Thursday (Sept. 8) marks the 50th Anniversary of "Star Trek." We're not talking the old movie series, the reboot movie series or the multiple TV-series spinoffs. This post is about the original landmark program that sparked a cultural phenomenon.

Gene Roddenberry was a huge fan of science fiction and created the idea of the space exploration series after working heavily in programs about the Old West. Using that experience, he posited "Star Trek" as "Wagon Train" to the stars. Given that westerns weren't as popular in the mid '60s as they were the previous decade, the idea sparked immediate interest.

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With Bryan Fuller's "Star Trek Discovery" series on the horizon, Zap2it explores 5 lesser known facts about the original series.

No one ever said, 'Beam me up, Scotty'

It's true. While it's unclear exactly how this phrase caught on, no one on Kirk's crew ever uttered the words, "Beam me up, Scotty." The exact phrasing was finally spoken by William Shatner in the audiobook version of his novel, "Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden."

Martin Luther King, Jr. stopped Nichelle Nichols from quitting

"Star Trek" marked the first time American audiences ever viewed a black female on-screen who wasn't a stereotype. After Season 1, Nichols was offered a role on Broadway and planned on leaving the series. Soon, however, she was approached by Martin Luther King, Jr. who admitted he was a huge fan of the show. He talked her into staying on the series, as her role was culturally important.

Without Lucille Ball, 'Star Trek' wouldn't exist

After Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced, she held full control of their production company, Desilu Studios. It was around this time that the company was looking for new projects. She sent "Star Trek" to air in 1966 along with one other cutting edge series, "Mission: Impossible."

lucille ball desilu studios gi1 Star Trek 50th Anniversary: 5 facts about the original series

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It boldly went where no TV show had gone before

William Shatner may have been difficult to work with, but he also understood the importance of what Gene Roddenberry set out to do with "Star Trek." In the episode, "Plato's Stepchildren," Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura were to share a very awkward kiss. They blundered many takes so that the only usable shot was the one of the two actors locking lips.

Leonard Nimoy created the iconic Vulcan salute

In the episode "Amok Time," audiences got their first glimpse at Spock's people. An introduction to another species felt very important to Nimoy who approached the director with a suggestion.

Proposing that Vulcans should have a way of greeting each other, the actor remembered a Priestly blessing he viewed at Synagogue as a child. Translating the hand gestures from Orthodox Judaism to science fiction, the phrase "Live Long and Prosper" was born.