Little-known sci-fi fact: How Star Trek was saved by ... Lucille Ball?

Contributed by
Aug 5, 2013, 2:58 PM EDT

It seems that if it weren't for the interest of a particularly powerful comedy legend, we might not have Star Trek today.

Back in 1964, creator Gene Roddenberry found a home for his still-developing sci-fi 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 their broundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy. By 1964, the couple were divorced, and Ball was sole owner of the lucrative studio, making her a true Hollywood power player (a rarity for a woman in the '60s). Though some within her studio apparently 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 died.

In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage." It was rejected by the network, reportedly because it was "too cerebral," and for most shows that's where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that she still thought 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." That 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 know it today.

(Via How-To Geek and Yahoo!)

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