“Toss these pages in the air if you like, stomp off and be angry, it doesn’t mean that much since you’ve driven me to the edge of not giving a damn. No, William, I’m not really writing this to Leonard and just including you as a matter of psychology. I’m talking to you directly and with an angry honesty you haven’t heard before. And Leonard, you’d be very wrong if you think I’m really teeing off at Shatner and only pretending to include you. The same letter to both; you’ve pretty well divided up the market on selfishness and egocentricity.”—Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, in an Aug. 17, 1967 letter to stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, quoted in Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, “An Oral History of ‘Star Trek,’” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2016
Yeah, Wise Guy, I know I had a post five years ago about the premiere of Star Trek. I even had a second post related to the series, on “The Trouble With Tribbles” episode. So what’s it to you? Listen: If I do nothing to commemorate the debut of the show on NBC 50 years ago today, I’m going to have more than a few readers ready to send me to the transporter room, about to be launched where no man has gone before.
But anyway, I have an excuse for writing about it again: the great oral history article from which today’s quote comes. Particularly eye-opening was Roddenberry’s scalding shape-up-or-ship-out screed to Shatner and Nimoy, as they competed for lines, screen time, and fan attention.
The tough love worked. The unlikely friendship between impetuous Captain Kirk and cerebral Vulcan Mr. Spock became not only one of the most deeply valued aspects of this pioneering sci-fi series, but also of the film franchise that relaunched the Enterprise a decade after NBC yanked the show off the air.