Was The First-Ever Interracial Kiss Really In Star Trek?

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

As far as I know, it is indeed the first example.

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

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.

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

we should all be ashamed of Hee Haw, my friend. Every last one of us.

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

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.

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

didn’t Eminem kiss a white girl in a movie?

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.

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.

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.

I’m pretty sure Jack Benny and Rochester made out a few times.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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?

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.