The kiss that William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols shared as Kirk and Uhura in the third season Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" put both of their names in the history books forever. One of the earliest instances of an interracial kiss on US television, it became a major cultural moment.
However, when they first started working together on Trek, there was some real-life drama almost immediately.
Nichols had the unfortunate luck of getting in a car accident on the way to set on her second day. While dealing with a "big split lip, busted knee and a bruised right ankle", Nichols was determined not to let this affect her brand-new job. While she waited for the paramedics, she fixed her hair and put on her makeup so she would be set-ready once they were done checking her over.
In Shatner's book Star Trek Memories, Nichols said that she did such a convincing job with her makeup that when the paramedics arrived, they brushed her out of the way, looking for the injured woman. She had to tell them that she was the injured woman!
She was brought to an emergency room where she was treated, including getting some painkiller shots. The doctor warned her to go home before they kicked in, but Nichols, ever the trooper, decided that she felt fine enough to go back to set and film as planned.
It wasn't until she was sitting in Uhura's station that the shots took effect and things started to go sideways. "My vision is starting to blur, I'm starting to slump over Uhura's equipment and I realize, 'I'm fainting'... I remember Bill [Shatner] yelling 'Oh my God, Nichelle!' and running toward me, in slow motion, of course."
Nichols mentioned some "production idiot" who tried to get her to continue shooting, who Shatner had a few choice words for. Seeing that she was in no condition to finish filming, Shatner carried Nichelle to her dressing room, helped her gather her things, and then carried her to his car to drive her home. "And at that point in time," Nichols said, "Bill was driving this amazing Stingray I had never seen before... I made some overmedicated comment like 'that is so-o-o-o-o fine.'"
Shatner got Nichols to her house, but getting her to the door was something else. "So now I had to sort of reach inside the car and lift Nichelle out of her seat," Shatner wrote. "I get her vertical, she throws her arms around my neck and I'm trying my best to hold her up as we waddle to the front door."
Nichols described the following less-than-ideal meeting of Shatner and her son that followed: "We make it to the top of my pathway, Bill carries me up the front steps, raps on the aluminum storm, and watches as my eight-year-old son yanks open the inner door, sees me in my condition and finds this strange man carrying me. My son then makes the meanest, nastiest face he can muster and yells at Bill, 'what the HELL have you done to my MOTHER?!?!?!'"
Nichols continued on, "So now Bill's trying not to laugh, and he's fumphering around going 'no, no, you don't understand. She's gonna be okay, really, I haven't done anything to her. My name's Bill, I work with your mommy. She'll be just fine.' And through all this, I'm still sort of out of it and hearing the conversation as if I'm far away, y'know? But through it all, I'm smiling, even laughing, because this was the beginning of a real relationship."
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