So when the series made its premiere on Sept 8, 1966 we are introduced to officers who were not just white American males (Kirk and McCoy) but also an alien (Spock), a Scott (Scotty), an Oriental (Sulu), and an African woman (Uhura). A Russian (Chekov) was added a year later. This was unheard of at the time. Other "military" shows of the era were all white and all male: McHALES NAVY, VOYAGE to the BOTTOM of the SEA, and GOMER PYLE, to name just a few.
The point of the series was its inclusiveness. I remember watching it as a kid and wanting to spend more time with the supporting characters instead of Kirk and Spock. (And who would have guessed I would grow up to have a "mixed marriage" and a little Spockette of my own?) People as varied as Whoopi Goldberg and Astonaut Mae Jamison have said that they watched STAR TREK to see people like themselves on television. A quick perusal of other 1966 TV shows paints you the picture: besides MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (another Desilu producion which also made its debut in 1966), I SPY, DAKTARI, and HOGAN'S HEROES, *NO* other TV show featured any African-American as a regular cast member. And all of these series featured actors, not actresses. So that's approximately 60 shows that were Lily White. No wonder Whoopi watched STAR TREK, haha!
Nichelle Nichols, the wonderful actress who portrayed Lt. Uhura, has told the story about her planning to quit STAR TREK because she was not satisfied with the scripts for her character. Certainly, especially in the first year, her charater is wontonly unused. Several episodes where she should have been used she was replaced by some other nameless Lietenant who just happened to be White. (I'm thinking specifically of "Shore Leave" and "The Squire of Gothos") However, she happened to meet Dr. Martn Luther King at about this time, and according to her he insisted that she stay, saying that this barrier, once crossed, could never be closed again. She stayed.
|Originally Lt. Uhura wore Command Gold.|
|The original Communications Officer in the pilot, Lloyd |
Hayes, who went on to stardom in ROOM 222