Bizarre Things That Happened On The Set Of Star Trek

No other television show has boldly gone quite
so many places as Star Trek. The series may have only been on the air for
three seasons, but there's some really entertaining stories about the shenanigans that happened
on set. Here are some bizarre things that happened
on the set of Star Trek. Tinnitus plagues 50 million Americans, and
it's one of those things that's a lot worse than it sounds. Tinnitus is the medical term for a ringing
in the ears that never goes away, and some special effects caused two key Star Trek cast
members to experience it.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were both
standing too close to a special effects explosion during the filming of the first season Star
Trek episode "Arena." For years, both men suffered from tinnitus,
but it was especially debilitating for Shatner. The actor wrote: "There were days when I didn't know how I
would survive the agony. I was so tormented by the screeching in my
head I really thought I would not be able to go on." He eventually found relief with what's known
as "tinnitus retraining therapy," which requires patients to wear a noise-generating device
that teaches the brain to ignore the ringing sound.

The therapy worked, and Shatner says he no
longer suffers from the disorder. Today, William Shatner has a reputation as
being a pretty mellow guy who isn't afraid to make fun of himself. But during the early years of Star Trek, he
was kind of a diva. When the producers told the cast the show
would feature the world's first televised interracial kiss, they'd already decided it
would be between Spock and Uhura, which would have made it the world's first human and alien
kiss as well. Shatner was not having it. In his mind, if there was going to be a first
anything on Star Trek, he needed to be a part of that. Evidently, the show's producers felt bullied
by their spoiled star, so they re-wrote the scene to make that first interracial kiss
between Kirk and Uhura instead. Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, later
told the Vancouver Sun: "Bill wanted to rehearse all the time. He said he wanted to get this right! I said to him, 'It's right, it's right. I promise you, it's right.' And the camera was shaking and the director
was laughing his head off.

We really had a good time." "And we're laughing, you know in between every
cut, he's doing things like, 'I told you I would get you one day.' No you didn't." Star Trek was one of the most progressive
television shows of its time. It had a black actress in a starring role,
and her character was fourth in command of a 23rd century starship. But just because Nichelle Nichols played a
character who existed in a world without racism doesn't mean that she was treated that way
off-camera. The actress was sometimes told she couldn't
go through the same studio gate as the other actors. She told The Huffington Post: "There were instances where I was turned away
from entering the studio at the walk-on gate, and I had to go all the way around to the
front gate, sign-in and come back. A guard on the set told me I had no right
being there — that they had replaced a blue-eyed blonde with me." Nichols stuck with it, though. In fact, an encounter with Martin Luther King,
Jr.

Convinced her to remain on the show right when she was on the brink of leaving. He reminded her that her role on Star Trek
went beyond being black or a woman. King told the actress that she had broken
ground playing Uhura. Nichols continued to play the character for
25 years. The Enterprise was no stranger to infestations. There were those adorable, if totally featureless
and personality-free, tribbles. Then there was that weird infestation of short-lived
humans known as red shirts. There were a couple of non-fiction infestations,
too. "I want these things off the ship, I don't
care if it takes every man that we've got, I want them off the ship." Pigeons infiltrated the set during the filming
of the first pilot.

The birds were nesting in the rafters, and
they had an annoying habit of cooing whenever then-lead Jeffrey Hunter had a line. The crew tried to shoo them away, but they
kept flying into the equipment. They were finally able to lure the pigeons
off set with breadcrumbs. That wouldn't be the last time the set was
infiltrated by pests, though. A colony of bees swarmed the set during the
filming of the second pilot, "Where No Man has Gone Before." "Not the bees! My eyes! My eyes!" The bees, or wasps, depending on the story,
descended during the fifth day of production, terrorizing the cast and crew. William Shatner was stung on the eyelid, which
you can spot if you watch the episode closely. There was no such thing as CGI in the 1960s,
so if you were going to have a scene with a tiger, you had to have a scene with a tiger. That was the plan for the 1966 episode "Shore
Leave," but not everyone thought it was a great idea. Shatner, though, wasn't just cool with the
idea, he thought Captain Kirk should possibly wrestle the tiger, until the beast got loose
and, quote, "went berserk." But once he actually saw it, Shatner changed
his mind about the whole wrestling thing.

The actor later recalled: "Instantly my testicles rose up into my Adam's
apple and the ignorant machismo that had be pulsing so heartily through my veins was replaced
by sheer abject terror. I stood there trying not to look too horrified
as I gracefully backed down [from wrestling the tiger] 'for the good of the show.'" Imagine you wheel your grocery cart up to
the automatic doors at the store, and said doors just fail to open. That, minus the grocery cart, was pretty much
a reality for the actors on the original Star Trek. The reason the doors failed so spectacularly
is because they weren't really automatic. They were just operated by a pair of stagehands. They usually failed because one or both stagehands
missed their cue and didn't open them in time. It happened so frequently there is actually
an entire blooper reel containing nothing but William Shatner walking into the automatic
doors.

The sliding door problem was never really
overcome, either. It continued to plague Star Trek productions
through subsequent incarnations of the franchise. Star Trek has come a long way in terms of
its portrayal of women. But in the early days, female characters weren't
exactly known to have much depth. Actress Teri Garr played a ditzy secretary
in the second season finale "Assignment: Earth," and it's a role that she has since come to
despise. The reason, though, is still something of
a mystery. Garr evidently disliked being on Star Trek
so much that more than 20 years after her appearance, she still didn't want to talk
about it. When Starlog magazine tried to ask her questions
about that long-ago role, she became annoyed and told the interviewer: "I have nothing to say about it […] I did
that years ago and I mostly deny I ever did it." "Assignment: Earth" was initially meant to
be the pilot for a spinoff series, but it didn't get picked up, much to Garr's unabashed
pleasure.

She told Starlog: "Thank God […] Otherwise, all I would get
would be Star Trek questions for the rest of my natural life — and probably my unnatural
life. You ever see those people who are Star Trek
fans? The same people who go to swap meets." Low blow, Garr. Low blow. William Shatner may have acted like a brat
throughout the '60s, but he wasn't the only one. In fact, Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at one
time had a huge, mutually bratty rivalry that escalated to the point where they once both
locked themselves in their dressing rooms and refused to come out. George Takei told the story to Howard Stern
in 2010 and explained how the whole row was over a photographer. When Shatner found out a photographer had
shown up on set to photograph Nimoy, he decided it was within his authority to kick the photographer
out.

Takei explained: "Then a group of suits came in and go to Bill's
dressing room and spend about 15 minutes there and then go to Leonard's dressing room […] We'd
see the suits going back and forth from one dressing room to another." As for Shatner kicking the photographer off
set? Takei said his contract actually gave him
free rein to do it. "It turns out that Bill had, in his contract,
an approval of a photographer on the set and he exercised that." Leonard Nimoy got more fan mail than any other
Star Trek cast member.

And because he was a pretty decent guy, he
actually made an effort to respond to his fans. In fact, Nimoy had so much mail to respond
to that he once asked the studio for pens and pencils so he could spend his off time
answering fan mail. You'd think the studio would have been happy
to comply. But it was just the opposite — they refused
to pay for the actor's office supplies. The whole affair eventually turned into a
series of memos in which associate producer Robert Justman said he'd been knocked unconscious
by what he described as: "…a fiercely vise-like grip upon me somewhere
between my neck and shoulders." Shortly thereafter, Justman discovered that
the supplies cabinet had been robbed.

But no one seems to remember if the studio
ever went on to get Nimoy some pens. It's time to face the sticky truth. Spock liked lollipops. But don't worry, it was all perfectly logical. Yes, Leonard Nimoy was fond of sucking on
lollipops between takes. Depending on who you ask, it was either because
a combination of nerves and dialogue-heavy scenes gave him dry mouth, or it was because
he was a smoker and he needed something to do with his hands. Regardless of which theory you subscribe to,
the reason behind Nimoy's lollipop habit isn't actually as much fun as the details about
where he'd stash them during takes. Evidently, when the cameras were rolling he
liked to put his half-sucked lollipop inside the lower panel of his tricorder. While Star Trek's most infamous antics happened
during the first series, later series weren't exactly immune from unprofessional behavior.

When Jeri Ryan joined the cast of Voyager,
ratings skyrocketed. It's hard to say if it was Ryan's acting or
her skin-tight uniform that gave the show a boost. But Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Janeway,
was not impressed by the decision to take the show in a new, more provocative direction. She was even more annoyed by the fact that
it appeared to be working. Mulgrew didn't just keep her budding hatred
for Ryan to herself, either. She it laid out for everyone to see. First, she insisted Ryan be banned from the
restroom, because it took too long for her to get in and out of her outfit, and she was
wasting everybody's time. "You have to realize there are rules.

You'll be expected to follow our protocols." Happily, the studio realized that it would
probably be in violation of some employment law if it refused to allow its employees to
use the bathroom, so they didn't grant Mulgrew's weirdly vindictive request. Mulgrew then showed her displeasure in other
ways, like walking out of scenes with Ryan if she knew she'd be off-camera, thus forcing
the younger actress to deliver her lines to no one.

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