James Doohan, Star Trek's "Scotty", got his Hollywood star today. He's 84, has Parkinson's, diabetes, lung fibrosis, and recently Alzheimer's. His old costars said a few words, but he just smiled and waved at the crowd. It'll likely be his last public appearance.
I'm oddly emotional about it. I mean, I'm not really a Trekkie, and I haven't even watched that many episodes of the original series. I didn't feel much when DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) died, and Doohan's not even dead yet.
I guess part of it is his illnesses, and part of it is because he seems like a great guy: turns out he served Canada in Normandy on D-Day, which cost him a finger, and then he went back for dangerous spotter plane duty. They used camera angles to hide his missing finger in the show. (Although, how does one hide a missing finger? :P)
Reading reading the Slashdot comments, I was kind of surprised by how many very emotional posts there were. Usually there's just some dumb geeky jokes, but here there were many people who seem generally touched by meeting him in person. Apparently, he's kept in touch with a couple of depressive fans for years until they got their lives together, etc.
But in the end, I think it's that Scotty was one of the first positive geek role models. He's the engineer that everyone depended on, and everyone could depend on. He gave an emotional sense of nobility to fighting for the cause... in the engine room. I love to work on projects behind the scenes, so that mixture of joy and responsibility is something I can aspire to.
Scotty would always say, "I can't hold her together much longer, Captain!" And yet, somehow, he always did.