Even though not all Star Trek fans have known her importance on the existence of Star Trek, would Star Trek in its current beloved form still exist today if not for Lucille Ball?
By: Ringo Bones
Without the help of Lucille Ball, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek would have been the most brilliant still-born idea in 1960s Hollywood. But what do I Love Lucy and Star Trek have in common?
Back in 1964, Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry found a home for his still fledgling science fiction series at Desilu Productions, the studio founded in 1951 by the husband and wife team of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz who became television superstars in the 1950s with the groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy and hence the name Desilu - which is a contracted combination of Desi and Lucy. By 1964, the couple divorced and Lucille Ball became the sole owner of the lucrative studio making her a true Hollywood player – which was a rarity for a woman in the 1960s. But some within her studio weren’t very excited by Roddenberry’s ideas. Ball took a liking to the writer and the Star trek concept and it was her influence that would eventually keep the show alive when most other shows would have been scrapped by the powers-that-be.
In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot titled “The Cage”. It was rejected by the network execs because it was deemed “too cerebral” and for most pilots that’s where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that Ball still thought that the Star Trek idea had legs and used her considerable influence in television to push for NBC to give Roddenberry a second chance. The network made the exceedingly rare move of ordering a second pilot from Roddenberry who overhauled almost the entire cast of characters from “The Cage” and eventually produced “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. The pilot was accepted, the show was given a series order and the rest is history. So if it weren’t for the Hollywood clout, and eye for story, of an iconic redheaded comedienne-turned-mogul, we might not have Star Trek as we now it today.