The Vulcan and the Redhead – How Lucy Became the Power Behind Starfleet
Pop quiz. What do Lucille Ball, an ex-cop and a certain pointy-eared, green skinned alien have in common? Believe it or not, the cop and the Vulcan both worked for the redheaded comic icon during the early days of “Star Trek.”
Writer/producer Gene Roddenberry’s military drama, “The Lieutenant,” caught the attention of senior executives at Desilu Productions, the production company owned by
Lucille Ball. By the early 1960′s, Desilu was one of the most successful production companies in television and looking to expand and Gene Roddenberry was one of the writer/producers recruited by the studio.
Because Desilu had a first look deal with CBS, they originally took “Star Trek” there, only to be told that the network had already bought a science fiction show from producer Irwin Allen and just wanted ideas for what would become “Lost in Space.” Shortly thereafter, they successfully sold NBC on shooting a pilot.
Gene Roddenberry was an idealist in many ways and wanted “Star Trek” to reflect his own ideas of equality and social justice, making it the first network series to feature people of multiple nationalities, races and even species working together in that first pilot, “The Cage.” But apparently he crossed the line when he cast a woman, actress Majel Barrett, as the ship’s second in command.
NBC liked the concept, but hated the pilot, ordering a second one and in the process demoting Ms. Barrett from Executive Officer to nurse. But she ultimately married the boss and became the only actor to have been in every “Star Trek” series (She’s the voice of the ship’s computer on all the Trek series and had a recurring role in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”). As for that second pilot, it sold the series to NBC and began what would become one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.
About Us: On Tuesday, November 14, Majel Barrett Roddenberry joins son Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry and writer/director Nicholas Meyer for a special 40th Anniversary “Star Trek” Celebration at the world famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatres Complex in Hollywood, California following a screening of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” as part of the “Story Makers Studio” series at the Chinese. Tickets are available at the Chinese Theatre’s box office and online at www.stiylagency.com/startrek