The Archive of American Television has interviewed many actors, visual effects artists, directors, stuntmen, writers, and others involved in the production of NBC’s Star Trek (1966-1969) as well as its spin-offs. Below are a few gems from the archive’s collection featuring stories you may not have heard before about the series and its cast. From Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) to Lt. La Forge (LeVar Burton), check out the full interviews with each of these TV legends in the videos and links below.
For Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, the characters were all metaphors for a larger vision
George Takei explains how “Sulu” got his name.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced “Uhura” to stay on Star Trek!
Nichelle Nichols (“Uhura”) was about to quit the series, when a chance encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. opened her eyes to the important role that she had in representing African-Americans on television.
Leonard Nimoy created Mr. Spock’s “Vulcan salute”
Leonard Nimoy (“Mr. Spock”) explains where the famed “Vulcan salute” came from.
William Shatner almost missed out on being “Captain Kirk”
William Shatner was cast as “Alexander the Great” but thankfully, the project failed and he took the role of “Captain Kirk” by default.
Joan Collins’ daughter convinced her to appear on Star Trek
Actress Joan Collins appeared on one of Star Trek’s most beloved episodes and even attended a convention!
The Enterprise’s “whoosh” in Star Trek’s opening was voiced by the theme’s composer
Composer Alexander Courage describes how he came up with the theme song for Star Trek.
“Khan” left Mr. Roarke in the dust
Ricardo Montalban was worried audiences would identify him with Fantasy Island’s “Mr. Roarke” when he reprised the role of “Khan” on Star Trek, but he was able to find the character’s true voice by watching the original 1967 episode “Space Seed” where he first played “Khan.
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Geordi could see all, but the actor playing him saw almost nothing!
LeVar Burton “Geordi La Forge” actually could not see behind his character’s visor.
The secret to the transporter effect was fireworks
Director Joseph Wilcots reveals how the shimmery effect was created.
For more about Star Trek, visit the Archive’s curated show page.