The Truth About William Shatner And Nichelle Nichols' Relationship

Long before William Shatner was playing Stanley Fields in "Miss Congeniality" or starring in endless Priceline commercials, he was an integral member of the original cast of "Star Trek." Shatner portrayed Captain James T. Kirk from 1966 to 1969 and later reprised his role in the 1979 film "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," as well as its five subsequent sequels (via Britannica). As the head of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise, Shatner as Captain Kirk oversaw the spaceship's mission "to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

Although Shatner has tackled other roles throughout the years, he's well-aware that "Star Trek" will be his main legacy. He's spoken of how grateful he is to have had the experience of playing Captain Kirk, and that something like "Star Trek" doesn't come around very often. "I understand that it's a phenomenon and in your and my lifetime there will never be another thing like it," Shatner told the Irish Times. "Because it would take another 50 years and, as we already discussed, I'm already 52," Shatner, who was 90 at the time of the interview, joked.

Also taking part in the "Star Trek" phenomenon was actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. While on the series, she and Shatner made television history in a major way.

How William Shatner made history on Star Trek with co-star Nichelle Nichols

At the time that Nichelle Nichols appeared on "Star Trek," there were very few Black actresses on television. In fact, Whoopi Goldberg has said that it was seeing Nichols on TV that inspired her to become an actress (via Northminster Presbyterian Church). Nichols would go on to make history with Shatner when the two shared the first scripted interracial kiss in U.S. television history (via Irish Times).

Although it was scripted for Shatner and Nichols to share the kiss, the crew attempted to shoot two different scenarios: one where Captain Kirk and Uhura kissed, and another wherein the kiss didn't happen (via Inverse). However, Shatner and Nichols refused to comply with the second scenario, goofing around and ensuring that the shot the crew got of them not kissing wasn't suitable for air.

"I wish someone had the tapes of all of the times we flubbed the kiss between Bill and I," Nichols said years later (via Chicago Tribune). "They were fantastic. The studio wanted one take where we did kiss, and one where we didn't in case that was too 'out there' for the audiences, but we didn't give it to them."

While it's not clear how much Shatner and Nichols are still in touch today, it seems like they had fun together on set while filming — and Shatner supported Nichols at a crucial time.