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Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

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Star Trek’s Wil Wheaton Spent His Teen Years in CV

Mike Lawler is the former  president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at
lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

Actor Wil Wheaton is probably best known for his role as boy-genius Ensign Wesley Crusher on the iconic series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He was a regular on the popular series from 1987 through 1990, the very years he spent as a teenager living with his family in La Crescenta. Now in his 40s, he continues as an actor, and has become well known as a writer and blogger, and he makes numerous references to his years in CV in his works. Of late, he has had several guest spots on the top comedy series “The Big Bang Theory” playing himself, Wil Wheaton, as the former star of “Star Trek.” With this role he has joined the ranks of other “Star Trek” alumni such as William Shatner and George Takei who have spawned new careers by simply playing themselves.

In 1978, when Wil was 6, the Wheaton family moved to Sunland, just in time for one of our semi-regular mudslides, which inundated the Wheaton’s new home. He has memories of his dad and neighbors shoveling mud from their home. Wil remembers the years in Sunland with great fondness. In his writings he recounts time spent playing video games at Hober’s Pharmacy and Shakey’s Pizza, and long summer days playing with his brother in the family’s yard. During this time he began to work in television, his first role opposite Bill Cosby in one of the classic Jello Pudding commercials. A few other small roles led to a starring role as Gordie in the 1986 hit movie “Stand By Me.” At 13, Wil was now a star.

This coincided with the Wheaton family’s move to La Crescenta in 1987, and Wil’s first brush with one of the downsides of stardom. At 14 Wil started as a new student at CV High School. He was, despite his fame, painfully shy and sensitive, and he remembers being terrified that first day of school, which just increased his shyness. That shyness was interpreted as aloofness, and the word went around that he was just another stuck-up actor. He never was able to correct that tragic first impression. He remembers walking across the quad feeling so alone and small, like a lost child. The kids were so cruel to him. It was like a nightmare. He only lasted one semester there, which dovetailed nicely with landing a role on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and finishing high school with tutoring.

Other memories of CV are more pleasant. Snippets of the same CV memories we all share come out in Wil’s writings: time spent at Verdugo Bowling Alley, chicken and beef bowls from Yaki’s, golf games with friends at the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, and the big fireworks show put on by the CV Chamber of Commerce. Like many teenagers, he spent hours in the family’s pool, and even more hours with his brother and other friends playing video games: Legend of Zelda, Blades of Steel and Metroid. Entering adulthood, Wheaton studied acting intensely, continuing to land roles. He met and married the love of his life, Anne, and her two small boys from a previous marriage. They bought their first house here in La Crescenta. When the school district redrew its boundaries, they weren’t happy with the results, and moved to Pasadena where they’ve been ever since.

Now in his 40s, Wil Wheaton is unmatched in his creative versatility. Besides his acting work and renewed fame as a semi-regular on “Big Bang Theory,” Wil does voice acting for cartoons and video games, stand-up comedy, and hosts TV shows and podcasts. He is a prolific writer, having penned several books. He’s a giant in social media, where he blogs incessantly and has millions of followers on Twitter. Now that “Star Trek,” comic books and video games are “cool,” Wil Wheaton is royalty in the realm of nerd-dom. He is a positive force in an emerging world where intelligence, creativity and sensitivity are valued. For insight into Wil Wheaton’s life and work, and his roots in the Crescenta Valley, check out his blog at wilwheaton.net.

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