A visionary who took special delight in mankind's differences, Eugene Wesley Roddenberry (1921-1991) was born on this day in El Paso, Texas, grew up in Los Angeles, and is best known for creating the cultural phenomena Star Trek series in 1966.
"A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away," said the self-described "Great Bird of the Galaxy."
The prolific Roddenberry was a World War II bomber pilot, L.A. cop, and TV writer before giving birth to the "five year mission" of the Starship Enterprise in the 24th century. The first pilot was "turned down for being too intellectual." He persevered.
"How can a simple space opera... reach out and touch the heart and minds of literally millions of people?" he asked. "Obviously, television has incredible power."
Power that has warped into the 21st century. The original series, with Spock, Captain Kirk, and other icons, is broadcast regularly in hundreds of worldwide countries and spawned four television spinoffs and many motion pictures.
Roddenberry believed the key to Star Trek's success was its message of hope for the future. "There is a tomorrow, the challenges are not gone. There is heroism. It's really just beginning for us."
After his death, Roddenberry's ashes were launched into deep space, a final resting place amid the twinkling stars.
More Film-Making Quotations
Take special delight in life's differences.