In 1991, Patrick Stewart, in his own inimitable way, sang a tribute to Gene Roddenberry in character as Captain Picard.
When Star Trek: The Next Generation was entering its fifth season, Gene Roddenberry’s health was declining. He’d had a stroke in 1989 that required him to use a wheelchair, and overall, he wasn’t doing well. As a tribute to the creator of Star Trek (and a great way to say thank you), Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard, performed a musical number that used the alphabet to creatively describe Roddenberry. And though we don’t know his reaction to the clip, we do know that Stewart obviously had fun with it.
According to BoingBoing, the clip wasn’t actually supposed to be released for public viewing as it was a private surprise. Of course, that didn’t stop it from showing up on the Season 5 DVD extras when they released in 2002.
Patrick Stewart wasn’t Gene Roddenberry’s choice to be the next captain of the Enterprise.
Roddenberry had been reluctant to cast Stewart as Captain Picard. And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter,Stewart said Roddenberry would come down to the set two or three times a week and sit in a director’s chair and watch what they were doing. Occasionally, Stewart would catch Roddenberry looking at him. Stewart said he knew Roddenberry was thinking what is this guy doing in my show.
"“I am told that somewhere in the archives, in the cellars of Paramount, there is a memo which came from Gene to everybody on the production saying that he did not want to hear my name mentioned again.”"
Fortunately, Roddenberry’s displeasure didn’t last long nor did it keep Stewart from paying tribute to the man responsible for his career as new captain of the Enterprise.