Jack Lord could have been Captain Kirk if he hadn't asked for 50% of Star Trek

"Book 'em, Spocko?"

In some alternate universe, Star Trek reruns are airing with Jack Lord and Martin Landau in the roles of Kirk and Spock. Hey, that sounds like a Star Trek plot in itself.

In the first pilot episode, "The Cage," Jeffrey Hunter played the captain, Christopher Pike. Unfortunately, networks passed on the pilot. Thanks to the good graces and television smarts of Lucille Ball, Star Trek was given the rare second chance. A new pilot would be made.

However, Hunter would not return for the second pilot. The official reason given at the time said that Hunter jumped the series to do movies instead. The truth was perhaps a little more scandalous. In his memoir Star Trek Memories (1993), William Shatner revealed that the producers canned Hunter after his wife repeatedly stormed onto the set insisting on more flattering camera angles for her hubby. But the thing is, Shatner was not even the guy Gene Roddenberry wanted to replace Hunter.

NBC requested a second pilot episode with significant changes to the characters, cast and tone of the show. It was back to the drawing board. Three potential scripts were written with greater attention to action — "Where No Man Has Gone Before," "The Omega Glory" and "Mudd's Women." Roddenberry had a new lead role — Captain James Kirk.

The names floated around by casting consultants, the network and creatives included Nick Adams, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, George Segal, William Shatner and Jack Lord.

Roddenberry knew who he wanted. The Star Trek creator's first choice was Jack Lord.

Lord had a fascinating personal history of his own serving on ships. He was born John Joseph Patrick Ryan. In World War II, Ryan first served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He built bridges in what is now Iraq. He had done some of his schooling at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Ryan returned to the Merchant Marines in 1944. After leaving an African port, his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Ryan was stranded on a lifeboat at sea for 16 hours. He promised himself if he survived he would change his life. After his rescue, he changed his name to Jack Lord.

By the time of casting Star Trek in the mid-1960s, Lord had a lengthy resume, including starring in the lead role in the ABC Western series Stoney Burke. Roddenberry offered Lord the Kirk gig.

Perhaps due to his experience as a lead, Lord had rather high demands for Star Trek.

Lord wanted to produce as well as star. And he wanted 50% of the profits from the series. Even for sci-fi, that was astronomical. But give the actor credit for seeing the potential of the Star Trek franchise.

With Lord out of the picture, Star Trek turned to Shatner, who was coming off his recently canceled legal drama, For the People.

Fortunately, Shatner was cheaper.

Lord would eventually land the starring role of Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O. From 1968–80, he tracked down crooks in paradise, spitting his catchphrase, "Book 'em, Danno." He managed to get a deal for 33% of the profits, too.

Watch Star Trek on MeTV!

Saturdays at 10 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


MichaelPowers 31 months ago
If the supporting cast of Star Trek felt that William Shatner pushed them into the background, Jack Lord would have pushed over a cliff. Lord was a fine actor and excelled on Hawaii Five-O. However, he was a one-man show in his world.
I always thought that if Shatner didn't take the role of Captain Kirk that James Franciscus would have been a good choice.
Grace Lee Whitney was friends with Van "The Green Hornet" Williams and always thought he would have been excellent as Kirk.
KaysDevonianBFF 48 months ago
Peter Graves as the Captain... "So Charlie, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"
sandman 48 months ago
If I spent 16 days on a lifeboat you can call me “Sandy Lord”
CaptainDunsel 64 months ago
'Overheard at a Star Trek convention: "Give a great big round of applause and welcome to our stage, Captain Kirk himself... PETER... GRAVES!!!" '
It would have made for a great "We're not really home yet, are we?" bit in an episode of "Sliders".
MichaelSkaggs 64 months ago
Lloyd Bridges, yes. The others I can't picture on the bridge of the Enterprise.
thedude1500 64 months ago
Lord lost the role of Felix Leiter in the Bond series after just one film because he wanted more money.
Vrinda thedude1500 61 months ago
You're wrong there. I know a man who was friends with Jack Lord and he told this man that Broccoli and his partners wanted Jack to sign a 7-year contract which would prohibit him from doing any work except the James Bond movies. He would get paid a pittance of a salary and have to sit around and wait for them to call him for a movie and there was no guarantee he would even get to play Felix Leiter. So Jack turned down the chance to play Leiter again. Richard Maibaum told a a movie magazine in 1983 that Jack asked for more money and gave no context as to how this happened. There was no mention of Jack allegedly asking for more money to play Leiter prior to that 1983 interview, and one would think that other people involved in the James Bond films higher up than a writer - who is not even involved in casting - would have told this story first, if it was the truth.
Corey 64 months ago
Jack Lord would have been a horrible choice as James T. Kirk. My second choice if not William Shatner would be Michael Landon if he was not being Little Joe in Bonanza.
wildrose119 Corey 42 months ago
Jack would have been a great choice, but he got a better role later.
JohnnyBaron 64 months ago
So glad William Shatner got the role of Captain James T. Kirk & 'not' Jack Lord a boring monotoned voice hack actor who had 'zero charisma' & was "perfect" for another formulaic cop-show with Chin-Ho & book-em blah blah blah etcetera... "Check please!" William Shatner-LEGEND! ... Jack Lord... dead.
Vrinda JohnnyBaron 61 months ago
That only shows that you have you don't know a damn thing about acting and are boring and monotoned yourself! Just because you lack the ability to discern different tones of voice, that doesn't mean that Jack was "monotned." Hack actor - what a crock! Jack Lord had more charisma in his thumbnail than you could ever have. Just because you're too stupid and prejudiced to notice, it doesn't make your comments true. Hawaii Five-O was anything but a formulaic cop show. If you actually watched it and paid attention rather than blow it off, you'd know that. Many actors are dead, It doesn't mean they weren't talented. Jack acted in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, was a guest star in over 100 TV shows, and starred in a successful TV series that ran for 12 years. That is not something a boring, monotoned voice, hack actor does.
wildrose119 JohnnyBaron 42 months ago
Jack Lord was a great actor who was anything but boring and monotoned. Zero charisma? How do you define charisma - not by much, apparently, since you know nothing about it. He had more talent that Shatner could dream of having. It's clear you never watched Hawaii Five-O, given your dismissive tone. You're stupid to follow a storyline. Check please .... JACK LORD - LEGEND ... William Shatner ... dead.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?