If it wasn’t for Lucille Ball, there wouldn’t be any Trekkies

The ultimate decision to put the original Star Trek series on the air back in 1966 fell into the hands of Lucille Ball. She was a studio executive (Desilu) who wielded power over decisions like which shows will move forward and which shouldn’t. She took the Star Trek plunge, the rest is mega science fiction franchise history.

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedienne, model, film studio executive, and TV producer. She was the star of the sitcoms I Love LucyThe Lucy–Desi Comedy HourThe Lucy ShowHere’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.

How Star Trek was launched:

In April 1964, Gene Roddenberry presented the Star Trek draft to Desilu Productions, a leading independent television production company. He met with Herb Solow, Desilu’s Director of Production. Solow saw promise in the idea and signed a three-year program-development contract with Roddenberry.

The idea was extensively revised and fleshed out during this time – ‘The Cage’ pilot filmed in late 1964 differs in many respects from the March 1964 treatment. Solow, for example, added the Star Date concept.

Desilu Productions had a first-look deal with CBS. Oscar Katz, Desilu’s Vice President of Production, went with Roddenberry to pitch the series to the network. They refused to purchase the show, as they already had a similar show in development, the 1965 Irwin Allen series Lost in Space.

In May 1964, Solow, who previously worked at NBC, met with Grant Tinker, then head of the network’s West Coast programming department. Tinker commissioned the first pilot – which became ‘The Cage’. NBC turned down the resulting pilot, stating that it was ‘too cerebral.’ However, the NBC executives were still impressed with the concept, and they understood that its perceived faults had been partly because of the script that they had selected themselves.

NBC made the unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, using the script called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Only the character of Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was retained from the first pilot, and only two cast members, Majel Barrett and Nimoy, were carried forward into the series. This second pilot proved to be satisfactory to NBC, and the network selected Star Trek to be in its upcoming television schedule for the fall of 1966.

The second pilot introduced most of the other main characters: Captain Kirk (William Shatner), chief engineer Lt. Commander Scott (James Doohan) and Lt. Sulu (George Takei), who served as a physicist on the ship in the second pilot but subsequently became a helmsman throughout the rest of the series. Paul Fix played Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot; ship’s doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the cast when filming began for the first season, and he remained for the rest of the series, achieving billing as the third star of the series. Also joining the ship’s permanent crew during the first season were the communications officer, Lt. Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), the first African-American woman to hold such an important role in an American television series; the captain’s yeoman, Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), who departed midway through the first season; and Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), head nurse and assistant to McCoy. Walter Koenig joined the cast as Ensign Pavel Chekov in the series’ second season.

In February 1966, Star Trek was nearly killed by Desilu Productions, before airing the first episode. Desilu had gone from making just one half-hour show (The Lucy Show), to deficit financing a portion of two expensive hour-long shows, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Solow was able to convince LUCILLE BALL that both shows should continue.

 

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Imagine the world without Trekkies.

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The Cone of Silence

The Cone of Silence is one of many recurring joke devices from Get Smart, a 1960s American comedy television series about an inept spy. The essence of the joke is that the apparatus, designed for secret conversations, makes it impossible for those inside the device – and easy for those outside the device – to hear the conversation.

The portable Cone of Silence.

Lily Munster – Irresistible Dark Beauty

Lily Munster, Countess of Shroudshire (née Dracula), is a fictional character in the 1960’s CBS sitcom, The Munsters, originally played by Yvonne De Carlo. The matriarch of the Munster household, Lily is a vampire.

Lily was born in 1827 to Sam Dracula (Grandpa) and his 166th wife (referred to only as “Grandma”). She lived with Grandpa for some time in Transylvania (a region in Romania) before meeting Herman Munster and marrying him in 1865. She, Grandpa, and Herman moved to America sometime before the mid-1940s and adopted her sister’s child, Marilyn. In the mid-1950s, she gave birth to Eddie, her and Herman’s only child.

Her name is presumably derived from the tradition of the lily as a flower of death, or a vague reference to Lilith, a female demon of Jewish mythology.

 

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Lily is the matriarch of the Munster family. She is very close with her niece, Marilyn. She has a werewolf for a brother, who appears in one episode, and a sister who is mentioned a few times who is Marilyn’s mother. Lily is the voice of reason in the Munster household, often relied upon to set problems right, and typically mediates when Herman and Grandpa squabble.

 

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Lily and Herman

 

Lily also has a fiery temper. While she is deeply in love with Herman (“Pussycat,” as she calls him), she also frequently gets very angry at him (due to his frequent stupidity and occasional selfishness), and Herman often meekly discloses his fear (to others) of being on the receiving end of her wrath. She also has reprimanded her own father (Grandpa) on several occasions for his own foolish actions and stubborn self-righteousness.

Lily is a beautiful and slender woman who appears to be in her middle age years, although she is actually hundreds of years old. A white streak in her hair recalls the monster’s mate from Bride of Frankenstein. Lily usually dresses in an ankle-length pale pink gown that appears faded and old, and she sometimes also wears a scarf. Her necklace features a bat-shaped medallion. When away from the Munster house, she sometimes wears a long silver cape with a hood. In the episode “Munsters Masquerade”, Lily demonstrates the ability to float in the air while dancing.

 

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Gothic Underwear

 

Herman loves it

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Action-Packed Sc-Fi Cartoon TV Series from the Sixties

Jonny Quest (also known as The Adventures of Jonny Quest) is an American animated science fiction adventure television series about a boy who accompanies his scientist father on extraordinary adventures. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems, and created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey.

This was a cartoon series! Indiana Jones combined with James Bond and blended with The Mummy movies. Supernatural, Science Fiction, military action and espionage, this series covered all things a 14 year old boy loves, or in my humble opinion should love.

 

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Inspired by radio serials and comics in the action-adventure genre, it featured more realistic art, characters, and stories than Hanna-Barbera’s previous cartoon programs. It was the first of several Hanna-Barbera action-based adventure shows – which would later include Space GhostThe Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio – and ran on ABC in prime time on early Friday nights for one season in 1964–1965.

 

Bad guy frogman blasting away with a laser cannon!

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Canned Laughter

Even 1960s cartoons such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons used laugh tracks.

 

Charley Douglass didn’t like the laughter he was hearing.

The sound engineer, who was working at CBS in the early days of television, hated that the studio audiences on the US TV channel’s shows laughed at the wrong moments, didn’t laugh at the right moments, or laughed too loudly or for too long. So he took a page from radio producers before him who had pioneered the use of recorded laughter, most notably when Bing Crosby began pre-recording his show – which allowed his engineers to add or subtract the laughs in post-production.

The idea of ‘the laugh track’ spread quickly through the new medium—and caused immediate controversy that would last until modern times. Actor and producer David Niven sniffed in a 1955 interview, “The laugh track is the single greatest affront to public intelligence I know of, and it will never be foisted on any audience of a show I have some say about.” But TV producers remained wed to the idea of providing some sort of audience reaction to make the viewing experience more communal; after all, audiences were still largely used to enjoying their entertainment via live performance or in the cinema, both of which provided fellow laughers. The industry’s ambivalence toward the practice was best summed up in a cursory Billboard magazine item in 1955: “TV production chief Babe Unger hates canned laugh tracks, but thinks audience reaction is necessary for The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater because TV viewers expect an audience to be there.”

Seinfeld is one of the most cutting-edge sitcoms of all time, but it too had canned laughter despite looking more like a single-camera show (Credit: NBC)

Seinfeld is one of the most cutting-edge sitcoms of all time, but it too had canned laughter despite looking more like a single-camera show (Credit: NBC)

Breaking Bad as a Sitcom with canned laughter.

ABC’s Wide World of Sports

ABC’s Wide World of Sports was an American sports anthology television program that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from April 29, 1961 to January 3, 1998, primarily on Saturday afternoons. Hosted by Jim McKay, with a succession of co-hosts beginning in 1987, the title continued to be used for general sports programs on the network until 2006. In 2007, Wide World of Sports was named by Time on its list of the 100 best television programs of all-time.

ABC’s Wide World Of Sports Intro – 1969