to his grave… except it didn’t occur to him that he’d need to burn his Rolodex in order to keep it private) has now fallen into the hands of Some Random Guy…

      I dunno. Truly a tempest in a teapot, but it goes against my grain.

    2. Going to have to agree with Donald Petersen here; having a tour bus go past your front gate is nothing remotely close to having your bedside phone, the one with the number that’s only given out to the dozen or so people in the world that you can really trust with it*, ring and finding out that the person on the other end is some random bozo who happened to win an auction.**

      I’m sure that many, if not most, celebrities do have layers of security and secretaries, with phone numbers that are regularly replaced when numbskulls like Paris Hilton get drunk and leave them in taxis. But a lot of them still want to keep the same phone number that they’ve had for decades, just like regular people do. (In the excellent book Confederates in the Attic, we find out that author Shelby Foote, even after becoming a demi-celebrity for narrating Ken Burns’ Civil War, not only kept his phone number listed in the Memphis directory, but also answered it himself and didn’t even have an answering machine.) It may seem silly to draw that boundary in an age when Twitter lets you know every time Kanye West has a brain-fart, but you can think of it as a golden-rule kind of thing.

      *Like the legendary ten or so people that have the number for Barack Obama’s BlackBerry.

      **I’m literally a life-long Star Trek fan, and I’ve often coveted some of the things that have come up for auction (like the original captain’s chair), but I’m also kind of irritated that they sell literally anything and everything from the show that they can get their hands on; it’s like the people who sell their house and interpret “furnishings” to mean anything that they can unscrew and haul off, so that you show up at closing and find out that they’ve not only taken the lighting fixtures but also the light switch covers. It wouldn’t shock me a bit to find out that someone’s selling squares of carpet from Roddenberry’s office–“Shatner may have stood on this rug!”

  4. I think this is cool, but what gets me the most about this story is looking at that card and knowing that for this and each of the others, someone had to stick it into a typewriter and type out that information letter by letter.

  5. *BEEPBOOPBEEPBOOPBOOPBEEPBOOP* “Hello, Nichelle Nichols? Is your refrigerator running? …Well you’d better go catch it!”

    *BEEPBOOPBEEPBOOPBOOPBEEPBOOP* “Hello, Walter Koenig? Is your refrigerator running? …Well you’d better go catch it!”

    *BEEPBOOPBEEPBOOPBOOPBEEPBOOP* “Hello, DeForest Kelly? Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. My sincere condolences. I wonder, though, when he passed, was his refrigerator running?”

  6. It’s possible given the color of the blur to guess the numbers. It’s better to remove the data; leaving bits poking out makes it much to easy.

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