Written by a former Air Force Captain-turned-speechwriter, Roddenberry's vision of a utopian, pan-cultural starship voyaging through uncharted space was warmly received by television studios, but dismissed out of hand as being "too cerebral" by one executive.
True to her bubble-headed character on the hit, "I Love Lucy", Ball initially thought "Star Trek" was about Hollywood celebrities entertaining troops at USO shows.
It was exactly 50 years ago today that Star Trek premiered on NBC. "Mail me a self-addressed stamped envelope", Steffen says, "and they just kind of write down where they want the stamp canceled...and then they have to have it self-addressed so I can send it back to them".
Not everyone will see the Star Trek-inspired content, however. "Star Trek." Get it? Countless books, video games and internet sites are devoted to it.
The current film series, which includes this summer's movie "Star Trek Beyond", stars actors including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana as younger versions of the original series' characters.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the original television series has spawned four spinoff series and 13 feature films, including this summer's "Star Trek Beyond". That tour visited the Cleveland Playhouse this past March.
Star Trek was well received with many viewers thanks to story lines that touched on important social issues.
For example, the crew of a space shuttle mission launched in 2011 parodied the 2009 Star Trek movie reboot for their poster. At the height of the Cold War, Captain James T Kirk operated in an atmosphere of trust with his Russian navigator Pavel Chekov.
"We feel very grateful for the fans because Gene Roddenberry created the series, it was his vision and his philosophy and his belief, his confidence in humankind's ability to solve problems and move forward", Takei said.
And there are those for whom the Enterprise's cool battle scenes against villains like the Klingons, the Romulans and the Borg are the reason to watch. "As humans, I hope we can overcome poverty and disease and be a part of something that's really big like exploring the stars, exploring the galaxy, meeting other alien races and being able to get along". "Beam me up." "Live long and prosper".
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