In an interview, a legendary Star Trek actor has claimed that series creator Gene Roddenberry “had little to do” with the show after the first 13 episodes. Is this claim about the “Great Bird of the Galaxy” true? Here’s everything you need to know about these claims, and who made them.
William Shatner Said Roddenberry Had ‘Little To Do’ With Show Midway Through Season 1
During the course of an interview to promote the 35th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, William Shatner let an interesting tidbit slip out. During an interview with IGN, Shatner was asked about his working relationship with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.
Shatner stated: “Gene was a typical writer in that he lived in his head a lot…And in fact, had little to do with Star Trek after the first 13 shows.”
Shatner also noted that when Roddenberry became a “writer-slash-producer”, it may have been difficult for Roddenberry. Shatner argued “the fit may not have been exact,” referencing Roddenberry’s changing focus from writing to becoming a writer-producer.
Takei Provided Additional Insights on Roddenberry’s Activities
In a 2011 interview, actor George Takei, who also appeared on Star Trek, spoke a little about how Gene’s day-to-day focus on the set. In the interview, Takei stated, “Gene concentrated on the writing part. And from everything that I’ve heard, he kept ridiculous hours there, he practically slept on that couch in his office at Desilu Studios. He kept long hours…but he would occasionally visit us on set.”
Given the comments made by both Shatner and Takei, its possible Shatner’s recollection that Roddenberry was less involved after the first 13 episodes was based on seeing the creator only “occasionally” on set after Roddenberry became a producer.
It has been reported that Roddenberry did adjust his on-set duties during the show’s first season. According to IGN, there were certainly some behind-the-scenes shakeups among the production team. Their analysis of Shatner’s comments about Roddenberry noted: “In the first half of the first season, Roddenberry worked with associate producers Robert Justman and John D.F. Black. When Black left the show in August, 1966, and facing exhaustion himself from the workload, Roddenberry brought in Gene Coon to replace Black, while also transitioning himself to the role of executive producer.”
Roddenberry remained an executive producer on the series through 1969, when it was canceled.
Myths Still Persist About Roddenberry
Check out the video above, which debunks some common myths and misconceptions fans have about Roddenberry. One such myth is the idea that the studio reluctant to hire Majel Barrett, who first appeared as Number One in the unaired Star Trek pilot. After a change to her hair, she later joined the series to play the part of Nurse Chapel. According to Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, written by veteran Star Trek insiders Herb Solow and Robert Justman, the story about NBC having an issue with a female first officer was not just a myth, but a myth created and perpetuated by Roddenberry himself.