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How Did Lucille Ball Ensure the Success of “Star Trek”?

Lucille Ball, as head of Desilu Productions, took a bold leap of faith by greenlighting "Star Trek," despite resistance from her board. Her vision and determination championed the groundbreaking series, securing its place in television history. She saw potential in its unique storytelling, ultimately shaping the sci-fi landscape. What other risks did she take that paid off? Join us to uncover her legacy.

Star Trek is undoubtedly an iconic TV show, but it might never have gotten off the ground if it weren't for another TV star: Lucille Ball. The comedic redhead and television producer liked what she saw in the original "Star Trek" series so much that she personally financed two pilots and backed the sci-fi classic with her Desilu Productions, which she founded with ex-husband Desi Arnaz.

Allegedly, Ball originally thought that the show was about USO performers on the road, but she soon caught on. Ball even overruled her studio's board regarding financing not only the original pilot of the series but the second one as well. NBC rejected the first, but Lucille Ball didn't let go. William Shatner was brought in as Captain Kirk for the second pilot, and with Ball's backing, the show won NBC's approval. According to Ed Holly, a former studio executive, “If it were not for Lucy, there would be no Star Trek today.” In other words, Lucille Ball boldly went where few execs had gone before.

Trek trivia:

  • The only person to play himself on Star Trek was Stephen Hawking, who plays poker in one episode.

  • William Shatner has said that he's never watched any Star Trek shows or movies.

  • James Doohan, who played Scotty on the show, invented the Klingon language.

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    • With her Desilu Studios, Lucille Ball pushed for the original "Star Trek" to be made, even financing two pilots.
      With her Desilu Studios, Lucille Ball pushed for the original "Star Trek" to be made, even financing two pilots.