The official 50th anniversary of Star Trek is still a ways off, but it unofficially begins today. Why? Production on “The Cage,” the first pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series, kicked off on this day in 1964. Gene Roddenberry’s initial stab at Trek – which was rejected by NBC, but impressed them enough to order a second pilot -- included some of the elements that fans came to know and love, but it also in many ways differed tremendously from what viewers saw later upon the premiere of “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” To celebrate the occasion, StarTrek.com has compiled factoids about “The Cage,” many of which will be familiar to longtime fans, but should prove, to borrow the word of an old Vulcan friend, fascinating, to Trek newcomers.
-- Leonard Nimoy played Spock… with just a touch of emotion (he smiles broadly in one scene). Nimoy had guest starred previously on Roddenberry’s series, The Lieutenant. He also, interestingly, shared the screen briefly with William Shatner in “The Project Strigas Affair,” an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that aired on November 24, 1964.
-- Majel Barrett played Number One, the ship’s second in command. The story goes that NBC, when they OK-ed a second pilot, compelled Roddenberry to pick either the pointy-eared alien or the female first officer; he could not have both. Barrett, who went on to marry Roddenberry, later portrayed Nurse Chapel and provided the voice of most of the computer systems heard throughout the Trek shows and movies. Barrett-Roddenberry passed away on December 18, 2008, not long after voicing the Enterprise computer one last time for Star Trek (2009).
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