Ten years ago I went to a convention for one guest only. I barely had a job and any money but I had enough for one guest. I drove to London to meet René Auberjonois. Clutching my DS9 print and Pirates of Dark Water poster I met him for the first time after interrupting his quiet time reading a book. He couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming as he sung Les Poissons from The Little Mermaid to me over the table and signed my items. I got a photo (over the table, photo ops weren’t too much a thing then) and went happily on my way. Since then I learnt a bit more about his illustrious career before 2012 would be the start of something new.
In 2012 I worked my first show as a guest assistant. René was my guest. I had no clue what to expect from him as this was totally new to me although I knew how the job itself should be done. He had so much kindness about him. Letting me sit between himself and Nana even though he should have been the other side of me with his good ear. He talked about his time working on various things, laughing at me when my eyes widened when he said he used to live round the block from Burgess Meredith. “Oh”, he said. “Batman.” He seemed to appreciate my questions and told me to watch Warehouse 13 as I was a geek, as he termed it, and I’d like it. He spoke so well of it and said he was so excited to go back and work on it with great people that I did. And that was that. A week later I saw him perform Judith Auberjoinois’ abridged ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Ice-Cream-Suited Right Stuff Man-in- Full On-the-Beat!’, the reading of a new play culled from the writings of Tom Wolfe and I remember being blown away by his performance in the intimate room the Poetry Society had hired. A couple of months later I saw him again at the first Destination Star Trek event in London.
I had a lot of time for René and he humoured me amazingly as a fan. Since then I’ve seen him at every English event since 2012 (and the odd one overseas) and as he said, we became friends. To emailing, to him surprising me by passing compliments on to Janina Gavankar, to him doing a Q&A podcast with me and me working his table with his minions on the last day of Vegas 2016. He was amazed and interested when I went to a gallery in Zurich and found they had his Grandfathers paintings in their archive. He’s the reason Nana and I are friends even though we taunted her over her dislike of The Beatles music, we talked about Paris and the good restaurants in Montparnasse. I made a friend in Frankie because of him. And I’m so glad Toni got to meet him after so many chats and general banter on social media.
I admired his witty and sharp sarcastic nature, his artwork, sculptures and photography, his love for Judith and his family and how he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions – especially the political ones. The internet will just tell you the roles he played on TV and film but they don’t show his nature. Just go and look at his Instagram to see who he was. But even then it doesn’t do him any justice.
René, I will always have that one thing left on the self unsigned, waiting for you, even if you think I don’t need any more. And I will always love that NYC Skyline photo you took that I never got a print of. I have learned a lot from you and admire and respect you and although I only knew a tiny part of you, I am grateful. You will be greatly missed.
– Your UK Minion and friend.