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Data's Day

  • Episode aired Jan 5, 1991

Brent Spiner in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Data tries to comprehend the complex emotions between O'Brien and Keiko, who are about to be married. Data tries to comprehend the complex emotions between O'Brien and Keiko, who are about to be married. Data tries to comprehend the complex emotions between O'Brien and Keiko, who are about to be married.

  • Robert Wiemer
  • Gene Roddenberry
  • Harold Apter
  • Ronald D. Moore
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Jonathan Frakes
  • LeVar Burton
  • 15 User reviews
  • 9 Critic reviews

Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

  • Commander William Thomas 'Will' Riker

LeVar Burton

  • Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge

Michael Dorn

  • Lieutenant Worf

Gates McFadden

  • Doctor Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

  • Counselor Deanna Troi

Brent Spiner

  • Lieutenant Commander Data

Rosalind Chao

  • Keiko Ishikawa

Colm Meaney

  • Chief Miles O'Brien
  • Ambassador T'Pel

Alan Scarfe

  • Adm. Mendak

Shelly Desai

  • Transporter Technician Hubbell

Majel Barrett

  • Enterprise Computer
  • (uncredited)
  • Crewman Martinez
  • Ensign Kellogg

Tracee Cocco

  • Enterprise-D Ensign
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

Did you know

  • Trivia Wide shots of Data and Dr. Crusher tap dancing featured a dancer double for Data, only. Gates McFadden is an accomplished tap dancer, and did all her own work.
  • Goofs In Data's narration/letter to Commander Maddox, he mentions the Enterprise's new mission requires a change of course towards the Romulan Neutral Zone. Since such missions are usually classified or secret, he should not be discussing the mission in a letter to a non-crew member.

Lieutenant Worf : Human bonding rituals often involve a great deal of talking and dancing and crying.

  • Connections Features Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hollow Pursuits (1990)
  • Soundtracks Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage

User reviews 15

  • Sep 7, 2022
  • January 5, 1991 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official site
  • Paramount Studios - 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (Studio)
  • Paramount Television
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 46 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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Memory Alpha

Conundrum (episode)

  • View history
  • 1.2 Act One
  • 1.3 Act Two
  • 1.4 Act Three
  • 1.5 Act Four
  • 1.6 Act Five
  • 1.7 Log entries
  • 2 Memorable quotes
  • 3.1 Production history
  • 3.2 Story and script
  • 3.3 Production
  • 3.4 Sets and props
  • 3.5 Continuity
  • 3.6 Reception
  • 3.8 Video and DVD releases
  • 4.1 Starring
  • 4.2 Also starring
  • 4.3 Guest stars
  • 4.4 Co-stars
  • 4.5 Uncredited co-stars
  • 4.6 Stunt doubles
  • 4.7 Stand-ins
  • 4.8.1 Other references
  • 4.8.2 Retconned references
  • 4.9 External links

Summary [ ]

Shields up

" Scanning intensity has increased by 1,500%. " " Shields up. "

As the crew is going through a typical day, with Data in Ten Forward fixing Deanna Troi a Samarian sunset done in the traditional style to settle a bet over a three-dimensional chess game, Dr. Beverly Crusher tending to Kristin , a crewmember injured while cliff-diving on the holodeck , and Commander Riker arguing with Ensign Ro about her changing ship's procedure without his knowledge, the USS Enterprise -D is approached by a small vessel of unknown configuration. After the vessel initiates an intense scan of the Enterprise , a wave of green energy passes throughout the ship, and the entire crew suffers from memory loss .

Act One [ ]

The crewmembers have forgotten their identities but have retained their appropriate skills for running the ship. What they also don't realize is that there is someone else on the bridge who wasn't there before the wave hit, also wearing a Starfleet uniform and claiming to be suffering from memory loss.

While trying to ascertain who they are and why they are on this starship, Riker suggests to an equally anonymous Captain Picard that he is their leader, since he has four pips on his collar, more than anyone else present. Worf suggests otherwise, and presumes he is the leader because he is the most decorated person on board due to his baldric . Dr. Crusher realizes that she is a medical officer , but the injured crewmember in sickbay still doesn't know what she is doing there. Riker, Ro, and La Forge go to engineering to try to get the engines running. La Forge works on getting propulsion back online and tries to find personnel files so that they'll know who they are while Riker and Ro go to the rest of the ship as a survey team . Worf, in the meantime, has assumed leadership and is happy when La Forge reports the ship is ready for battle with the navigation, propulsion, weapons, and communications back online.

Act Two [ ]

With computer access limited, Riker and Ro travel throughout the ship and confirm that the memory loss is not limited only to the bridge; rather than their normal hostility, the two have an almost playful relationship, with Ro commenting that Riker doesn't look like someone who needs a holodeck to have fun.

After La Forge successfully accesses the ship's computer, he is able to get a list with photos of the Enterprise 's bridge officers . The list confirms that Picard is indeed the commanding officer of the Enterprise . To Worf's dismay, the list has him near the bottom, second to last; he apologizes to Picard for asserting authority where he had none, but Picard tells him to think nothing more of it. Interestingly, the computer's list has one new addition to the ship's regular command crew. Commander Kieran MacDuff is the ship's first officer , and Commander Riker has been bumped down to second officer .

Data and La Forge are able to get more information out of the computer, and they brief the senior officers about their current mission: The Enterprise has been tasked to destroy the Lysian command center as part of a coordinated attack on their mortal enemy, with whom the Federation has been at war for years. The information also suggests that the Lysians have a new weapon which could cause memory loss. Troi wants to open communications with headquarters to confirm their mission, but the Enterprise 's orders include radio silence at all times. Picard orders MacDuff to set a course towards the Lysian command center. Troi doesn't like it.

Act Three [ ]

Troi has a strong feeling that the war is wrong but can't pin down a reason, and Riker suggests it is just due to the general nature of war. When Riker returns to his quarters, he finds Ro lounging in a chair waiting for him. Ro tells Riker that they could be married, and Riker tells it is also equally possible that they hate each other. They begin to lie down on Riker's bed and Riker asks her what if he snores in his sleep . Ro responds by asking him what makes him think he is going to get any sleep tonight.

As the Enterprise crosses into Lysian space, a Lysian destroyer tries to hail the Enterprise . Picard wants to open a channel, but MacDuff suggests that that may be how they lost their memories to begin with. The Lysian destroyer starts to fire at the Enterprise , but the starship is able to easily destroy the Lysian vessel – too easily. MacDuff congratulates Picard for his decisiveness, but the captain is bothered by how ineffective the Lysian's defenses were.

Act Four [ ]

Riker, Troi, and Ro talk

" Am I interrupting anything? " " No. " " No. "

Troi also inexplicably feels that Riker is very " familiar "; the two realize they have some connection when he finds a book , Ode to Psyche by John Keats , which she gave him as a gift "with love", producing a rather awkward moment when Ro arrives and sees them nearly kissing before she kisses Riker herself once Troi leaves. Ro informs Riker that she gets the feeling she used to be the jealous type before giving him a kiss.

Efforts to repair the memory loss have been limited, as La Forge cannot gain access to more detailed personnel files or medical records that might allow Dr. Crusher to safely attempt to restore the crew's memories; MacDuff volunteers despite the risks, but Crusher stops her efforts when he apparently begins having seizures , missing MacDuff's slight sinister smile as she walks away.

Picard wonders if the Federation is truly at war with such a technologically inferior enemy. He feels a moral dilemma, comparing his situation to being given a weapon and told to go into a room to kill a stranger but still wanting to know why; MacDuff counters that it would be wrong to allow the war to continue and claim millions of lives just because Picard is experiencing moral qualms. MacDuff has a private conversation with Worf, his fellow warrior, and warns him there might be a situation where a split-second decision may need to be made, even if Picard has not yet given the orders to do so.

Act Five [ ]

Lysian central command-galaxy class

Lysian starbase

The Enterprise arrives in the Lysian system and proceed towards the Lysian Central Command , where it is intercepted by 47 unmanned Lysian sentry pods . These vessels are easily destroyed, and the Enterprise continues on to the command center. Data informs Picard that the Lysian command center is virtually defenseless with 15,311 people aboard. One photon torpedo could destroy the entire structure, while its entire arsenal could not even damage the Enterprise . Troi again insists the situation is wrong, and Riker poses the question: How could the Federation's mortal enemy be over a hundred years behind it in weapons technology? MacDuff insists that Picard destroy the station, but Picard refuses to fire on defenseless people and instead tells Worf to open a channel. MacDuff tells Worf belay the order and declares that something is wrong with the captain and attempts to assume command, giving Worf an order to fire all weapons. When Worf refuses, MacDuff knocks him away with surprising force and tries to fire himself. Riker shoots him with a phaser . The beam knocks MacDuff back and reveals a shocking fact; he is not Human . Worf and Riker then combine their phaser shots to knock MacDuff to the floor and subdue him.

Determining that there was an artificial effect suppressing the crew's memories, Dr. Crusher works to quickly restore them. MacDuff is identified as a Satarran , a race which has been at war with the Lysians for decades. Despite their skill with memory suppression, the Satarrans lacked sophisticated weapons technology, and so had plotted to hijack the Enterprise and tilt the war in their favor. Picard apologized on behalf of the Federation for the deaths of the Lysian destroyer's crew. With MacDuff's plan foiled, the Enterprise heads off to its next assignment – although Riker remains uneasy when he encounters Troi and Ro intensely conversing in Ten Forward. Ro insists somewhat facetiously that they have a memory they will both treasure; Troi concludes that such actions tend to result from subconscious desires. When Riker concedes confusion, she smiles and assures him that " if you're still confused tomorrow, you know where my office is ."

Log entries [ ]

  • Captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), 2368

Memorable quotes [ ]

" Data, chess isn't just a game of ploys and gambits; it's a game of intuition. " " Hmm. You are a challenging opponent, Counselor. "

" I don't know who any of you are. " " Nor do I. I don't… I don't even remember who I am. "

" It looks like I'm the pilot. "

(To Picard) " Looks like you're the leader. " (Picard counts his pips .) " Perhaps we should not jump to conclusions. " (Worf points to his baldric ) " I am decorated as well. "

" We're going to search the ship. " " Very well. Proceed. "

(Data pops up from behind the bar's counter.) " Can I get you something? A beverage ? "

" Contact the operations officer to assist you. " " He's in Ten Forward, waiting tables. "

" For all we know, you and I could be married. " " For all we know, you and I could hate each other. "

" You must've been one hell of a bartender. "

" We must attack!!! " " I do not fire on defenseless people. "

" Commander, don't worry about it. As far as I'm concerned, you and I have shared something that we will treasure forever. "

Background information [ ]

Production history [ ].

  • Ronald D. Moore relays pitch to Michael Piller : 12 April 1990 [1]
  • In a memo to Rick Berman , David Livingston approves of pitch: 23 April 1990 [2]
  • Final draft script: 14 November 1991 [3]
  • Filmed: 18 November 1991 – 26 November 1991
  • Second unit inserts filmed: 19 December 1991
  • Premiere airdate: 17 February 1992
  • First UK airdate: 22 March 1995

Story and script [ ]

  • The original pitch involved drafting soldiers by rewriting their memories. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., p. 191)) A similar story later appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode " Nemesis ".
  • The story was one of several amnesia stories first pitched in Season 4 . Two of these were produced (" Future Imperfect " and " Clues "), and this one was held for further development. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., p. 191); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , pp. 237-238)
  • The majority of this episode's teleplay was in fact written by an uncredited Joe Menosky . According to Brannon Braga , the story went through a number of writers before Menosky made it work. ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , pp. 237-238)
  • Rick Berman commented, " It's based on that whole concept of what if? If you have nine people who don't know who or what they are, will they find themselves? Will they find the pecking order? Will the captain become the captain? " ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 238)

Production [ ]

  • "Conundrum" was filmed between Monday 18 November 1991 and Tuesday 26 November 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and Paramount Stage 9 . Second unit inserts were filmed on Thursday 19 December 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and 9.
  • This episode is a bottle show . ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 238)

Sets and props [ ]

  • The Lysian Central Command model was previously used as the Edo God in " Justice ".
  • As a memory-less Ro Laren waits for him in bed, we see that Commander Riker has a horga'hn in his quarters. The horga'hn was first seen in " Captain's Holiday ", when Riker asked Captain Picard to acquire a horga'hn for him while the captain vacationed on Risa .
  • One of the chess pieces at the beginning of the episode bears a resemblance to the Robot B-9 from Lost In Space .

Continuity [ ]

  • As the crew attempts to learn more about their identities from the computer's databanks, a great deal of biographical data of the Enterprise -D crew is presented in the form of computer readouts. See personnel file .
  • The tune Riker plays on his trombone is " The Nearness of You " by Hoagy Carmichael . He had previously performed this with the holographic jazz band in " 11001001 ".
  • This episode marks the third time Picard is seen at the helm of the Enterprise during the series. The other times were in " 11001001 " and " Booby Trap ".

Reception [ ]

  • Michael Piller felt that this episode didn't quite do justice to the original pitch. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., p. 191))
  • Rick Berman commented, " It's a thought provoking episode, I thought. Not one of the greats. " ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 238)
  • Ronald D. Moore , Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor all nominated the Ro Laren / William T. Riker / Deanna Troi triangle as the highlight of the episode. Taylor commented that it " invigorated the relationships and showed another side of Ro in that she plays comedy very nicely. " ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 237-238)
  • However, Braga thought that the mystery around the fake first officer , Kieran MacDuff , didn't work. ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 238)
  • Michelle Forbes enjoyed acting in this episode. " It was fun working with Frakes . It's an interesting problem for a character, because you have a very defined character that leans one way. When you have amnesia you wonder if that brings out a side of you that's always wanted to come out. Would you really be comfortable with that? It's an interesting thing. " ( Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 237)
  • A mission report for this episode, by John Sayers, was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine  issue 20 , pp. 43-46.
  • This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, sharing it in a tie with TNG : " A Matter Of Time ".

Video and DVD releases [ ]

  • Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video ): Volume 57, 11 January 1993
  • UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment ): Volume 5.5, 7 October 2002
  • As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection

Links and references [ ]

Starring [ ].

  • Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
  • Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr. William Riker

Also starring [ ]

  • LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
  • Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
  • Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
  • Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
  • Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data

Guest stars [ ]

  • Erich Anderson as Kieran MacDuff
  • Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren

Co-stars [ ]

  • Liz Vassey as Kristin
  • Erick Weiss as Crewman
  • Majel Barrett as Computer Voice

Uncredited co-stars [ ]

  • Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
  • Lena Banks as operations division ensign
  • Michael Braveheart as Martinez
  • Debbie David as Russell
  • Gerard David, Jr. as operations division ensign
  • Lanier Edwards as command division ensign
  • Gina Gallante as science division officer
  • Melba Gonzalez as command officer
  • Grace Harrell as operations division officer
  • Melanie Hathorn as sciences officer
  • Christie Haydon as command division ensign
  • Gary Hunter as science division officer
  • Kast as command division officer
  • Mark Lentry as civilian
  • Jay Montalvo as operations division officer
  • Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
  • Keith Rayve as civilian
  • Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
  • Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
  • John Tampoya as command division ensign
  • Théyard as science division officer
  • Uchizono as civilian
  • Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
  • Unknown actor as Ten Forward waiter

Stunt doubles [ ]

  • Chris Doyle as stunt double for Erich Anderson ( deleted scene )
  • Rusty McClennon as stunt double for Michael Dorn

Stand-ins [ ]

  • David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
  • Margaret Flores – stand-in for Michelle Forbes
  • Melba Gonzalez – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
  • Mark Lentry – stand-in for Erich Anderson and Brent Spiner
  • Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner , Erich Anderson , and Erick Weiss
  • Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden and Michelle Forbes
  • Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
  • Terri – stand-in for Liz Vassey and Michelle Forbes
  • Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
  • Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Brent Spiner
  • James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn

References [ ]

ability ; Alaska ; analysis ; android ; arm ; armament ; artificial lifeform ; As You Like It ; attack ; attack vessel ; attitude ; authority ; bartender ; basic system directory ; bathing suit ; battleship ; battle stations ; behavior ; bioelectric field ; biographical listing ; boarding party ; brain chemistry ; brain scan ; checkmate ; chief engineer ; chief medical officer ; choice ; Cirrus IV ; Cliffs of Heaven ; cobalt fusion warhead ; coincidence ; command path discontinuity ; commanding officer ; communication channel ; computer ; computer core ; computer record ; computer system ; console ; corridor ; crew manifest ; culture ; cure ; damage ; databank ; database ; death ; debris ; decade ; deck ; diencephalon ; diplomacy ; diplomat ; disruptor ; distance ; distress signal ; doctor ; el-Mitra Exchange ; Emerald Wading Pool ; emotion ; enemy ; energy wave ; engineer ; engineering core ; Epsilon Silar system ; evasive maneuvers (aka evasive action ); executive officer ; Federation ; Federation starships ; feeling ; file ; file wall ; firing range ; flight handling assessment ; flight path ; frequency ; front ; full diagnostic (aka complete diagnostic ); fun ; fusion ; Galaxy -class decks ; gambit ; genocide ; hail ; hand ; hate ; head ; helm ; helm officer ; hesitation ; hippocampus ; history ; holodeck ; Holodeck Program 47-C ; holographic program ; home planet ; horga'hn ; hour ; idea ; impulse drive ; information ; information storage area ; injury ; intercept course ; intuition ; jealousy ; Keats, John ; kilometer ; kilojoule ; king ; kiss ; knowledge ; Kriskov Gambit ; laser cannon ; leader ; leadership ; length ; lifeform ; life support system ; ligament ; living quarters ; locator subroutine ; long-term memory ; Lysia ; Lysians ; Lysian Alliance ; Lysian battleship ; Lysian border ; Lysian Central Command ; Lysian destroyer (aka Lysian warship ); Lysian destroyer crew ; Lysian system ; Lysian territory ; magnetic propulsion ; main engineering ; marriage ; Master of Science ; medial temporal ; medical file ; medical index ; medical record ; medical specialist ; megajoule ; memory ; meter ; military operation ; mission ; mission report ; moral ; mountain climbing ; musician ; navigation ; navigator ; object ; Ode to Psyche ; offline ; onboard communications system ; operations officer ; optical data network ; order ; organization ; panic ; patient ; percent ; personnel file ; phaser ; phaser array ; phaser bank ; photon torpedo ; pilot ; plan ; plasma ; processor ; propulsion ; pulse laser ; question ; race ; radio silence ; record ; red alert ; representative ; Risa ; risk ; Roddenberry, Gene ; rook ; room ; Samarian sunset ; Satarrans ; Satarran starship ; scanning signal ; schematic ; science officer ; scientist ; second officer ; security chief ; senior officer ; sensor range ; sensor system ; sensor sweep ; sentry pod ; sequence initiator ; sequencing program ; shield grid ; ship's counselor ; short-term memory ; shuttlecraft ; skill ; sleep ; snoring ; speed ; Starbase 301 ; Starfleet ; Starfleet Headquarters ; Starfleet records ; state of war ; status report ; Stewart, Patrick ; stranger ; subspace interference pattern ; subspace radio ; subspace signal ; Sumiko IV ; superior ; survey team ; swimming ; swimming pool ; synapse ; table ; tactical analysis ; tactical array ; tactical console ; tactical control (aka tactical system ); tape ; three-dimensional chess ; throat ; torpedo bay ; transporter ; treatment ; trombone ; turbolift ; turbolift system ; vacation ; vessel ; victory ; visual range ; voice interface ; volunteer ; warp drive ; warrior ; weapon ; weapon range ; year

Other references [ ]

Retconned references [ ].

Bajora ; MacDuff, Keiran

External links [ ]

  • " Conundrum " at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • " Conundrum " at Wikipedia
  • "Conundrum" at StarTrek.com
  • " "Conundrum" " at MissionLogPodcast.com , a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
  • "Conundrum" script  at Star Trek Minutiae
  • 2 USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-G)
  • 3 Star Trek: The Next Generation

'Star Trek's' interracial kiss 50 years ago boldly went where none had gone before

Star Trek

WASHINGTON — It was the kiss heard around the galaxy.

Fifty years ago — and only one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared interracial marriage was legal — two of science fiction's most enduring characters, Capt. James T. Kirk and Lt. Nyota Uhura, kissed each other on "Star Trek."

It wasn't romantic. Sadistic, humanlike aliens forced the dashing white captain to lock lips with the beautiful black communications officer. But the kiss between actors William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in "Plato's Stepchildren" would help change attitudes in America about what was allowed to be shown on TV and made an early statement about the coming acceptance of interracial relationships in a United States still struggling with racism and civil rights.

The kiss between Uhura and Kirk "suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal," said Eric Deggans, national television critic for National Public Radio. "The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man. ... In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We're beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send."

"Plato's Stepchildren," which first aired on Nov. 22, 1968, came before Star Trek morphed into a cultural phenomenon. The show's producers, meanwhile, were concerned about one of the main episode elements: Humanlike aliens dressed as ancient Greeks that torture the crew with their telekinetic powers and force the two USS Enterprise crew members to kiss.

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners filmed the kiss between Shatner and Nichols — their lips are mostly obscured by the back of Nichols' head — and wanted to film a second where it happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, "Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories," that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Despite concerns from executives, "Plato's Stepchildren" aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most "fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on Star Trek for one episode," Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Officials at Paramount, the show's producer, "were just simply amazed and people have talked about it ever since," said Nichols.

While inside the show things were buzzing, the episode passed by the general public and the TV industry at that time almost without comment, said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture.

star trek data kiss

NBC OUT 'Star Trek' star George Takei says sci-fi can be 'a trailblazer' for social change

"It neither got the backlash one might have expected nor did it open the doors for lots more shows to do this," Thompson said. "The shot heard around the world started the American Revolution. The kiss heard around the world eventually did ... but not immediately."

This was a world where interracial marriage had just become legal nationwide.

In 1967, the year before "Plato's Stepchildren" aired, the Supreme Court struck down nationwide laws that made marriage illegal between blacks and whites, between whites and Native Americans, Filipinos, Asians and, in some states, "all non-whites

Only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried that year. In 2015, 17 percent of newlyweds — or at least 1 in 6 of newly-married people — were intermarried, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most television — outside of the news — was escapist fare and not willing to deal with the raucous atmosphere in the 1960s, Thompson said.

"It was so hard for television in the 60s to talk about the 1960s," he said. "That kiss and that episode of Star Trek is an example of how every now and again television in that period tried to kick the door open to those kinds of representations."

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator, and his team had more leeway because he was writing about the future and not current life, experts said.

"Setting Star Trek three hundred years in the future allowed (Roddenberry) to focus on the social issues of the 1960s without being direct or obvious," Shatner said in his book "Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man."

A later episode entitled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" highlighted the folly of racism by showing a generations-long battle between two people from the same planet who thought each other to be subhuman — one was black-skinned on the left side and white on the right, while the other was the opposite.

Throughout the ensuing decades, interracial relationships with black and white actors became more prevalent on television, spanning multiple genres. From comedies like "The Jeffersons" and "Happy Endings," to dramas such as "Parenthood," ''Six Feet Under" and "Dynasty," and back to sci-fi with the short-lived "Firefly."

The trend is still not without its detractors. In 2013, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter drew thousands of racist comments online.

Historians have noted that interracial kisses between blacks and whites happened on British television during live plays as early as 1959, and on subsequent soap operas like "Emergency Ward 10."

In the U.S., interethnic kisses happened on "I Love Lucy" between the Cuban Desi Arnaz and the white Lucille Ball in the 1950s and even on Star Trek in 1967 with Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban kissing Madlyn Rhue in the "Space Seed" episode.

Other shows like "Adventures in Paradise" and "I Spy" featured kisses between white male actors and Asian actresses, and Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on a December 1967 episode of her televised special "Movin' with Nancy."

Whether another kiss came first doesn't really matter.

"For whatever reason, that one between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura seems to be the one that is marked as the milestone," Thompson said.

It stands out because it had a profound effect on viewers, Nichols said in 2010.

"The first thing people want to talk about is the first interracial kiss and what it did for them. And they thought of the world differently, they thought of people differently," she said.

ARTS & CULTURE

Fifty years ago, “star trek” aired tv’s first interracial kiss.

For actress Nichelle Nichols, the first black woman to have a continuing co-starring role on TV, it was the beginning of a lifelong career in activism

Matthew Delmont, The Conversation

First interracial kiss on TV.jpg

On Nov. 22, 1968, an episode of “Star Trek” titled “ Plato’s Stepchildren ” broadcast the first interracial kiss on American television.

The episode’s plot is bizarre: Aliens who worship the Greek philosopher Plato use telekinetic powers to force the Enterprise crew to sing, dance and kiss. At one point, the aliens compel Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) to embrace. Each character tries to resist, but eventually Kirk tilts Uhura back and the two kiss as the aliens lasciviously look on.

The smooch is not a romantic one. But in 1968 to show a black woman kissing a white man was a daring move.

The episode aired just one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision struck down state laws against interracial marriage. At the time, Gallup polls showed that fewer than 20 percent of Americans approved of such relationships .

As a historian of civil rights and media, I’ve been fascinated by the woman at the center of this landmark television moment. Casting Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura created possibilities for more creative and socially relevant “Star Trek” storylines.

But just as significant is Nichols’s off-screen activism. She leveraged her role on “Star Trek” to become a recruiter for NASA, where she pushed for change in the space program. Her career arc shows how diverse casting on the screen can have a profound impact in the real world, too.

‘A triumph of modern-day TV’

In 1966, “Star Trek” creator Gene Rodenberry decided to cast Nichelle Nichols to play Lieutenant Uhura, a translator and communications officer from the United States of Africa. In doing so, he made Nichols the first African-American woman to have a continuing co-starring role on television.

The African-American press was quick to heap praise on Nichols’s pioneering role.

The Norfolk Journal and Guide hoped that it would “broaden her race’s foothold on the tube.”

The magazine Ebony featured Nichols on its January 1967 cover and described Uhura as “the first Negro astronaut, a triumph of modern-day TV over modern-day NASA.”

Yet the famous kiss between Uhura and Kirk almost never happened.

After the first season of “Star Trek” concluded in 1967, Nichols considered quitting after being offered a role on Broadway. She had started her career as a singer in New York and always dreamed of returning to the Big Apple.

But at a NAACP fundraiser in Los Angeles, she ran into Martin Luther King Jr.

Nichols would later recount their interaction.

“You must not leave,” King told her . “You have opened a door that must not be allowed to close…you changed the face of television forever…For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.”

King went on to say that he and his family were fans of the show; she was a “hero” to his children.

With King’s encouragement, Nichols stayed on “Star Trek” for the original series’ full three-year run.

Nichols’ controversial kiss took place at the end of the third season. Nichols recalled that NBC executives closely monitored the filming because they were nervous about how Southern television stations and viewers would react.

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After the episode aired, the network did receive an outpouring of letters from viewers – and the majority were positive .

In 1982, Nichols would tell the Baltimore Afro-American that she was amused by the amount of attention the kiss generated, especially because her own heritage was “a blend of races that includes Egyptian, Ethiopian, Moor, Spanish, Welsh, Cherokee Indian and a ‘blond blue-eyed ancestor or two.’”

Space crusader

But Nichols’s legacy would be defined by far more than a kiss.

After NBC canceled Star Trek in 1969, Nichols took minor acting roles on two television series, “ Insight ” and “ The D.A. ” She would also play a madame in the 1974 blaxploitation film “ Truck Turner .”

She also started to dabble in activism and education. In 1975, Nichols established Women in Motion, Inc. and won several government contracts to produce educational programs related to space and science. By 1977, she had been appointed to the board of directors of the National Space Institute , a civil space advocacy organization.

That year she gave a speech at the institute’s annual meeting, “New Opportunities for the Humanization of Space, or Space: What’s in it for Me?” In it, she critiqued the lack of women and minorities in the astronaut corps, challenging NASA to “come down from your ivory tower of intellectual pursuit, because the next Einstein might have a Black face – and she’s female.”

Several of NASA’s top administrators were in the audience. They invited her to lead an astronaut recruitment program for the new space shuttle program. Soon, she packed her bags and began traveling the country, visiting high schools and colleges, speaking with professional organizations and legislators, and appearing on national television programs such as “Good Morning America.”

“The aim was to find qualified people among women and minorities, then to convince them that the opportunity was real and that it also was a duty, because this was historic,” Nichols told the Baltimore Afro-American in 1979. “I really had this sense of purpose about it myself.”

In her 1994 autobiography, “ Beyond Uhura ,” Nichols recalled that in the seven months before the recruitment program began, “NASA had received only 1,600 applications, including fewer than 100 from women and 35 from minority candidates.” But by the end of June 1977, “just four months after we assumed our task, 8,400 applications were in, including 1,649 from women (a 15-fold increase) and an astounding 1,000 from minorities.”

Nichols’s campaign recruited several trailblazing astronauts, including Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Guion Bluford, the first African-American in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space.

Fifty Years Ago,

Relentless advocacy for inclusion

Her advocacy for inclusion and diversity wasn’t limited to the space program.

As one of the first black women in a major television role, Nichols understood the importance of opening doors for minorities and women in entertainment.

Nichols continued to push for African-Americans to have more power in film and television.

“Until we Blacks and minorities become not only the producers, writers and directors, but the buyers and distributors, we’re not going to change anything,” she told Ebony in 1985 . “Until we become industry, until we control media or at least have enough say, we will always be the chauffeurs and tap dancers.”

It’s an issue that, unfortunately, remains relevant today. In February of this year, UCLA’s annual Hollywood Diversity Report found that women and people of color continue to be underrepresented as directors and in studio board rooms. It concluded that “Hollywood studios are leaving money on the table by not developing films and TV shows with more diverse casts.”

Fifty years ago, Nichols’s kiss may have broken an important cultural barrier. But as Nichols well knows, the quest to secure opportunities for women and minorities persists to this day – an effort that requires relentless pressure.

The Conversation's new podcast “ Heat and Light ” features Professor Delmont discussing this story in depth .

Matthew Delmont, Professor of History, Arizona State University

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Screen Rant

Star trek: data's 10 most human relationships.

Star Trek's Data isn't quite human, but his relationships with humans, aliens, and even cats can blur the line between synthetic and sentient.

For many Star Trek fans, their favorite character has and always will be Commander Data, and by a wide margin. There was just something so compelling about a brilliant superhuman that desperately wanted to be like everyone else around him. No matter all the fantastic things he could do, he just wanted to be human. And the best part of that was that, despite his mechanical heart, he was one of the most human characters on the show.

RELATED: Star Trek TNG: 5 Villains Fans Love To Hate (And 5 They Just Hate)

What helped make him so endearing were the relationships he built with the people around him. He built such wide-eyed bonds with everyone he met, but there were a few that stood above the others.

Noonien Soong

Data has a complicated relationship with his father. That's part of the humanity of Data's bond with Soong. While his other brothers have a much more unpleasant time with their parent, Data is the favorite son. Soong has always had high expectations and hopes for Data, because he wanted to eventually give him the emotion chip that will make him the most human android alive.

However, even though Data views his father favorably, Soong's cryptic nature and mistreatment of his brother still causes Data distress. Even bad, confusing dreams, eventually. That does only make his relationship with his father all the more human, though.

Lore and B4

Despite being an android, Data desperately wants to be close with his brothers. It's a unique facet of humanity that he still can connect with. Between B4's broken-down nature and Lore's evil intentions, though, that brotherly love doesn't go all that well for him.

Data still cares deeply for them, particularly Lore. Lore is a connection to his origins and is apart of who he is. He struggles to assume the worst of someone who looks and feels like they belong with him. That never made Lore a good person but Data's endless love for him only makes him more human.

While Data keeps on talking about how he doesn't feel emotion, his bond with his cat, Spot, is special and very much like any human with their pet. He cares for her, feeds her, pets her exactly how she likes it. Beyond that, he also makes special gifts for her and writes her poetry. If anything, he's just as (if not more) preoccupied with his cat as the average cat owner. Data's devotion to the fluffy feline is so heartwarming.

With Spot by his side, Data proves he isn't just performing humanism around other humans. He's like that even when they're not around, for his adorable Spot.

Captain Picard

Even though Data was a member of Starfleet for decades, Captain Picard was the first person to treat him like a living being and a member of his crew. Under Picard, Data learned to make friends, play games, even feel a little more than he ever thought he could. Whether he felt the same depths of emotion didn't matter; there was clearly some real, tangible humanity to him.

RELATED: Star Trek: 5 Fan Theories About Data That Make Too Much Sense (And 5 That Don't)

Picard helped bring that out in him. In a way, Picard was the family that Soong never was to him. Not only did Data sacrifice himself for Picard in the end, but he trusted Picard with his future daughters.

After losing Tasha, Data had to grapple with his unique brand of love for Tasha. He found comfort in the concept of getting "used" to people and finding comfort in that. In Ishara, Data was finally able to digest and express all the things he felt about Tasha that he never got to tell her about.

Sure, Ishara and Data were just leaning on each other to fill the hole that Tasha left in their lives. Their kiss was less about each other and more about missing her. That's a pretty human response to grief, though.

The Borg Queen

This one is a weird one, but it's still important. With the Borg Queen, Data experienced temptation and desire for the first time. Those are such inherently human things that they overwhelmed him. While she didn't actually have any sensual interest in him, it did prove to be a big moment of growth in his emotional programming.

Luckily, Data eventually chose his family on the Enterprise over her feminine wiles. Everyone can agree that was the right choice to make in that situation.

Jenna DeSora

As one of Data's closest friends, Jenna eventually grew to have romantic feelings for Data. However, her idea of romance was much more intuitive than she should've expected out of an android who never experienced it before.

Having a friendship grow into a romance was a good experience for Data, though. He learned how to try to navigate such a complicated situation. One of the best parts, even though it was sad, was seeing Data deal with a fundamental incompatibility. Sure, he and Jenna didn't work great together, but friends don't always date well. At least their friendship survived.

As Data's first offspring, his bond with Lal was very special . After years of other people telling him who he was, what his bonds to the world were like, what family was like, Lal was his first choice of his own. Instead of being handed a brother or father, he created her of his own free will.

RELATED: Star Trek: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Data's  First Daughter, Lal

Even though Lal's time on the Enterprise was short, she showed Data the potential of his own legacy and his own capacity to care for another human. And not just emotional care, but have someone rely on him. It was a life-changing experience and it affected Data deeply. It's also (probably) what led to the eventual creation of Dahj and Soji.

During "The Naked Now," Data had a... unique encounter with Tasha Yar. Hopped up on the intoxicated infection, Yar became obsessed with Deanna Troi's more slinky clothes and explored how "fully functional" Data was.

Even though Tasha didn't seem all that interested talking about what happened between them, it did create a bond. They were always close afterward and cared deeply for each other since. Maybe, with time, something more than just an awkward sexual encounter could've happened. Unfortunately, Tasha passed away and instead Data coped with his first serious brush with grief over a close friend.

Geordi La Forge

When it comes to humans, Data's most complex and in-depth relationship was with his engineer best friend, Geordi La Forge . They spent years working together on various mechanical systems on the ship, and bonded over it. Geordi even played a big part in caring for Data's own tech.

They grew from friendly colleagues to best friends, the Watson to Data's Holmes. While they didn't expect it, their relationship is arguably the most important one in either of their lives. They depended on each other for companionship and comfort. Losing Data was probably one of the hardest things Geordi ever experienced. He may have been an android, but with Geordi, Data was very, very human.

NEXT: Star Trek: 5 Of Data's Most Human Moments (And 5 Of His Least)

  • Main content

The story behind 'TV's first interracial kiss' between 'Star Trek's' Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner

  • 'Star Trek' made TV history when it aired an episode where Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura kissed on screen.
  • The moment is widely regarded as one of American TV's first interracial kisses.
  • Show executives were worried the kiss would anger Southern TV stations and tried to change the script.

Insider Today

When Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura kissed on screen in 1968, it made TV history.

The kiss between the "Star Trek" characters, played by William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, is widely regarded as one of American TV's first interracial kisses.

"Star Trek" has left a lauded legacy for featuring a multiracial crew working together to explore space. Nichols, considered a trailblazer for Black actors, was one of the first Black women to star in a major television series. She died on July 30 at 89 years old.

Concerns over the interracial kiss

The episode aired at a time when America was still grappling with racism and civil rights. Just one year prior, the Supreme Court made a landmark civil rights decision in Loving v. Virginia, a case that now protects interracial marriage under the 14th amendment.

Worried the kiss would anger TV stations in the Deep South, NBC executives tried to have Spock, who is half-Vulcan — an extraterrestrial humanoid species in the series — kiss Uhura instead. Shatner insisted they stick with the original script, according to critical race scholar and filmmaker Daniel Bernardi, who wrote the book "Star Trek and History."

Showrunners ended up filming two versions of the scene: one with an on-screen kiss, and one that took place off-screen. But Nichols and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines so the original shot would be used, Nichols said in her autobiography, " Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories ."

"The only alternative was to cut out the scene altogether, but that was impossible to do without ruining the entire episode. Finally, the guys in charge relented: 'To hell with it. Let's go with the kiss.' I guess they figured we were going to be canceled in a few months anyway. And so the kiss stayed," Nichols wrote.

A lasting legacy

Despite initial concerns, the episode aired without huge backlash, and has since been ranked by several media outlets as one of the top moments in "Star Trek."

Even Nichols wrote in her book that "for me, the most memorable episode of our last season was 'Plato's Stepchildren,'" as the episode was titled.

The "Star Trek" series has been regaled — and sometimes criticized — for shattering taboos and crossing boundaries of what's deemed acceptable. In a 1966 episode, Lieutenant Uhura and Christine Chapel, played by white actress Majel Barrett, shared a friendly kiss.

More recently in 2016,  "Star Trek" revealed that Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, is openly gay.

"The whole show was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but to take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms," Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, said .

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star trek data kiss

50 years after Star Trek’s ‘kiss’, how have attitudes towards interethnic marriage changed?

star trek data kiss

Senior Lecturer In Psychology, Brunel University London

Disclosure statement

Stanley Gaines does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Brunel University London provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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In the long-running sci-fi serial Star Trek, the mission of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise is to “ boldly go where no one has gone before ”. This was most often apparent in the crew’s discovery of new worlds and new beings in the course of the drama.

But the series pushed another new boundary 50 years ago when, having been subjected to “sadistic” mind control by aliens, Captain James Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols) were compelled to passionately kiss each other . With Shatner a Canadian-born actor of European descent and Nichols an American-born actress of African descent, this became one of the earliest, and by far the most watched, scripted interracial kiss on US television. While the kiss is tame by today’s standards, in 1968 it was certainly somewhere few men or women in US television had gone before.

Read more: An Interracial Kiss – on Another Planet

The kiss occurred at a time when only a minuscule proportion of couples within the US married across racial or other ethnic boundaries. Estimates vary, but according to a 2017 Pew Research Centre report fewer than 3% of US marriages were interethnic in 1968 – just one year after the US Supreme Court had struck down the existing anti-miscegenation state laws against mixed relationships as unconstitutional in the Loving vs Virgina case . By contrast, in 2015 (the most recent year for which detailed statistics are available) around 10% of US marriages were interethnic, fuelled largely by newlyweds: 17% of all new US marriages were mixed marriages.

The change in the proportion of interethnic marriages in the US during the past 50 years is striking, although this still implies that around 90% of individuals continue to marry within their ethnic group. This is driven mostly by the tendency of non-Hispanic, European-descent individuals to marry among their own.

Read more: TV's first interracial kiss launched a lifelong career in activism

In the Pew Research Centre report , authors Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown credit the rise in interethnic marriage with a corresponding change in public attitudes across time. For example, as recently as 1990, a staggering 63% of those not of African descent expressed disapproval towards the idea of a family members’ marriage to someone of African descent. By 2016, that rate had tumbled to 14%.

For comparison, this rate of disapproval was substantially higher than the same perspective from the other side, that of non-white people disapproving of their family members marrying someone of a white background, which stood at 4%. Among those of Asian or Hispanic descent, the same disapproving view of intermarriage stood at around 9%.

So if the rise in interethnic marriage has led to a decrease in negativity among public attitudes toward interethnic marriage over the last two generations, can we also link this increasing interethnicity to increasingly positive attitudes on that topic? A recent addition to attitude surveys is the question of whether interethnic marriage is good for US society, and according to the report the news seems favourable. The proportion of respondents saying that interethnic marriage is a good thing for US society rose from 24% in 2010 to 39% in 2017. For comparison, around 9% said that interethnic marriage was bad for US society, and 52% said that interethnic marriage made no difference.

I believe that the authors were correct to identify the rise of interethnic marriage as having contributed to a decrease in negative attitudes, and increase in positive attitudes. But I also believe that, as Gordon Allport predicted in The Nature of Prejudice , in 1954, it is necessary for government officials to lead the way in their words and deeds if interethnic couples are to be able to marry safely in the US. Civil rights-era shows such as Star Trek in 1968, alongside movies such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner in 1967, both mirrored and helped contribute to changing public attitudes in their own way.

Has the “Trump effect” made a difference to attitudes? Based partly on trends I noticed while writing Identity and Interethnic Marriage in the United States, I suspect that some racists have felt increasingly emboldened in stating their opposition to interethnic marriage, especially towards couples comprised of black men and white women. Yet among the 70% of Americans who are not Trump supporters, the rise in interethnic marriage will not be a subject of major concern (and, in fact, the rate will continue to rise).

There is no comparable data to that from the Pew Research Centre that covers the UK, but as the political fallout over Brexit continues I would speculate that the UK has its own issues to address. For example, what will be the fate of marriages between EU residents and UK citizens once Brexit is fully implemented? Nevertheless, I would suppose that interethnic marriages in the UK will continue to rise as young people (in particular) increasingly marry without limiting themselves to “traditional” ethnic boundaries.

In any event, on either side of the Atlantic, 50 years and two generations on from “the kiss”, we can see how far we have progressed – and how far we still have to go.

  • US politics
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  • Race relations
  • Racial diversity
  • Interracial marriage

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ENTERTAINMENT

The story behind TV’s first iconic interracial kiss on ‘Star Trek’ with Nichelle Nichols

Aug 4, 2022, 4:48 PM | Updated: 4:50 pm

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04:  Actress Nichelle Nichols arrives at the premiere of Neon's "Colossal" ...

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: Actress Nichelle Nichols arrives at the premiere of Neon's "Colossal" at the Vista Theatre on April 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

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BY MATTHEW DELMONT DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

NOTE: The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.

(THE CONVERSATION) On a 1968 episode of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, playing Lt. Uhura, locked lips with William Shatner’s Capt. Kirk in what’s widely thought to be first kiss between a Black woman and white man on American television.

The episode’s plot is bizarre: Aliens who worship the Greek philosopher Plato use telekinetic powers to force the Enterprise crew to sing, dance and kiss. At one point, the aliens compel Lt. Uhura and Capt. Kirk to embrace. Each character tries to resist, but eventually Kirk tilts Uhura back and the two kiss as the aliens lasciviously look on.

We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actor, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible. She partnered with us to recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts, and inspired generations to reach for the stars. pic.twitter.com/pmQaKDb5zw — NASA (@NASA) July 31, 2022

The smooch is not a romantic one. But in 1968 to show a Black woman kissing a white man was a daring move. The episode aired just one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision struck down state laws against interracial marriage. At the time, Gallup polls showed that fewer than 20% of Americans approved of such relationships.

As a historian of civil rights and media, I’ve been fascinated by the woman at the center of this landmark television moment. Casting Nichols, who died on July 30, 2022, created possibilities for more creative and socially relevant “Star Trek” storylines.

But just as significant is Nichols’ off-screen activism. She leveraged her role on “Star Trek” to become a recruiter for NASA, where she pushed for change in the space program. Her career arc shows how diverse casting on the screen can have a profound impact in the real world, too.

‘A triumph of modern-day TV’

In 1966, “Star Trek” creator Gene Rodenberry decided to cast Nichols to play Lt. Uhura, a translator and communications officer from the United States of Africa. In doing so, he made Nichols the first Black woman to have a continuing co-starring role on television.

Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/KhUf4YM6pX — Lynda Carter (@RealLyndaCarter) July 31, 2022

The Black press was quick to heap praise on Nichols’ pioneering role.

The Norfolk Journal and Guide hoped that it would “broaden her race’s foothold on the tube.”

The magazine Ebony featured Nichols on its January 1967 cover and described Uhura as “the first Negro astronaut, a triumph of modern-day TV over modern-day NASA.”

Yet the famous kiss between Uhura and Kirk almost never happened.

After the first season of “Star Trek” concluded in 1967, Nichols considered quitting after being offered a role on Broadway. She had started her career as a singer in New York and always dreamed of returning to the Big Apple.

But at an NAACP fundraiser in Los Angeles, she ran into Martin Luther King Jr.

Nichols would later recount their interaction.

I have been truly moved by the tributes and messages honoring the life and work of Nichelle Nichols, our very own Lieutenant and later Commander Uhura on Star Trek. Although our original series ran only three seasons, we became bonded /1 pic.twitter.com/v1pZtQBU3a — George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 2, 2022

“You must not leave,” King told her. “You have opened a door that must not be allowed to close … you changed the face of television forever. … For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.”

King went on to say that he and his family were fans of the show; she was a “hero” to his children.

With King’s encouragement, Nichols stayed on “Star Trek” for the original series’ full three-year run.

Nichols’ controversial kiss took place at the end of the third season. Nichols recalled that NBC executives closely monitored the filming because they were nervous about how Southern television stations and viewers would react.

After the episode aired, the network did receive an outpouring of letters from viewers – and the majority were positive.

In 1982, Nichols would tell the Baltimore Afro-American that she was amused by the amount of attention the kiss generated, especially because her own heritage was “a blend of races that includes Egyptian, Ethiopian, Moor, Spanish, Welsh, Cherokee Indian and a ‘blond blue-eyed ancestor or two.'”

Space crusader

But Nichols’ legacy would be defined by far more than a kiss.

After NBC canceled Star Trek in 1969, Nichols took minor acting roles on two television series, “Insight” and “The D.A.” She would also play a madam in the 1974 blaxploitation film “Truck Turner.”

"If you can see it, you can be it," the saying goes. Nichelle Nichols gave millions of people the opportunity to see themselves on the frontiers of science and exploration, boldly expanding human understanding. She inspired so many of us to reach for the stars. What a legacy. pic.twitter.com/Ly2IpmxWiJ — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 1, 2022

She also started to dabble in activism and education. In 1975, Nichols established Women in Motion Inc. and won several government contracts to produce educational programs related to space and science. By 1977, she had been appointed to the board of directors of the National Space Institute, a civil space advocacy organization.

That year she gave a speech at the institute’s annual meeting. In it, she critiqued the lack of women and minorities in the astronaut corps, challenging NASA to “come down from your ivory tower of intellectual pursuit, because the next Einstein might have a Black face – and she’s female.”

Several of NASA’s top administrators were in the audience. They invited her to lead an astronaut recruitment program for the new space shuttle program.

Soon, she packed her bags and began traveling the country, visiting high schools and colleges, speaking with professional organizations and legislators, and appearing on national television programs such as “Good Morning America.”

From the Enterprise bridge to the Oval Office — Nichelle Nichols visits President Barack Obama in February 2012. #StarTrek #NichelleNichols pic.twitter.com/pqVYWYVl8w — TrekCore.com 🖖 (@TrekCore) July 31, 2022

“The aim was to find qualified people among women and minorities, then to convince them that the opportunity was real and that it also was a duty, because this was historic,” Nichols told the Baltimore Afro-American in 1979. “I really had this sense of purpose about it myself.”

In her 1994 autobiography, “Beyond Uhura,” Nichols recalled that in the seven months before the recruitment program began, “NASA had received only 1,600 applications, including fewer than 100 from women and 35 from minority candidates.” But by the end of June 1977, “just four months after we assumed our task, 8,400 applications were in, including 1,649 from women (a fifteen-fold increase) and an astounding 1,000 from minorities.”

Nichols’ campaign recruited several trailblazing astronauts, including Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Guion Bluford, the first African American in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space.

Relentless advocacy for inclusion

Her advocacy for inclusion and diversity wasn’t limited to the space program.

As one of the first Black women in a major television role, Nichols understood the importance of opening doors for minorities and women in entertainment. Nichols continued to push for African Americans to have more power in film and television.

Our Uhura is far beyond the stars now. In January 1967, Ebony declared Nichelle Nichols the first Negro astronaut, a triumph of modern day television over modern day NASA. We are here because you were there. May our Queen Rest in Power and Forever Glory 🖖🏽 1932-2022 pic.twitter.com/c8ukMlRdS0 — Prof. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Child of Uhura (@IBJIYONGI) July 31, 2022

“Until we Blacks and minorities become not only the producers, writers and directors, but the buyers and distributors, we’re not going to change anything,” she told Ebony in 1985. “Until we become industry, until we control media or at least have enough say, we will always be the chauffeurs and tap dancers.”

This woman was a pioneer. Her significance not only to the world of science fiction but to television as a whole cannot be overstated. Not to mention the mountain of charm and magnetism she brought to the screen. Nichelle Nichols will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/o7KPZNoUiL — Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) August 1, 2022

This story has been updated from the original version published on April 15, 2021. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/the-story-behind-star-trek-actress-nichelle-nichols-iconic-interracial-kiss-188048.

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Interracial ‘Star Trek' Kiss 50 Years Ago Heralded Change

Nov. 22 marked the 50th anniversary of "star treks" interracial kiss between actors william shatner and nichelle nichols, by jesse j. holland • published november 28, 2018 • updated on november 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm.

It was the kiss heard around the galaxy.

Fifty years ago — and only one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared interracial marriage was legal — two of science fiction's most enduring characters, Captain James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, kissed each other on "Star Trek."

It wasn't romantic. Sadistic, humanlike aliens forced the dashing white captain to lock lips with the beautiful black communications officer. But the kiss between actors William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in "Plato's Stepchildren" would help change attitudes in America about what was allowed to be shown on TV and made an early statement about the coming acceptance of interracial relationships in a United States still struggling with racism and civil rights.

The kiss between Uhura and Kirk "suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal," said Eric Deggans, national television critic for National Public Radio. "The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man ... In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We're beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send."

"Plato's Stepchildren," which first aired on Nov. 22, 1968, came before Star Trek morphed into a cultural phenomenon. The show's producers, meanwhile, were concerned about one of the main episode elements: Humanlike aliens dressed as ancient Greeks that torture the crew with their telekinetic powers and force the two USS Enterprise crew members to kiss.

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners filmed the kiss between Shatner and Nichols — their lips are mostly obscured by the back of Nichols' head — and wanted to film a second where it happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, "Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories," that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Despite concerns from executives, "Plato's Stepchildren" aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most "fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on Star Trek for one episode," Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.

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Officials at Paramount, the show's producer, "were just simply amazed and people have talked about it ever since," said Nichols.

While inside the show things were buzzing, the episode passed by the general public and the TV industry at that time almost without comment, said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture.

"It neither got the backlash one might have expected nor did it open the doors for lots more shows to do this," Thompson said. "The shot heard around the world started the American Revolution. The kiss heard around the world eventually did ... but not immediately."

This was a world where interracial marriage had just become legal nationwide.

In 1967, the year before "Plato's Stepchildren" aired, the Supreme Court struck down nationwide laws that made marriage illegal between blacks and whites, between whites and Native Americans, Filipinos, Asians and, in some states, "all non-whites."

Only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried that year. In 2015, 17 percent of newlyweds — or at least 1 in 6 of newly-married people — were intermarried, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most television — outside of the news — was escapist fare and not willing to deal with the raucous atmosphere in the 1960s, Thompson said.

"It was so hard for television in the 60s to talk about the 1960s," he said. "That kiss and that episode of Star Trek is an example of how every now and again television in that period tried to kick the door open to those kinds of representations."

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator, and his team had more leeway because he was writing about the future and not current life, experts said.

"Setting Star Trek three hundred years in the future allowed (Roddenberry) to focus on the social issues of the 1960s without being direct or obvious," Shatner said in his book "Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man."

A later episode entitled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" highlighted the folly of racism by showing a generations-long battle between two people from the same planet who thought each other to be subhuman - one was black-skinned on the left side and white on the right, while the other was the opposite.

Throughout the ensuing decades, interracial relationships with black and white actors became more prevalent on television, spanning multiple genres. From comedies like "The Jeffersons" and "Happy Endings," to dramas such as "Parenthood," ''Six Feet Under" and "Dynasty," and back to sci-fi with the short-lived "Firefly."

The trend is still not without its detractors. In 2013, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter drew thousands of racist comments online.

Historians have noted that interracial kisses between blacks and whites happened on British television during live plays as early as 1959, and on subsequent soap operas like "Emergency Ward 10."

In the U.S., interethnic kisses happened on "I Love Lucy" between the Cuban Desi Arnaz and the white Lucille Ball in the 1950s and even on Star Trek in 1967 with Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban kissing Madlyn Rhue in the "Space Seed" episode.

Other shows like "Adventures in Paradise" and "I Spy" featured kisses between white male actors and Asian actresses, and Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on a December 1967 episode of her televised special "Movin' with Nancy."

Whether another kiss came first doesn't really matter.

"For whatever reason, that one between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura seems to be the one that is marked as the milestone," Thompson said.

It stands out because it had a profound effect on viewers, Nichols said in 2010.

"The first thing people want to talk about is the first interracial kiss and what it did for them. And they thought of the world differently, they thought of people differently," she said.

Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. Contact him at [email protected], on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland .

This article tagged under:

star trek data kiss

William Shatner's Quick Thinking Saved Star Trek's Interracial Kiss Milestone

Star Trek's Kirk and Uhura shared the first high-profile interracial kiss on American TV, but only because William Shatner was particularly crafty.

Star Trek: The Original Series is known for the interracial kiss shared between Captain James T. Kirk and Nyota Uhura. While that moment was not technically the first interracial kiss on TV -- or even on Star Trek -- it remains an important milestone in TV history because of how prominent it was. Yet, if not for William Shatner's quick thinking on the day of filming, it would never have happened.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was trying to be subversive while staying true to his characters. During Season 3, the series thus included a scenario in which aliens forced Kirk and Uhura to kiss as part of a performance. Yet according to actor Nichelle Nichols' interview with the Television Academy , director David Alexander was very against the idea. Despite the progressive intent behind her casting, Nichols still had to face indignities on set. Leonard Nimoy created the Vulcan neck pinch because he believed violence would be out-of-character for Spock. When Nichols would raise similar complaints, directors would argue with her. Eventually they'd call Roddenberry, who would always endorse Nichols' view of Uhura. However, when it came to Star Trek 's infamous interracial kiss, she didn't have to say a word.

RELATED: Geordi La Forge Wouldn't Exist Without Nichelle Nichols' Uhura

Nichelle Nichols Was Ignored On Star Trek's Set

The kiss was scheduled at the end of the last day of shooting for the Star Trek Season 3 episode "Plato's Stepchildren." But leading up to the scene, Alexander called "cut." He then approached William Shatner and spoke to him in hushed tones. Nichols knew he was talking to Shatner about the kiss, because her co-star would reply to Alexander in his normal, ample volume. Shatner apparently said something like, "Yes, I kissed her. Isn't that what the scene is about?" Nichols excused herself to her trailer, telling them to let her know when they "figured out" what to shoot. It was another one of those indignities she was tired of dealing with.

As she left, Nichols recalled she noticed two men in nice suits wearing dark glasses. Apparently, someone had told NBC about the scene and network representatives had shown up. It's possible Alexander was merely acting on orders given to him by the network, but nonetheless Nichols felt disrespected. Eventually Roddenberry arrived on set -- and asked Nichols what she wanted to do. "I don't care, Gene," she replied, "whatever you want to do." She did say she thought it was a "significant" moment for the story and the character, but it wasn't her call.

Alexander tried to assure Nichols that the situation wasn't personal, but she replied that it had "everything to do with" her. And Roddenberry had a unique deal that gave him the final say on what went into Star Trek . When Alexander informed Roddenberry the decision was his, Nichols said he replied, "Yes. I know." Knowing the network wanted a version of the scene without the kiss, he told Alexander to "shoot it both ways" -- one take in which Kirk kissed Uhura, and another take in which the kiss was just implied. What happened next involved some further ingenuity from Shatner.

RELATED: Paul Wesley's James T. Kirk Is More Chris Pine Than Shatner

William Shatner Used His Star Trek Status to Save the Kiss

The cast of Star Trek: The Original Series has not been shy about discussing how working with William Shatner could be difficult . However, at least on that day, he was the only one on set who had Nichelle Nichols' back. Leonard Nimoy supported Star Trek actors of color because, as Spock would say, racism is illogical. Case in point: all of the aforementioned hemming and hawing over an innocuous kiss cost NBC and the studio money because it drove the work day into overtime. Since makeup would need to be reapplied after the kiss, Shatner suggested they try the kiss version first. Alexander agreed.

After they filmed the first take, Shatner told Alexander that he felt Kirk and Uhura should have resisted the kiss more. He was reportedly trying to keep the mood light, joking with Nichols and "being funny." Shatner convinced the director to film the kiss several more times. Each time, Nichols said, he continued to tease her about how the scene was the only way she'd let him kiss her. He was the only person on set, other than when Roddenberry was there briefly, to care at all about how she felt.

Shatner also ate up so much time with retakes that Alexander only had six minutes to set up and film the take without the kiss. By this point, Nichols found the scene "corny," but she went through it again. Shatner turned her towards the camera and dipped her down out of frame -- but as he did, he looked straight down the barrel of the camera and crossed his eyes. Nichols told the Television Academy that only the camera operator saw, silently laughing behind it. The next day, Alexander and NBC executives saw the take, and realized they had no choice but to air the episode with this kiss or nothing at all. A portion of Star Trek and TV history was kept off the cutting room floor because Shatner came up with a very creative workaround.

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Star Trek's interracial kiss 50 years ago heralded change

This combination photo shows actor William Shatner on the set of ABC's "Boston Legal" in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2004, left, and actress Nichelle Nichols attending an all-star tribute concert for jazz icon Herbie Hancock in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2007.

This combination photo shows actor William Shatner on the set of ABC's "Boston Legal" in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2004, left, and actress Nichelle Nichols attending an all-star tribute concert for jazz icon Herbie Hancock in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2007. (AP)

WASHINGTON — It was the kiss heard around the galaxy.

Fifty years ago — and only one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared interracial marriage was legal — two of science fiction's most enduring characters, Captain James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, kissed each other on "Star Trek."

It wasn't romantic. Sadistic, humanlike aliens forced the dashing white captain to lock lips with the beautiful black communications officer. But the kiss between actors William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in "Plato's Stepchildren" would help change attitudes in America about what was allowed to be shown on TV and made an early statement about the coming acceptance of interracial relationships in a United States still struggling with racism and civil rights.

The kiss between Uhura and Kirk "suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal," said Eric Deggans, national television critic for National Public Radio. "The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man ... In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We're beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send."

"Plato's Stepchildren," which first aired on Nov. 22, 1968, came before Star Trek morphed into a cultural phenomenon. The show's producers, meanwhile, were concerned about one of the main episode elements: Humanlike aliens dressed as ancient Greeks that torture the crew with their telekinetic powers and force the two USS Enterprise crew members to kiss.

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners filmed the kiss between Shatner and Nichols — their lips are mostly obscured by the back of Nichols' head — and wanted to film a second where it happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, "Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories," that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Despite concerns from executives, "Plato's Stepchildren" aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most "fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on Star Trek for one episode," Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Officials at Paramount, the show's producer, "were just simply amazed and people have talked about it ever since," said Nichols.

While inside the show things were buzzing, the episode passed by the general public and the TV industry at that time almost without comment, said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture.

"It neither got the backlash one might have expected nor did it open the doors for lots more shows to do this," Thompson said. "The shot heard around the world started the American Revolution. The kiss heard around the world eventually did ... but not immediately."

This was a world where interracial marriage had just become legal nationwide.

In 1967, the year before "Plato's Stepchildren" aired, the Supreme Court struck down nationwide laws that made marriage illegal between blacks and whites, between whites and Native Americans, Filipinos, Asians and, in some states, "all non-whites

Only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried that year. In 2015, 17 percent of newlyweds — or at least 1 in 6 of newly-married people — were intermarried, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most television — outside of the news — was escapist fare and not willing to deal with the raucous atmosphere in the 1960s, Thompson said.

"It was so hard for television in the 60s to talk about the 1960s," he said. "That kiss and that episode of Star Trek is an example of how every now and again television in that period tried to kick the door open to those kinds of representations."

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator, and his team had more leeway because he was writing about the future and not current life, experts said.

"Setting Star Trek three hundred years in the future allowed (Roddenberry) to focus on the social issues of the 1960s without being direct or obvious," Shatner said in his book "Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man."

A later episode entitled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" highlighted the folly of racism by showing a generations-long battle between two people from the same planet who thought each other to be subhuman - one was black-skinned on the left side and white on the right, while the other was the opposite.

Throughout the ensuing decades, interracial relationships with black and white actors became more prevalent on television, spanning multiple genres. From comedies like "The Jeffersons" and "Happy Endings," to dramas such as "Parenthood," ''Six Feet Under" and "Dynasty," and back to sci-fi with the short-lived "Firefly."

The trend is still not without its detractors. In 2013, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter drew thousands of racist comments online.

Historians have noted that interracial kisses between blacks and whites happened on British television during live plays as early as 1959, and on subsequent soap operas like "Emergency Ward 10."

In the U.S., interethnic kisses happened on "I Love Lucy" between the Cuban Desi Arnaz and the white Lucille Ball in the 1950s and even on Star Trek in 1967 with Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban kissing Madlyn Rhue in the "Space Seed" episode.

Other shows like "Adventures in Paradise" and "I Spy" featured kisses between white male actors and Asian actresses, and Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on a December 1967 episode of her televised special "Movin' with Nancy."

Whether another kiss came first doesn't really matter.

"For whatever reason, that one between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura seems to be the one that is marked as the milestone," Thompson said.

It stands out because it had a profound effect on viewers, Nichols said in 2010.

"The first thing people want to talk about is the first interracial kiss and what it did for them. And they thought of the world differently, they thought of people differently," she said.

[  MORE COVERAGE: 50 years later, Nichelle Nichols' famous kiss with Captain Kirk endures  ]

[  Patrick Stewart to return as Capt. Picard in new 'Star Trek' series for CBS All Access  ]

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This 'Star Trek' Kiss Was Iconic — But Not For The Reason You've Heard

"Star Trek" kiss scene

The "Star Trek" kiss scene between Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura turns 50 this year.

Would you believe this very dramatic, rather awkwardly staged kiss from "Star Trek" is one of the most notable kisses in television history? 

Because it is, and as of this Thanksgiving, it's aged more than half a century. ["Let's get on with it."]

So, why is this scene so special? 

Critics and historians like to say it's the first interracial kiss ever aired on television, and that label is one of the reasons the scene is revered so much.

Unfortunately, it's not accurate. 

Six years before  Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura canoodled on television, the British teleplay "You In Your Small Corner" featured a kiss between Jamaican actor  Lloyd Reckord  and Scottish actress  Elizabeth MacLennan . 

More than a decade before that, American actress Lucille Ball and Cuban-American actor Desi Arnaz were frequently smooching on " I Love Lucy ." Though the couple's on-screen and real-life marriage is sometimes argued to be  more "bicultural"  than "biracial," the portrayal of their relationship was still  pretty groundbreaking  for the entertainment industry. 

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Films like "Crazy Rich Asians," Love, Simon" and "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" are popularizing romantic comedies again.

We could go on and  list more  of the interracial kisses that happened on TV before Kirk and Uhura's, but we've made our point. "Star Trek" wasn't the first — but that doesn't make it any less important. 

The episode, titled "Plato's Stepchildren," aired  a year after  the U.S. Supreme Court decided on  Loving v. Virginia . That ruling annulled state laws against interracial marriages during a time when they weren't widely accepted. 

"Star Trek," one of the most progressive shows at the time, was one of the programs that helped normalize it. But even then, there was some doubt about whether American audiences would react positively to Kirk and Uhura's kiss. 

Because of that,  two versions  of the scene were actually filmed: one with the kiss and another with an embrace. 

The only reason the kiss was used was because actor William Shatner deliberately crossed his eyes in the alternative shot — rendering that  footage unusable  and leaving audiences with this iconic moment. 

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Star Trek’s interracial kiss 50 years ago heralded change

star trek data kiss

This combination photo shows actor William Shatner on the set of ABC’s “Boston Legal” in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2004, left, and actress Nichelle Nichols attending an all-star tribute concert for jazz icon Herbie Hancock in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2007. Fifty years ago, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared interracial marriage was legal, two of science fiction’s most enduring characters, Captain James T. Kirk, played by Shatner and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, played by Nichols, kissed each other on “Star Trek.” (AP Photo)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — It was the kiss heard around the galaxy.

Fifty years ago — and only one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared interracial marriage was legal — two of science fiction’s most enduring characters, Captain James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, kissed each other on “Star Trek.”

It wasn’t romantic. Sadistic, humanlike aliens forced the dashing white captain to lock lips with the beautiful black communications officer. But the kiss between actors William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in “Plato’s Stepchildren” would help change attitudes in America about what was allowed to be shown on TV and made an early statement about the coming acceptance of interracial relationships in a United States still struggling with racism and civil rights.

The kiss between Uhura and Kirk “suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal,” said Eric Deggans, national television critic for National Public Radio. “The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man ... In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We’re beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send.”

“Plato’s Stepchildren,” which first aired on Nov. 22, 1968, came before Star Trek morphed into a cultural phenomenon. The show’s producers, meanwhile, were concerned about one of the main episode elements: Humanlike aliens dressed as ancient Greeks that torture the crew with their telekinetic powers and force the two USS Enterprise crew members to kiss.

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners filmed the kiss between Shatner and Nichols — their lips are mostly obscured by the back of Nichols’ head — and wanted to film a second where it happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories,” that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Despite concerns from executives, “Plato’s Stepchildren” aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most “fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on Star Trek for one episode,” Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Officials at Paramount, the show’s producer, “were just simply amazed and people have talked about it ever since,” said Nichols.

While inside the show things were buzzing, the episode passed by the general public and the TV industry at that time almost without comment, said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture.

“It neither got the backlash one might have expected nor did it open the doors for lots more shows to do this,” Thompson said. “The shot heard around the world started the American Revolution. The kiss heard around the world eventually did ... but not immediately.”

This was a world where interracial marriage had just become legal nationwide.

In 1967, the year before “Plato’s Stepchildren” aired, the Supreme Court struck down nationwide laws that made marriage illegal between blacks and whites, between whites and Native Americans, Filipinos, Asians and, in some states, “all non-whites

Only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried that year. In 2015, 17 percent of newlyweds — or at least 1 in 6 of newly-married people — were intermarried, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most television — outside of the news — was escapist fare and not willing to deal with the raucous atmosphere in the 1960s, Thompson said.

“It was so hard for television in the 60s to talk about the 1960s,” he said. “That kiss and that episode of Star Trek is an example of how every now and again television in that period tried to kick the door open to those kinds of representations.”

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, and his team had more leeway because he was writing about the future and not current life, experts said.

“Setting Star Trek three hundred years in the future allowed (Roddenberry) to focus on the social issues of the 1960s without being direct or obvious,” Shatner said in his book “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man.”

A later episode entitled “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” highlighted the folly of racism by showing a generations-long battle between two people from the same planet who thought each other to be subhuman - one was black-skinned on the left side and white on the right, while the other was the opposite.

Throughout the ensuing decades, interracial relationships with black and white actors became more prevalent on television, spanning multiple genres. From comedies like “The Jeffersons” and “Happy Endings,” to dramas such as “Parenthood,” ’'Six Feet Under” and “Dynasty,” and back to sci-fi with the short-lived “Firefly.”

The trend is still not without its detractors. In 2013, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter drew thousands of racist comments online.

Historians have noted that interracial kisses between blacks and whites happened on British television during live plays as early as 1959, and on subsequent soap operas like “Emergency Ward 10.”

In the U.S., interethnic kisses happened on “I Love Lucy” between the Cuban Desi Arnaz and the white Lucille Ball in the 1950s and even on Star Trek in 1967 with Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban kissing Madlyn Rhue in the “Space Seed” episode.

Other shows like “Adventures in Paradise” and “I Spy” featured kisses between white male actors and Asian actresses, and Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on a December 1967 episode of her televised special “Movin’ with Nancy.”

Whether another kiss came first doesn’t really matter.

“For whatever reason, that one between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura seems to be the one that is marked as the milestone,” Thompson said.

It stands out because it had a profound effect on viewers, Nichols said in 2010.

“The first thing people want to talk about is the first interracial kiss and what it did for them. And they thought of the world differently, they thought of people differently,” she said.

Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. Contact him at [email protected], on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland .

star trek data kiss

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"Data, What Have You Done?": Star Trek Just Confirmed The Biggest Lie About Data's Human Form

  • Data's android side is more powerful than his human form. A preview of Star Trek #16 reveals Data doing the work of multiple crew members using his positronic brain.
  • Data's positronic brain allows him to perform tasks beyond human capabilities, saving the Enterprise and the galaxy multiple times.
  • Data's long journey to become human ends in Star Trek: Picard, where his consciousness is transferred to a new synthetic/organic body, giving him the ability to fully explore human emotions.

Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation’s seven season run, the android Data sought to better understand humanity, and desired to be human himself. While this quest to be something more motivated Data in the show, a preview for Star Trek #16 shows that his android side is far more powerful. Even more powerful than fans may realize.

IDW Publishing has shared a first look at Star Trek #16, written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, and drawn by Marcus To. The preview opens with disaster on the Tzenkethi homeworld. The Theseus is down several command officers, forcing Sisko to return to the ship. He enters the bridge, and is shocked to find only two crew members: Lieutenant Descheeni and Data.

Data has hooked his positronic net into the Theseus’ computers, and he tells Sisko that, due to the crew losses, he has consolidated their shifts, as well as the entire Alpha Shift, into one, and he is doing every single one of them.

Data's Positronic Brain Makes Him One of Star Trek's Most Powerful Characters

The preview ends there, leaving fans in awe of Data’s latest miracle. Data’s positronic brain, developed by Doctor Noonian Soong, is unlike anything else in the Federation. It allows Data to perform tasks beyond human ability, such as processing large, complex equations. Data’s android abilities have saved the Enterprise , and the galaxy, many times. Despite his great power, Data longs to be human. In various Next Generation episodes, Data undertakes a variety of endeavors, be it painting or acting, that give him insight into humanity. When Data received his emotion chip in Star Trek: Generations , it brought him one step closer to his goal.

Data’s long journey to better understand humans, and become one himself, comes to an end in the third season of Star Trek: Picard . Data’s consciousness was transferred to a new, synthetic/organic body, the closest he would ever get to being a true human. In this new form, Data was able to fully explore the range of human emotions. Most interestingly, he finally gained the ability to use contractions, something he had been unable to do previously. The show concludes with Data returning to the galaxy, reborn and ready for new adventures.

"Something Far Beyond Data": Star Trek Just Introduced a New Artificial God to Franchise Canon

Data's android form is still a great asset to starfleet.

Yet, as seen in the preview for Star Trek #16, Data’s android form offers a great deal to Starfleet as well. The Theseus was in dire need of new crewmembers, and Data undertook their work himself. Data’s positronic brain gives him superior multi-tasking abilities, and he puts it to spectacular use here by doing the work of at least several individuals. If Data had ever been granted his wish, and became completely human, then the amazing feat fans see in this issue never would have happened–-which in turn would have led to total catastrophe, and a possible war with the Tzenkethi.

Star Trek #16 is on sale January 17 from IDW Publishing!

"Data, What Have You Done?": Star Trek Just Confirmed The Biggest Lie About Data's Human Form

IMAGES

  1. Star Trek

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  2. Data and Borg Queen Kiss [HD]

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  3. January 28, 2016 * Data Privacy Day * (From Star Trek the Next

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  4. Watch all of Captain Kirk's captivating kisses on 'Star Trek'

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VIDEO

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  2. Star Trek

  3. Oh, Data has that memory of kissing Riker now

  4. Data: This is highly improbable

  5. Dax And Worf Wedding on DS9

  6. Data Take Control of The Enterprise Part 1

COMMENTS

  1. Data

    908 83K views 15 years ago Ard'rian gives Data a kiss, saying that she thought he needed it. Show more Show more Show Star Trek: The Next Generation : The Ensigns Of Command Watch on...

  2. Data's 4 Star Trek Love Interests Explained

    By Rachel Hulshult Published Sep 3, 2023 The android Lt. Commander Data had a surprising number of romantic encounters over the course of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Summary Data, an emotionless android, expresses the desire to be human and experience human emotions, leading him to explore romantic relationships and marriage.

  3. Data and Borg Queen Kiss

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  4. Star Trek and the kiss that changed TV

    By Natalie Haynes Features correspondent Paramount/NBC When Nichelle Nichols was thinking of leaving Star Trek, Martin Luther King persuaded her to stay, saying that her role sent a positive...

  5. In Theory (episode)

    Data and Jenna then share a kiss. On the bridge, the planet within the nebula.

  6. Kirk and Uhura's kiss

    Kirk and Uhura's kiss - Wikipedia Kirk and Uhura's kiss Add languages Talk Read Edit View history Tools From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia William Shatner as James T. Kirk and Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura in the 1968 Star Trek episode, " Plato's Stepchildren ."

  7. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Data's Day (TV Episode 1991)

    9 Critic reviews Photos 23 Top cast Edit

  8. Conundrum (episode)

    Summary [] Teaser [] "Captain's log, Stardate 45494.2. We're investigating a series of subspace signals that may indicate intelligent life in the Epsilon Silar system.We are within sensor range." "Scanning intensity has increased by 1,500%. "Shields up. As the crew is going through a typical day, with Data in Ten Forward fixing Deanna Troi a Samarian sunset done in the traditional style to ...

  9. 'Star Trek's' interracial kiss 50 years ago boldly went where none had

    Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the "Star Trek" episode, "Plato's Stepchildren," which first aired on Nov. 22, 1968. CBS Photo Archive / via Getty...

  10. Data And Borg Queen Kiss

    Data and Borg Queen kiss

  11. Sexuality in Star Trek

    The 1968 episode "Plato's Stepchildren" is often cited as the "first interracial kiss" depicted on television, between James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), but the reality is not so straightforward.William Shatner recalls in Star Trek Memories that NBC insisted their lips never touch (the technique of turning their heads away from the camera was used to conceal ...

  12. Data (Star Trek)

    Data is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise.He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and the first and third seasons of Star Trek: Picard; and the feature films Star Trek Generations (1994), First Contact (1996), Insurrection (1998), and Nemesis (2002). Data is portrayed by actor Brent Spiner.. Data was found by Starfleet in 2338.

  13. Fifty Years Ago, "Star Trek" Aired TV's First Interracial Kiss

    On Nov. 22, 1968, an episode of "Star Trek" titled "Plato's Stepchildren" broadcast the first interracial kiss on American television. The episode's plot is bizarre: Aliens who worship ...

  14. Star Trek: Data's 10 Most Human Relationships

    Geordi La Forge. When it comes to humans, Data's most complex and in-depth relationship was with his engineer best friend, Geordi La Forge. They spent years working together on various mechanical systems on the ship, and bonded over it. Geordi even played a big part in caring for Data's own tech.

  15. Nichelle Nichols: TV's First Interracial Kiss on 'Star Trek'

    The kiss between the "Star Trek" characters, played by William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, is widely regarded as one of American TV's first interracial kisses. "Star Trek" has left a lauded ...

  16. 50 years after Star Trek's 'kiss', how have attitudes towards

    Star Trek's groundbreaking interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura was 50 years ago today ... There is no comparable data to that from the Pew Research Centre that covers the UK, but as the ...

  17. The story behind TV's first iconic interracial kiss on 'Star Trek' with

    The magazine Ebony featured Nichols on its January 1967 cover and described Uhura as "the first Negro astronaut, a triumph of modern-day TV over modern-day NASA.". Yet the famous kiss between Uhura and Kirk almost never happened. After the first season of "Star Trek" concluded in 1967, Nichols considered quitting after being offered a ...

  18. Interracial 'Star Trek' Kiss 50 Years Ago Heralded Change

    Historians have noted that interracial kisses between blacks and whites happened on British television during live plays as early as 1959, and on subsequent soap operas like "Emergency Ward 10 ...

  19. The history behind "Star Trek's" iconic TV kiss

    The history behind "Star Trek's" iconic TV kiss - YouTube 0:00 / 2:10 The history behind "Star Trek's" iconic TV kiss Scripps News 436K subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8...

  20. How William Shatner Saved Star Trek's Interracial Kiss Milestone

    The kiss was scheduled at the end of the last day of shooting for the Star Trek Season 3 episode "Plato's Stepchildren." But leading up to the scene, Alexander called "cut." He then approached William Shatner and spoke to him in hushed tones. Nichols knew he was talking to Shatner about the kiss, because her co-star would reply to Alexander in ...

  21. Star Trek's interracial kiss 50 years ago heralded change

    This combination photo shows actor William Shatner on the set of ABC's "Boston Legal" in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2004, left, and actress Nichelle Nichols attending an all-star ...

  22. Did 'Star Trek' Really Air the First Interracial Kiss on TV?

    LEARN MORE. We could go on and list more of the interracial kisses that happened on TV before Kirk and Uhura's, but we've made our point. "Star Trek" wasn't the first — but that doesn't make it any less important. The episode, titled "Plato's Stepchildren," aired a year after the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Loving v. Virginia.

  23. Star Trek's interracial kiss 50 years ago heralded change

    Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator, and his team had more leeway because he was writing about the future and not current life, experts said. "Setting Star Trek three hundred years in the future allowed (Roddenberry) to focus on the social issues of the 1960s without being direct or obvious," Shatner said in his book "Leonard: My ...

  24. "Data, What Have You Done?": Star Trek Just Confirmed The Biggest ...

    Yet, as seen in the preview for Star Trek #16, Data's android form offers a great deal to Starfleet as well. The Theseus was in dire need of new crewmembers, and Data undertook their work ...