With Star Trek: Beyond coming to campus, the legacy of Gene Roddenberry has still proven that there is more to come from such an epic series. But what about the creator himself?
According to startrek.com, the man himself was born on Aug. 19, 1921 in El Paso, Texas and he spent some of his childhood in Los Angeles as well. He originally studied to be a policemen for three years, but decided to change his academic interest to aeronautical engineering where he then preceded to receive his pilot’s license. Not surprisingly, after he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps where he began his training as a cadet, America had entered the second World War. He was a Second Lieutenant and had earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Medal for flying B-17 Bombers out of Henderson Field, flying missions that ranged from bombing the Japanese strongholds at Bougainville to the Munda Invasion.
During the war, he was writing about flying magazines and even poetry publications to the New York Times. After seeing combat, he served as a trouble shooter for the Air Force and after the war, worked with Pan American Airways, all the while studying literature at Columbia University. He would continue his career in flying until 1949 where he spent the next four years as a Los Angeles Police Sergeant. It was then he noticed the success of television and what its future held. He wrote several scripts to such shows as Dragnet, Highway Patrol, Dr. Kildare and Have Gun—Will Travel in 1962. He then left the police to become a full-fledged writer, which in turn led him to write the series that started it all: Star Trek.
According to the Academic Brittanica, he tried to sell the idea to producers, but it wasn’t until Sept. 8, 1966 that NBC first aired the series. The series constantly faced the threat of cancellation if it had not been the first Trekkies to initiate letter writings to keep the series alive until 1969. Despite the end of the series, an animated version of the original series was aired from 1973-75 and the first theatrical film Star Trek-The Motion Picture hit the screens with the original cast.
In 1987 he became the executive producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, featuring Patrick Stewart in his legendary role as Captain Picard. Sadly, Gene Roddenberry would not see the end of the series as he did with his previous installment. During the filming of the episode “Hero Worship,” Roddenberry died of a heart failure. He was survived by his wife Majel Barret and their son, along with two daughters from a previous marriage. At the beginning of the episode “Hero Worship,” the show paid tribute to the fallen creator. With the current release of Star Trek: Beyond, the legacy of Gene Roddenberry continues to live on.