Star Trek officially debuted on September 8, 1966, with the episode "The Man Trap." No one quite realized it at the time -- how could they? -- but life would never be the same after that. Gene Roddenberry's so-called "Wagon Train to the Stars" went on to become iconic, one of the most important and influential entertainment franchises in history. Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig have graciously agreed to help StarTrek.com commemorate Star Trek's 45th anniversary by each answering several questions in person, by phone or via email. So, visit StarTrek.com daily between now and Saturday to read their replies.
And here's question number three:
What's your most enduring Gene Roddenberry anecdote?
Koenig: My most enduring memory of Gene is just when he would appear on the set with a big smile. We always thought it was a special moment because he wasn’t there every day. He always came on the set, it seemed to me, with some ebullience and some good feelings. It seemed to me to always be a positive feeling.
Takei: Right after he was divorced from his wife, Evelyn, Gene had a house in the Hollywood Hills with a pool. And he threw a party. He went in for a swim, as did a few other people, and as did I. Most of the people were gathered at one end of the pool, talking poolside, and Gene was at the other end, the quiet end of the pool. I swam up to him and started chatting. I didn’t come out to him, but I talked to him about some of the conversations I’d been having with fans, who’d said that we were dealing with diversity – racial diversity, ancestral diversity – but not the diversity of sexual orientation. So I didn’t speak personally, but I spoke in terms of the issue. And he said, yes, he was well aware of that, but that he was dealing with issues that were pretty controversial, as they were, and he said that the episode in which Bill and Nichelle kissed was blacked out in the southern parts of the country. His point was that he needed to keep Star Trek on and that the parameters of what he could get away with were known, and that if he crossed that too far over that threshold, that the opportunities to make the statements he was making would be lost. So he was making a practical decision and basically taking his shots.
Nichols: That's a tough one for me to answer because what he meant to me is very personal. He was a giant among men and yet so humble with his friends. An incredible GIANT of a man who changed the universe and continues to do so with his dream of what we should, could, and WILL continue to become... the best that we can possibly be. He will always be missed and always loved by those who KNOW! Gene Roddenberry Jr. (Rod Roddenberry), Gene & Majel's gift to the world, carries on the Dream... As I loved his parents, I love him as a son... It's okay, Kyle... I know you're my one and only!
Shatner: Gene trying to make me wear what became known as the IDIC.
Nimoy: Mr. Roddenberry could take a troubled script handed in by a writer and do wonderful rewrite work.
Tomorrow, the surviving regular cast members of Star Trek answer the question, When did it truly hit you that Star Trek had become a cultural icon?