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View Full Version : Was The First-Ever Interracial Kiss Really In Star Trek?


Sir Rhosis
02-28-2003, 08:30 PM
As with many fans of the original Star Trek, I've long heard that the first interracial (for the purposes of this post, and as the term is usually used--between a white person and a black person, both adults) kiss on television occurred between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols (Kirk and Uhura) on a 1969 episode entitled Plato's Stepchildren.

I've always accepted this, but as with many "accepted truths," I've begun to wonder: was it really the first on TV? It seems to me that by 1969, there were beginning to be inroads into television by many black actors and a few TV shows prominently (moreso than the underutilized Nichols) featured black actors. Didn't I, Spy, to pick an example, ever deal with this issue? Also, it would seem that before then, writers such as Rod Serling or Paddy Chayefsky would have tried to address this in a series or movie of the week.

Maybe, it's just that I hope in my heart that there is a more dignified example than this embarrasingly bad episode, universally reviled among Trek fans, one that is truly worse than Spock's Brain.

Sir Rhosis

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
02-28-2003, 08:35 PM
As far as I know, it is indeed the first example.

And it was banned from broadcast for years throughout the South. :rolleyes:

astro
02-28-2003, 08:37 PM
I'm pretty sure Monty Hall of "Let's Make a Deal" kissed at least one black woman between his show starting 1963 and 1969.

Sir Rhosis
02-28-2003, 08:39 PM
Bosda..., I've heard the story that many southern affiliates (I'm a Southerner, myself, and this does bother me; it doesn't consume me, but it does shame me) chose to run Hee Haw instead of this episode.

Sir Rhosis

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
02-28-2003, 08:44 PM
we should all be ashamed of Hee Haw, my friend. Every last one of us.

Sir Rhosis
02-28-2003, 08:45 PM
I think the definition that most people accept, and one that I started to put in my post, is that it be within a fictional context, and somewhat romantic or sexual (though Kirk and Uhura were forced to kiss by telekinetic aliens, and it was neither) as I too thought that surely someone who was white (or black) on an award show kissed a person who was black (or white) long before '69.

Sir Rhosis

Achernar
02-28-2003, 09:00 PM
Although I don't remember this episode, I seem to recall from Star Trek Memories by William Shatner that there wasn't any actual osculation in the shot that made the episode, although they did film shots in which there was.

Sir Rhosis
02-28-2003, 09:03 PM
Shatner repeated this bit on one of the late-night shows (Leno or Conan) and they ran the footage, pretty much proving his memory wrong.

Good word--osculation.

Sir Rhosis

Mothchunks
02-28-2003, 11:32 PM
didn't Eminem kiss a white girl in a movie?

SnugTheJoiner
03-01-2003, 12:26 AM
It was NOT the first interracial kiss, because it was not really a kiss at all. If anything, it might have been the first interracial almost-kiss.

I saw the episode in question not long ago. Their lips never actually touch, (Kirk and Uhura are struggling against the aliens' telekinetic powers throughout the sequence), but they do come within about a half-inch of each other several times. I'm sure that was more than enough to throw certain viewers into a tizzy.

Walloon
03-01-2003, 02:09 AM
Originally posted by Sir Rhosis
Bosda..., I've heard the story that many southern affiliates (I'm a Southerner, myself, and this does bother me; it doesn't consume me, but it does shame me) chose to run Hee Haw instead of this episode. Couldn't have happened. Star Trek was an NBC show that ran 1966-1969. Hee-Haw originated as a CBS show in June 1969 before moving to syndication in 1971.

syncrolecyne
03-01-2003, 02:10 AM
I think there have been films where a black character and a white person kissed on screen before...with the "black character" being portrayed as a light skinned or mixed person by an actor that wasn't actually black - as in An Imitation of Life, Pinky, Showboat, or Lost Boundaries. I can't recall whether there was an actual kiss in any of these films, but there was an "interracial" romance.

blowero
03-01-2003, 03:17 AM
I'm pretty sure Jack Benny and Rochester made out a few times.

Nanoda
03-01-2003, 05:57 AM
I believe I read this in Nichelle Nichol's autobiography: everyone on the set was happy with the way the scene was, but those in charge at the studio wanted to film the scene again w/o the kiss. They were pretty sure that version would get used if they did it, so Shatner did it a bunch of times where... his... pauses!... were... all... ... outrageous! And they almost ran out of time. He was told to do it right the last time, and Nichelle though he had, but when the film was developed apparently he was crossing his eyes so badly they couldn't use it.

Kaitlyn
03-01-2003, 08:32 AM
The first black-white kiss, yes.

But I disagree with your defenition of interracial being only black-white. Interracial means just what it says: between two people of different races. Kirk kissed Frances Nguyen in "Elaan of Troyius" before "Plato's Stepchildren", making that the first interracial kiss on television. And "Elaan of Troyius" is one of the good episodes.

sugaree
03-01-2003, 10:11 AM
Originally posted by astro
I'm pretty sure Monty Hall of "Let's Make a Deal" kissed at least one black woman between his show starting 1963 and 1969.

Maybe we need to qualify it by asking when the first romantic black/white kiss happened, as opposed to a peck.

smiling bandit
03-01-2003, 10:21 AM
Couldn't have happened. Star Trek was an NBC show that ran 1966-1969. Hee-Haw originated as a CBS show in June 1969 before moving to syndication in 1971.

Not a problem; ST achieved real popularity after the series ended and it ran in syndication.

Sir Rhosis
03-01-2003, 10:40 AM
Number Six, it is not my definition, not one that I personally use, only one that I used for the purposes of the post. As I thought I had made clear in my OP, I used it as it is "usually," "generally" used. Say the word "interracial" to 100 people and 90-95 will automatically flash on black/white. Incorrect, but the way it is.

But for the record: I am looking for examples of a kiss (yes, more than a "peck") between a black adult and a white adult that may have preceded the one on Star Trek.

Sir Rhosis

Walloon
03-01-2003, 10:51 AM
Originally posted by smiling bandit
Not a problem; ST achieved real popularity after the series ended and it ran in syndication. Yes, but if it happened when Star Trek and Hee Haw were both in syndication, there would have been no need to preempt the broadcast of Star Trek by substituting an episode of Hee Haw, would there? The local station could have just substituted a different episode of Star Trek.

And even if it happened during Star Trek's original network run in 1969, how would local stations have known in advance about the interracial kiss?

John Carter of Mars
03-01-2003, 11:35 AM
FWIW, I saw the "Kiss Episode" of Star Trek on the occasion of its initial airing. Since the only TV stations available to me at the time originated from either Montgomery, Al., or Columbus, Ga., it's safe to say not ALL Southern stations refused to show that episode, if indeed any refused to.

I don't recall any big disturbance about this show at the time. I think it has become more famous recently. Back in the day, a "shrug" reaction was about all it generated, at least from the people I was hangin' out with.

YPOD
03-01-2003, 05:11 PM
I think there would have been more of a reaction had they had a black male character kiss Yeoman Rand. And is it me, or did she always looked stoned?

Lamia
03-01-2003, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by Number Six

But I disagree with your defenition of interracial being only black-white. Interracial means just what it says: between two people of different races. Kirk kissed Frances Nguyen in "Elaan of Troyius" before "Plato's Stepchildren", making that the first interracial kiss on television. And "Elaan of Troyius" is one of the good episodes.

What constitutes "different races"? If you consider Hispanic/Latino a racial group then I suspect the first interracial kiss may have taken place on I Love Lucy.

cedric45
03-01-2003, 09:08 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by John Carter of Mars
[B]FWIW, I saw the "Kiss Episode" of Star Trek on the occasion of its initial airing. *snip*


Same here in North Carolina. I think this "banning story" is urban legend trying to show how backwards southerners are.

tracer
03-01-2003, 10:58 PM
I'm sure there were black-white smooches in the movies before 1969. Heck, you could catch a glimpse of Sidney Poitier and what's-her-face sucking face in the back of the taxicab near the beginning of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, which came out in 1967.

tracer
03-01-2003, 11:01 PM
Originally posted by Nanoda
They were pretty sure that version would get used if they did it, so Shatner did it a bunch of times where... his... pauses!... were... all... ... outrageous!
Um ... has Shatner ever delivered a line where he didn't overact ... with ... too ... manypauses! ?

Walloon
03-02-2003, 12:17 AM
On the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live, Ellen Holly, who joined the cast in 1969, played a black secretary who passes for white, and who is in love with her white boss. Whether this led to a kiss and when, I do not know. But whole "passes for white" thing dissipates the issue.

Thomas Stearns
03-02-2003, 04:37 AM
I'm with some of the other guys here. What makes an interracial kiss have to be between white-black. I think the other 70% of the world's population is feeling left out here.