“Space: the final frontier,” those are the riveting first words that opened every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and have excited fans for whatever other-worldly adventure the crew of the USS Enterprise was bound to embark on. Boldly go where no man has gone before and uncover these little-known tidbits about what went on behind the scenes!
You’ll never guess who was key in even getting Star Trek on television!
Captain Kirk Was Not The Enterprise’s Original Captain
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When one thinks of Star Trek, they’d instantly think of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. But believe it or not, they’re not the original crew of the Enterprise. The original unaired pilot, titled “The Cage,” was similar in many ways to the series it would become, but the biggest difference was the cast.
Starship USS Enterprise was led by Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter and his second-in-command was actually a woman called Number One, played by Majel Barrett (who later became Roddenberry’s wife in real life). Instead of McCoy, “The Cage” featured Dr. Phillip Boyce, played by John Hoyt.
The Original Pilot Was Too Intellectual For Viewers
So what happened to the original crew of starship Enterprise? When NBC was presented with this pilot, they thought it was “too cerebral” with “not enough action.” Although NBC rejected “The Cage” they were still confident about the series and boldly ordered a second pilot.
Very few details from “The Cage” made it to the new pilot and the only thing that did, in fact, was Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, who originally had a more enthusiastic demeanor as opposed to his reserved nature in the series. The resulting new pilot gave us the crew we know and love today, who are officially introduced in “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
A Woman Was Originally Supposed To Be Second-In-Command
You read that right, a woman was originally second-in-command of the Enterprise. Though Majel Barrett didn’t make it as a regular on Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), she’s still considered the “First Lady of Star Trek.” She was romantically involved with creator Gene Roddenberry during the show’s development, so NBC wasn’t too pleased, thinking Barrett had a leading role because she was dating Roddenberry.
It didn’t help that test audiences didn’t like her character at all, thinking she was “too pushy” and trying too hard to fit in with the men (but then again, people in the ’60s probably weren’t used to seeing women in positions of power).
Ironically, the most powerful woman in Hollywood at the time is what helped keep Star Trek on the air.
Barrett Was Heavily Involved In Star Trek For Many Years
Majel Barrett and Gene Roddenberry married in 1969 after Star Trek got on its feet. As a result, Barrett was still involved with TOS and Star Trek’s subsequent series.
Barrett returned to TOS in a recurring role as Nurse Christine Chapel, who had an unrequited love for Spock. As well as voicing numerous characters in The Animated Series, she returned in The Next Generation as Lwaxana Troi and provided the voice for the Enterprise computer, which she also did for Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.
Gene Roddenberry Defended His Female Writer
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D.C. Fontana, who wrote for the series, received fan mail addressed to “Mr. Fontana.” At the time it was almost unthinkable that D.C. Fontana was a woman, but in fact, she was.
Fontana started out as a secretary, but after Roddenberry asked for her assistance in revising some episodes, she soon became a regular contributor. After one of the network executives felt the need to call her and lecture her about one of her scripts, she told Roddenberry that it was unfair since none of the other writers got that treatment. Roddenberry called the executive back and came to Fontana’s defense saying, “You don’t mess with my writers.”
Why Star Trek Fans Should Really Love Lucy
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Star Trek: TOS was made under Desilu Productions, which was the leading independent TV production company at the time. Desilu co-owner Lucille Ball okayed Star Trek when it was first presented to her, though she thought it was a show about USO performers who visited troops in foreign countries.
Once she was told what Star Trek was actually about, she still went ahead with producing the pilot and overruled the Board of Directors to do it. There was even a rumor that Lucy herself swept up the set during filming on one occasion. One executive said that if not for Lucy, we wouldn’t have Star Trek today.
Ball was certainly an unexpected proponent of the show, but you won’t believe who was also a fan of the show and the profound reason why…
No One Ever Really Said “Beam Me Up, Scotty”
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Even if you aren’t the most avid Star Trek fan, you’re probably aware of the phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” — a reference to chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, played by James Doohan.
This is what Captain Kirk usually says when he needs to get back on the starship Enterprise. However, real fans who’ve paid close attention to the show know that no one has ever actually said “Beam me up, Scotty” in any of the episodes or films. Variations of the phrase have been said, but not in that particular order. Somehow, though, it has become a pop culture reference that everyone uses anyway.
“Live Long And Prosper” Is Actually A Jewish Blessing
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Star Trek is synonymous with the Vulcan salute, which wouldn’t have been possible if not for Leonard Nimoy’s Jewish heritage. Nimoy came up with the gesture when filming the opener for season two and had actually borrowed it from something he witnessed as a kid.
Attending a service at an Orthodox Jewish synagogue with his family, Nimoy peeked when he wasn’t supposed to during a blessing. He noticed the priests had their hands in the now-famous gesture towards the congregation. The gesture represents the Hebrew letter Shin, which also represents God.
Leonard Nimoy Was An Equal Pay Advocate Back In The Day
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At one point, Gene Roddenberry reportedly began referring to Leonard Nimoy as “the conscience of Star Trek” and there a couple amazing reasons why. Back in the ’60s, there was no conversation about equal pay like there is today, but that didn’t stop Leonard Nimoy from stepping up for his female co-star, Nichelle Nichols.
Actor Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, recalled to reporters: “When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George [Takei] and I were getting the same pay but Nichelle was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard and he took it to the front office and they corrected that.”
Despite getting her equal pay, there was still a point that Nichols wanted to leave the show, but you won’t believe who convinced her to stay…
Nimoy Wouldn’t Do It Without His Crew
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When Star Trek: The Animated Series was in production in the ’70s, Leonard Nimoy again came to his co-stars’ defense. Much of the original cast was signed on to voice the characters, except Nichelle Nichols and George Takei.
When Nimoy found out about this, he wasn’t having it. Takei told Entertainment Weekly that Nimoy told producers, “Star Trek is about diversity, and the two people who represent diversity most are Nichelle and George, and if they can’t be a part of this project, then you don’t want me.” Nimoy was willing to walk away from the show for the sake of principle.
A Shocking Scene For Audiences Of The ’60s
Star Trek made American television history in 1968 when it aired the first interracial kiss. In the season three episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” aliens used psychokinetic powers to make Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura kiss against their will.
Mind you, this was the ’60s and worried about how viewers in the South would take it, producers wanted to film different versions of the scene where they don’t actually lock lips. But apparently, William Shatner kept purposely flubbing the extra scenes so much, that they were forced to use the kissing scene as written. Also, the kiss was originally supposed to be between Uhura and Spock, but Shatner insisted that he star in the historic moment.
MLK Jr. Convinced Nichelle Nichols To Stay On The Show
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Star Trek: TOS aired in 1966 amid the Civil Rights Movement in the South, while Nichelle Nichols had the first major black female television role as Lieutenant Uhura. Nichols never faced discrimination on set, but she dealt with it in other parts of the studio, where she was sometimes even forced to use a different entrance.
At a fundraiser, Nichols ran into Dr. Martin Luther King, who happened to be a big fan. She told King that she wanted to leave the show, but he convinced her to stay, saying, “Don’t you realize how important your presence, your character is? This is not a black role or a female role. You have the first nonstereotypical role on television. You have broken ground.”
Soon you’ll find out why William Shatner upset many Star Trek fans…
There Is No Chest Hair In The Future, According To Star Trek
Apparently, Gene Roddenberry had some pretty interesting predictions for the ideal future. One was that men would have “little to no body hair,” according to the book These Are the Voyages.
William Shatner had to endure an extensive chest-shaving process by the studio barber whenever he was to appear topless in a scene. Shatner wasn’t too pleased with having to film shirtless since he was allegedly embarrassed over his physique at the time. As for Spock, who also appears shirtless but with a chest full of hair in some instances, he wouldn’t count since he is technically alien.
There Are Secret Unsingable Lyrics To The Star Trek Theme Song
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Even the most die-hard Star Trek fans would be surprised to learn that there are actually lyrics to the show’s theme song, and no, we’re not talking about Shatner’s narration at the beginning.
The theme song was composed by Alexander Courage, who would receive royalties every time the theme was played on television and even more if the show went into syndication. Apparently, Courage unwittingly had a deal with Roddenberry to split the royalties 50/50 if Roddenberry decided to compose lyrics for it. Knowing they would never be used, Roddenberry wrote some anyway to cash in on it saying, “Hey, I have to get some money somewhere.”
The Only Man To Be A Vulcan, Romulan, And Klingon
Actor Mark Lenard is best known for his role as Vulcan ambassador Sarek, Spock’s father. But before he gained notoriety as Sarek, Lenard first appeared on TOS as the first ever Romulan to appear in the series in the first season.
For Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Lenard portrayed a Klingon captain and as a result, Lenard officially became the only actor in the history of Star Trek to play three different alien species. Regardless, his most prominent role is Sarek, which he reprised in The Animated Series and three of the Star Trek films.
Wait until you find out why Trekkies hated William Shatner at one
Star Trek Is Not In Chronological Order
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A casual Star Trek watcher may not have noticed this, but the episodes are not actually in chronological order. Gene Roddenberry came up with an explanation for fans, saying that the time is adjusted relatively depending on the Enterprise’s speed and space warp capability.
“It has little relationship to Earth’s time as we know it,” Roddenberry said, “Therefore stardate would be one thing at one point int he galaxy and something else again at another point in the galaxy. I’m not quite sure what I meant by that explanation, but a lot of people have indicated it makes sense. If so, I’ve been lucky again.”
Did Star Trek Predict Today’s Technology?
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Have you noticed that much of the technology on TOS has actually become real? The most amazing examples of this are the handheld tricorders that were used by Dr. McCoy and Spock whenever they were exploring new planets. NASA has actually developed a near-similar device, called the LOCAD-PTS, which is a handheld biological lab they use to study microbes at the International Space Station.
Other technology from the show is now used in our everyday lives. For example, the telepresence screens are pretty much video conferencing, while the communicators and earpieces are just like modern-day cell phones and Bluetooth devices.
William Shatner Upset Many Trekkies
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William Shatner once came under fire for criticizing the fandom of “Trekkies” that spawned from the series. In 1986, Shatner was a host on Saturday Night Live, wherein one sketch, Shatner played himself attending a Star Trek convention. In the episode, he chastises the crowd and tells them to “Get a life!”
Although it was a joke, many real-life fans were not too pleased. At the time, Shatner apparently couldn’t grasp the idea of a fandom and didn’t understand why grown-ups had put that much dedication into the show. Since then, Shatner examined the Trekkie culture in his 1999 book, Get A Life!
William Shatner And Leonard Nimoy Were Best Buds In Real Life
Captain Kirk and Spock appeared to have a strong connection on Star Trek, but their bond transcended the screen and continued in real life. William Shatner cites Leonard Nimoy as one of the only true close friends he’s ever had in his life.
He told The Aquarian that the only deep friendship he has had was with Nimoy: “I envied it for the longest time, achieved it… It’s a very interesting aspect of life, developing a friendship. Not the ‘Let’s go get a beer’ friendship, but deep, deep down, ‘Here’s my problem, I need your help.'”
Some Actors Developed A Debilitating Condition On Set
Shatner and Nimoy both developed tinnitus after an explosion on set. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in your ears that can get so intense, it will drive people mad.
Shatner told The Aquarian that he’s even talked someone out of suicide: “A famous musician got a hold of me cold. I didn’t know him. He knew I got it because I was the official spokesman for tinnitus at one period, and I talked him down and encouraged him to do a habituation, you know, the white should, because when I was asked when I first got it how it affected my life from 1 to 10, it was 9 1/2.”