lucille ball

Remember That Time Lucille Ball Saved Star Trek?

Why Trekkies everywhere should love Lucy.

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Today would have been Lucille Ball’s 107th birthday. The iconic redhead, best known for her groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy, was a television pioneer and inventor of the situation comedy. Ball is remembered for her comedic genius, but did you know that she singlehandedly saved Star Trek: The Original Series?

Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz formed Desilu Productions, which was responsible for several popular television series like The Andy Griffith Show, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and The Dick Van Dyke Show. After the couple divorced in 1960, Ball took over control of the company, which was almost unheard of for a woman at the time.

Upon hearing the pitch for Star Trek, Lucille Ball took a shine to the concept and its creator, championing them when other executives said no.

At the time, science fiction series were few and far between, and no one thought that a genre show like Star Trek could garner mass appeal. NBC ordered the series pilot, “The Cage,” but were unhappy with the results, deeming it “too cerebral.” NBC planned to cancel the pilot, but Ball still thought the show was something special. She pushed NBC to remake the pilot and do a series overhaul (a move unheard of at the time), and they ended up with “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” And the rest is sci-fi legend.

Looking back, it’s no surprise that Ball took to Roddenberry’s vision. A future where women and people of color are treated as equals totally jibes with her ethos. I Love Lucy broke similar ground when it became the first series to feature an interracial couple, then the first series to feature and discuss pregnancy based on Ball’s real life pregnancy. Lucille Ball was an innovator both in front of and behind the scenes, and her work will be remembered for years to come.

Live long and prosper, Lucy.

(via Entertainment Weekly, Syfy, image: David McNew/Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.