Star Trek Turns 50: Where to Boldly Go Celebrate

‘Star Trek’ turns 50: Where to boldly go celebrate

On a fall Thursday evening in 1966, kids dodging bedtime saw something quite different on NBC: the birth of a pop culture phenomenon.

Sept. 8 marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of the original “Star Trek,” which hatched a galaxy of spinoffs and knockoffs despite Jupiter-size odds. Its 1960s soundstages were cheesy and often populated by wooden actors dressed in glorified PJs. Never too popular with critics or the general public, the series ran for just three seasons — 79 episodes. It required hardcore, letter-writing fans to keep the starship Enterprise active that long (and longer). And they were out there.

What set “Star Trek” apart from other sci-fi programs was that creator Gene Roddenberry’s plots were cloned to larger issues, like racism and militarism. Adding to its enduring appeal were the tension and affinity among this “space opera’s” main characters, including Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner), his logic-driven first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy played the half-Vulcan) and the feisty doctor, Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley).

John Bordsen
Chicago Tribune

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