Hard to believe the little sci-fi series that almost didn’t make it, turns 50 on September 8. After a pilot with Jeffery Hunter was rejected in 1965, Gene Roddenberry’s space adventure, Star Trek, got the green light from Desilu Studios. Yes, that’s the “I Love Lucy” studio. A network executive claimed Lucille Ball never actually read the script, she thought it was about movie stars on a trek to entertain U.S. Troops, a mistake that still resonates a half-century later. Thank you, Lucy.
A recent WSJ Arena article by John Jurgenson, Still Boldly Going, recapped a short history of the first Star Trek, or “lowercase fantasia” as rated by Variety at the time. Jurgenson cites William Shatner’s memory of the era, “We were always about to be cancelled, always a sword of Damocles hanging over us.” One actor quoted “No one had any idea that 50 years later, the story would have a heartbeat.”