Dubbed "The Great Bird Of The Galaxy' by his fan, friends and foes, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was either a sinner or a saint (or both) depending on who you talk to.
Headstrong and highly motivated since a young child as a restless young man
Gene floated between jobs on the railroad, became a railroad detective and when
his family moved to L.A. he became a police patrol officer, a position he held
for 25 years.
During his tenure as policeman the writing bug bit Gene in a big way.
Determined to exploit his newfound writing capabilities Gene pounded the
pavement landing jobs as a screenwriter for various Detective and Western TV
series at the time.
Frustrated that TV censorship did not allow him to expound of the social
injustices and events of the times he decided to create his own TV series so he
could obtain (in his mind) complete creative control.
His first TV series, 'The Lieutenant' only lasted a year but it taught Gene
an important lesson.
Social relevance must be camouflaged in order to air on TV.
Pitching his idea for a science fiction series abut a exploratory spacecraft
as 'The Wagon Train to the stars." Gene managed to get NBC to spring for a
Deemed too cerebral, the pilot episode of Star Trek: 'The Menagerie' ,
impressed NBC executives enough for them to make the unprecedented decision to
foot the bill for a second -pilot, 'Where Man Has Gone Before' with William
Shatner as Captain Kirk. The show
showcased more action and was green-lighted b NBC.
From the beginning the show was steeped in problems: a low budget,
censorship restraints, network interference and the biggest obstacle to the series:
Extremely protective of his creation and its message (shades of liberalism,
socialism and a utopian view of the future) Gene constantly rewrote scripts,
conflicted with cast and crew and eventually was forced off the series during its
During his time on the series Gene began to show his true colors: a
womanizer, authoritarian, a manipulator, self-serving and often difficult to
work with. Yet at times he could be
very warm, forgiving and generous.
This dichotomy haunted Gene for the rest of his life all the way through the
Star Trek movies and his final Trek creation: The Next Generation-which he
eventually was dismissed from.
Author Lance Parkin and publisher Aurum Press delve into the
enigma that was Gene Roddenberry and his (often drastic) up and downs which he
experienced during his lifetime.
Friends and associates give witness to the complex nature of Gene in a
no-holds barred examination of the man responsible for a world-wide phenomenon.