Star Trek Is Back, Here's How Lucille Ball Once Saved the Show Loved by Many

Star Trek's latest chapter Star Trek: Lower Decks hits CBS All Access on Thursday. Coincidentally, the release also falls on what would be actress Lucille Ball's 109th birthday. The actress has a long history with the Star Trek franchise and was a key figure in the show's creation and early success.

The new series is the first animated series for CBS All Access and the first animated Star Trek series since the 1970's, but who knows if Star Trek would be the cultural institution it is had it not been for Ball.

Aside from her influential work on the sitcoms I Love Lucy, Ball was an owner of Desilu Productions, which produced a number of her own shows as well as The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, and, of course, the original Star Trek series. Ball bought out her ex-husband from the studio in 1962.

NBC ordered a pilot from creator Gene Roddenberry and production manager Herbert Solow after CBS turned it down. Ball later overruled the studio's board to finance the show. She also went over the board a second time, when the studio ordered another pilot for the series.

Despite being an integral part of the series getting made, the actress seemingly misunderstood what the show was about. According to the Star Trek website, she thought it was about traveling USO performers. The Star Trek website says the Ball is one of the most important people in the history of the show. "NBC could have passed on Trek overall, but Ball, who believed in the project, stepped in and saved the day in a move that would've made every Starfleet captain proud. The comedian is one of many talented women who are among the many reasons that the Star Trek has endured into the 21st century," the website said.

Trekkies still celebrate Ball for her decision to bypass the Desilu board to get the pilots for the series made, making her one of the most important women in the history of popular science fiction. "Her contribution to nerd culture could never be measured. We love you, Lucy," Grand Rapids Comic Con wrote on Twitter.

Without Ball, it's likely the original series wouldn't have found its way onto TV and into the hearts of many Trekkies for decades. Who knows if the new Lower Decks series would even be available from All Access without the actress vouching for the series.

Lucille Ball
American actress Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989) wearing a long dress with a tartan skirt and a large butterfly brooch. The actress played an important role in the original 'Star Trek' series being made. Getty/John Kobal Foundation