Star Trek is a franchise that arguably exists due to fan involvement. After the original series was canceled, fans got together to form conventions, which proved the viability of the franchise (and its costumes). An animated series soon followed, and before long, Star Trek: The Next Generation came around to completely revamp the franchise for... well, the next generation.
From there, the franchise expanded to add more television series. Star Trek is here to stay, and because it's been on since the 1960s, it's had its fair share of actors taking part. Many of these actors have become fan favorites - but how much do you really know about William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Nichelle Nichols, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and all the rest?
This list highlights some of the more fascinating stories about everyone's favorite Star Trek actors.
Leonard Nimoy Was A Champion For Pay Equality
In the United States and around the world, women are paid less than their male counterparts in all kinds of industries, including the arts. On Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura, didn't receive the same amount of pay as her fellow bridge crew officers, which Leonard Nimoy wasn't happy about.
Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, told the Las Vegas Sun, "When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George [Takei] and I were getting the same pay, but Nichelle was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard, and he took it to the front office, and they corrected that."
Nimoy also intervened to help his fellow cast members on the Star Trek animated series:
George and Nichelle were not hired to do their voices in the animated series. I refused to do Spock until they were hired. Mr. Roddenberry started calling me the conscience of Star Trek.382Cool fact?
- Photo: Star Trek: The Next Generation / CBS Television Distribution
Actress Majel Barrett was married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and had a few other important roles, as well. On the original series, she played Nurse Christine Chapel, and in Star Trek: The Next Generation, she played Lwaxana Troi. She reprised the role on Deep Space Nine, but her biggest contribution to the franchise was her role as the voice of Starfleet's interactive computer.
Barrett was so heavily involved in the franchise that people often referred to her as the "First Lady of Star Trek." Before she passed in December 2008, Barrett gave the franchise one last gift: She recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds, words, and phrases so her voice could continue serving aboard Starfleet's mightiest vessels long after her passing.
In 2009, her vocalizations were used in the rebooted franchise, and thanks to her contribution, that trend should continue into the foreseeable future.311Cool fact?
After she had a chance to board the Enterprise on the original Star Trek series, Nichelle Nichols opted to continue supporting the exploration of the cosmos by working for NASA. As a recruiter for the agency from the late 1970s until the late '80s, Nichols was responsible for finding new astronaut candidates.
Many of the people she brought into the agency were women and/or members of ethnic minorities. Her role as Uhura certainly broke a lot of stereotypical rules for television in the 1960s, and she continued to push for the same kind of advancement for women and other minorities.
Some of her recruits included Guion Bluford, the first Black astronaut; Mae Jemison, the first female Black astronaut; Sally Ride; and Judith Resnik and Ronald McNair, two of the astronauts who perished on the Challenger.271Cool fact?
Long before DeForest Kelley boarded the USS Enterprise on Star Trek as Dr. McCoy, he wanted to be a medical doctor. He couldn't afford medical school, so he opted to play a doctor on TV. Throughout his tenure as the ship's chief medical officer, Kelley received fan letters from people telling him that he was their inspiration for becoming a doctor.
Kelley said he was incredibly proud of his influence on the medical profession: "You can win awards and that sort of thing, but to influence the youth of the country... is an award that is not handed out by the industry."251Cool fact?