Space may be the final frontier, but Star Trek is a well-explored universe by now. Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, transporters, phasers, tricorders and Klingons are part of our common language. But there's still tons of insane stuff you've never heard about Trek.
We dug deep into the secret history of Star Trek, the half-forgotten details and weird happenstance that went into creating a cultural phenomenon that has lasted almost five decades. Here, in no particular order, are 10 things you probably didn't know about Star Trek: The Original Series.
1. The original pilot, "The Cage," was partly killed for being too sexy
Why did NBC choose not to air the first Star Trek pilot, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike? People usually blame it on a too-cerebral script, with too much deep philosophizing and introspection. But in fact, a major reason had to do with NBC's Broadcast Standards Office, being concerned about the "eroticism" of the pilot, with the green dancing girls and the kissing and all that raw sexuality. (To be sure, the network was also worried that it was "too smart," a female first officer was going too far, and Mr. Spock looked too demonic.) Later, after Trek was on the air, the producers used the network's concerns about sexuality to their advantage — they would deliberately put sexy stuff into episodes for the network to freak out about, so the censors wouldn't notice other things. For example, in the episode "A Private Little War," the producers deliberately put in a scene of Kirk having an open-mouth kiss with a half-naked woman, so the network could throw a fit about that — and not notice the blatant Vietnam allegory.
Source: Inside Star Trek by Herb Solow and Robert Justman, pp. 60 and 356.
2. Mr. Spock's skin color was originally different.
Originally, Gene Roddenberry and friends wanted Spock's skin to be a dark red, or at least to have a red tint. This was abandoned when they realized that on black-and-white TVs, Spock's skin would look black, possibly as if Spock was in blackface. Plus Leonard Nimoy would have needed hours more in makeup every morning. (See early Spock concept art, with a very different uniform design and a skullcap, at left, via Star Trek History.) Eventually, it was decided to make Spock's skin yellow-tinged instead — but when the network converted the film for the first episode for electronic broadcasting, the network's color specialist, Alex Quroga, "corrected" Spock's face to make it look pinker. (Watch "The Man Trap," and you can still see a more pink-faced Spock.)
Sources: Star Trek 365, NBC: America's Network by Michelle Hilmes, ed., TrekBBS, Star Trek History — that last site is full of insane details.
3. Spock originally didn't eat or drink
Not only would he have been red-faced, but Spock also wasn't originally planned to eat or drink anything — instead, he had a plate in the middle of his stomach, and he fed off any energy that struck this special plate.
Source: Star Trek: A History in Pictures by J.M. Dillard
4. Paramount was so desperate to get rid of Star Trek, they tried to cash out to Gene Roddenberry
Star Trek was originally produced by Desilu, the studio owned by I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball — who personally approved the show and played a big role in keeping it alive after the first pilot was rejected. But in July 1967, Desilu was bought by Gulf+Western, which had just purchased Paramount Pictures in 1966. That put Paramount in charge of Star Trek. According to producer Herb Solow, "Paramount didn't want Star Trek because it was losing too much money each week and didn't have enough episodes to syndicate." So Paramount offered to sell all of its equity in Trek to Gene Roddenberry for $150,000 — or about a million dollars today. But Roddenberry couldn't afford to pay that much money, so the rights stayed with Paramount. (In his original deal, Roddenberry had agreed his own Norway production studio would share net profits with Desilu, NBC, and William Shatner himself.)
Source: Interview with Solow in NBC: America's Network by Michelle Hilmes
5. The U.S.S. Enterprise had a six-lane bowling alley on board.
According to Star Trek Blueprints, an authentic set of blueprints for the Constitution-class Starships released in booklet form in 1975, there's a pretty giant bowling alley on Deck 21, right next to the "Refreshments Area" and the "Food and Beverages Preparation Facility."
Source: Memory Alpha, Lucky Puppy Odd Facts (image).
6. Gene Roddenberry told Isaac Asimov to shush
When Gene Roddenberry brought the second Star Trek pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," to the World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland, he shushed a loud man at the start — who turned out to be Asimov. (Roddenberry was nervous about how the show would be received, but it wound up getting a standing ovation.) Later, in 1967, Asimov wrote an essay for TV Guide called "Mr. Spock is Dreamy!", all about the baffling phenomenon of women and girls finding the cerebral Spock sexually appealing — including Asimov's own twelve-year-old daughter. Wrote Asimov, Through the agency of Mr. Spock, Star Trek has been capitalizing upon a fact not generally known among the male half of the population. Women think being smart is sexy!" (Read the whole essay here.)
Source: Star Trek: A History in Pictures, Facebook
7. The Federation uniforms were made by a sweatshop
The Federation may be a Socialist utopia of sorts, but Starfleet's uniforms didn't exactly come out of a Replicator. According to producers Robert Justman and Herb Solow, the show's budget was so tiny, they couldn't afford to have costumes made by union costume-makers — instead, they had them made overnight by a "sweatshop," and sneaked the finished costumes in through a back window at the studio.
Source: Inside Star Trek by Solow and Justman.
8. William Shatner has never watched Star Trek.
The James Kirk actor told his daughter, Lizbeth Shatner, that he'd never seen the television show or any of the movies, in a video blog they did together. Said Shatner:
I never watched Star Trek. I have not even seen any of the Star Trek movies. I don't watch myself.
He added that he hated watching himself, because he feels as though "I suck." When he was directing himself and had to watch the footage afterwards — for example in Star Trek V — he found it really uncomfortable.
Source: The Telegraph.
9. That famous interracial kiss was originally between Spock and Uhura
Star Trek is well-known for featuring the first interracial kiss on television, between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura. But in the episode's actual script, that kiss would have transpired between Uhura and Spock, instead. According to Uhura actor Nichelle Nichols:
My understanding is Bill Shatner took one look at the scene and said, ‘No you will not! If anyone's going to be part of the first interracial kiss in television history, it's going to be me!' So they rewrote it.
Perhaps that original scene was one inspiration for the Spock/Uhura romance in the most recent Trek film?
Source: Star Trek: A History in Pictures page 44.
10. Star Trek visited Mayberry... twice.
The show was so broke, it reused tons of outdoor sets from The Andy Griffith Show, particularly in the episodes "Miri" and "City on the Edge of Forever." You can actually see Floyd's Barber Shop, where Andy regularly got his hair cut, in the background of scenes where Captain Kirk is walking along with Edith Keeler. You can also see the Mayberry Courthouse, Walkers Drugstore and several other major landmarks quite prominently in both episodes. There are tons and tons of pics, including set pics, at the link below.
Screencaps mostly taken from Trekcore.
This post was originally published on August 4, 2011. Republished today in honor of yesterday's 46th anniversary of the original series.