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Gene Roddenberry

TV Producer

Born: 19 August 1921
Died: 24 October 1991
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas
Best known as: Creator of TV's Star Trek
Gene Roddenberry was the man behind the ultra-successful Star Trek franchise, the creator and producer of the original television series (1966-69). A combat veteran of World War II, Roddenberry moved to Los Angeles to work as a writer for television in the 1950s. After a successful decade of writing for cop shows and westerns, Roddenberry developed his own television series about space adventurers in the 23rd century. Star Trek, although not a popular series while on the air, became a cult phenomenon beginning in the 1970s. While syndication of the series was steady in the '70s, Roddenberry launched other projects, including the TV series Genesis II (1973) and The Questor Tapes (1974), a feature film (1971's Pretty Maids All in a Row) and the TV movie Spectre (1977). Star Trek was taken to the big screen in 1979, and Roddenberry's novel adaptation became a bestseller. Since then, there have been many additions to the franchise, including feature films, novels and a string of related shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001). Since his death, Roddenberry-inspired productions have also included Earth: The Final Conflict (1997) and Andromeda (2000). In 1997 Roddenberry's ashes, along with those of Timothy Leary, were shot into outer space aboard a Spanish research satellite, scheduled to orbit the earth for approximately six years.
Extra credit: Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barret, has appeared in several of his productions: she was in the original pilot as "Number One," but for the series she was replaced by the studio, who balked at having a woman second in command; she then appeared in the original series as nurse Christine Chapel, whose love for Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) was unrequited; she appeared in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine as Lwaxana Troi, mother of Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis); and she has been the voice of the ship's computer in the TV shows and feature films.

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