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Why Captain Kirk Shaved His Chest and More Surprising Facts for the 50th Anniversary of ‘Star Trek’

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On September 8th 1966, the crew of the starship Enterprise first boldly went where no man has gone before. Today is the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek!

If any show has lived long and prospered, it’s this brainchild of Gene Roddenberry that has beamed up five TV series, with a sixth coming in 2017, a cartoon, thirteen feature films, and perhaps the most passionate fan base ever.

To celebrate the legacy of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and dozens of dead Red Shirts, we present 5 Surprising Facts About Star Trek.

1. Lucille Ball got Star Trek on TV.

Produced by Lucy’s Desilu Studios, Ball championed the series that she mistakenly believed was about USO “STAR” performers who “TREKKED” around the world. When she found out what the show was actually about, Ball still believed it’d turn a profit and fought with NBC to keep Roddenberry’s dream alive.

Related: ‘Star Trek Discovery’: 5 Things We Learned at the Mission New York Convention

2. Uhura resigned until a certain fan changed her mind: Martin Luther King.

Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Uhura, resigned after the first season. But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approached her at a NAACP event to say, “I am a Trekker, I am your biggest fan.”

As Nichols tells it, “Dr. King said I had the first non-stereotypical role, I had a role with honor, dignity and intelligence. He said, ‘This is why we are marching. We never thought we’d see this on TV.‘” Nichols rescinded her resignation the following Monday.

3. Star Trek featured the first scripted interracial kiss on US television.

Originally meant for Uhura and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, William Shatner demanded that Kirk get the kiss. Nichols says that Shatner shouted, “‘If anyone’s going to be part of the first interracial kiss in television history, it’s going to be me!’”

They were supposed to film the scene both with and without the kiss, but Shatner and Nichols flubbed their lines on the alternate takes, so that the kiss would be the only usable footage.

4. The secret behind those futuristic doors.

The turbolift doors on the Starship Enterprise were always a thing of wonder, but they were actually being pulled open by unseen stagehands. The timing didn’t always work out perfectly, and more than once, Captain Kirk boldly went face-first into an exit.

Related: Ranking 50 Years of Star Trek Series Premieres

5. Gene Roddenberry thought chest hair was a thing of the past.

We all love William Shatner’s freshly shorn chest, so much so that there’s a Shirtless Kirk Cologne, but there was meaning behind the shaving. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry believed men of the future would have “little or no body hair.” Huh. Well, he was a genius…

How are you celebrating Star Trek’s 50th? And what’s your favorite Original Series episode? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram or leave your comments below. And check out our host, Khail Anonymous, on Twitter.