Ted Cassidy helped Gene Roddenberry play a prank behind the scenes on Star Trek

As the frightening android Ruk, Cassidy helped Roddenberry deal with an annoying salesman.

The first-season Star Trek episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" has a few memorable things that stand out. It gives us our second evil duplicate Kirk of the series, we get some backstory for Majel Barrett's nurse Chapel... but arguably what sticks in the minds of fans the most is Ted Cassidy as ominous android Ruk.

At this time, Ted Cassidy was fresh off the ending of The Addams Family where he enjoyed a regular role as Lurch, the family butler. In his book Star Trek Memories, William Shatner talks about how Cassidy was cast as the seven-foot-tall, menacing android. Prior to filming, Star Trek's makeup artist, Freddie Phillips asked Cassidy to come in for a makeup test.

"Cassidy sat down in Phillips' undersized makeup chair and allowed the artist to transform him from a smiling young actor to an evil, hulking monster," Shatner writes. "First Freddie covered Ted's head with a latex skinhead wig; then he applied a sort of greyish-green base coat over Cassidy's entire face. Once all that was done, Phillips darkened the area around each of the actor's eyes and employed a black grease pencil to sharpen the angles of Ted's cheekbones, forehead and chin. The end result was quite frightening and really served to drain all the humanity from Cassidy's face."

They got him decked out in a potential costume, then sent him over to Gene Roddenberry's office for approval on the look. (Roddenberry, Trekkies will know, was the creator and executive producer of Star Trek.)

Roddenberry was delighted by the looming android, but asked Cassidy to help him out with a prank before he became human once more. A particularily annoying salesman had been badgering Star Trek cast and crew alike for awhile, trying to get anyone who would listen to buy a suit from him. He'd finally worn down Roddenberry into meeting with him — and he was on his way to meet with him now.

"Flash forward half a minute," Shatner explains, "and you'll find that Gene, [Trek costume designer] Bill Theiss, Freddie, [associate producer] Bob Justman and I are all huddled outside the side door of Gene's office, giggling... with his feet up on Gene's desk and Gene's phone at his ear, sat this seven-foot-tall bald green creature that Bill and Freddie has created, and that Ted Cassidy was now bringing to life wonderfully, pretending that he was Roddenberry."

Shatner says that Cassidy took to the role with enthusiasm, "yammering machine-gun style into the phone and saying things like 'Babe, we need thirty K added to the special effects budget or the Enterprise ain't gonna fly.'"

At this point the persistent salesman knocked on the door, and Dorothy Fantana (then Roddenberry's secretary, later known by her pen name of D.C. Fontana as one of the most beloved Trek writers of the series) let him in. "The doorknob turns, the door opens up and this suit-hawking salesman's come face-to-face with a monster. Cassidy now raises one finger at the guy and continues talking into the phone, milking this performance with everything he's got."

Instead of bolting out the door as Roddenberry expected, the salesman turned the tables... and proceeded to pitch a "big and tall" sale to this green-tinted android. 

"Upon hearing that, Gene, Freddie, Bill, Bob and I explode in laughter... loudly yukking it up as we come stumbling, teary-eyed into the room. The salesguy immediately figures out the joke, but instead of being embarassed or angry, he remarkably, and without a moment's hesitation, starts trying to sell cheap suits to all six of us."

The joke wasn't entirely on the salesman, however — Shatner adds that "guilt-ridden over the prank, Gene and I each bought some really ugly plaid pants."

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WilliamJorns 20 months ago
Interesting bit of Trek trivia: Ted Cassidy also provided the voice of the phony "Commander Balok" of the flagship Fesarius in the Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver." He voiced the large, malevolent, cat-eyed dummy the real Balok used to test the mettle of the Enterprise's captain and crew. Balok was actually a very small person, portrayed by Ron Howard's younger brother Clint in that episode.
RichLorn 21 months ago
I'd like to be in a room with Ted Cassidy, Fred Gwynne, and James Arness. I always wanted to be called Shorty.
LoveMETV22 RichLorn 21 months ago
It would have been interesting if they had done a Three Stooges type episode with
Ted Cassidy, Fred Gwynne, and James Arness.
Michael LoveMETV22 21 months ago
Oh, a wise guy.
LoveMETV22 Michael 21 months ago
Nyuk, Nyuk Nyuk, Soitenly.
bnichols23 LoveMETV22 21 months ago
djw1120 21 months ago
Instead of him playing Roddenberry, Ted should have played "Ruk".
Maybe that would have scared the bejezzus out of the salesman.
On the other hand, Ted was great at playing "Lurch" on "The Addams Family".
"You rang?"
tsgabel 21 months ago
To me, Ted Cassidy was the best character on the Addams Family. I loved watching the faces he'd make at something the family did or said - they were always the funniest moments. I loved 60's TV, I was a youngster back then and wasn't frightened by much "scary" tv except for for Ruk on Star Trek, he REALLY scared the s**t out of me!
BruceBeckwith 21 months ago
I'm sorry, the most memorable thing about "What Are Little Girls Made Of" is Sherry Jackson as Andrea.
BrittReid BruceBeckwith 21 months ago
Sherry Jackson............Hottie
Michael BrittReid 21 months ago
Maybe the woman would feel differently.

And it was good to see Ted Cassidy in things like Genesus II and Planet Earth, and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

And he was Frankenstein jr.
bnichols23 Michael 21 months ago
Definitely concur with Genesis II. I remember watching it back in '73. Good casting all around there -- TC, Alex Cord, Majel, Lynne Marta, Hartley as evil, & of course Percy Rodrigues as Primus Kimbridge. (He'd steal anybody's scene any time just with that voice & presence.) Took me forever to find a copy of that; I finally located a bootleg TV scan of it on VHS on eBay years ago. Not great quality but simply wasn't available any other way.
Pacificsun 21 months ago
We're really fortunate to have those little gems as stories!
I was thinking about it recently, but not in the context of what it meant.
So it was in the Sixties. And something that would never happen, probably only a decade away from that point forward. Meaning, security for one thing. How was a second rate salesman even prowling the property, and thinking that personalities who sold their trade based on perception, would be interested in something so schlocky.
Next, that they had the time and good spirit to 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒚 pranks. Were congenial and appreciative of the day (meaning the times!).
And finally, unless these anecdotes became part of a book, and there is fortunately a ton of material written about Star Trek: the original series. They'll be lost. And certainly we won't be hearing them in "first person" as a treasured memory.
Much less representing the most fortunate of times.

Thank you MeTV Staff for not taking this story for granted. And sharing it in order to brighten our day!
MarkSpeck 21 months ago
I'm always amazed when I see something with Ted Cassidy where he's not made up. I've seen him without Lurch/Ruk/Bigfoot makeup on both Banacek and Ironside, and with his size alone, he's pretty menacing!
Pacificsun MarkSpeck 21 months ago
I'd like to catch him on Perry Mason, which I watch regularly at night (11:30pm) but miss the daytime cycle. Guess I'll have to look at episode guide, and follow it that way.

I've only see one or two pictures of Mr. Cassidy out of character, and except for his height, would not recognize him.
bnichols23 MarkSpeck 21 months ago
Yeah, in Butch Cassidy he's great in the knife-fight bit!
RkBke 21 months ago
ted cassidy was an actual witness to the JFK assassination? what did he see we will never know...but whatever deal was made cassidy with no acting experience was given the role on prime time tv as Lurch....years later in 1979 when the JFK files were reintroduced to see if lee harvey oswald was the loan shooter, Ted mysteriously died on an operating table and silenced....
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MrsPhilHarris texasluva 21 months ago
Yes I would imagine it would be.
Michael MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
There's some conspiracy theory that puts Oswald in Montreal in June 1963, maybe as a "hippie", though it wss too early for that.
MrsPhilHarris Michael 21 months ago
I had not heard this and just looked it up. It’s thought he was handing out pro-Castro pamphlets. Why he would go all the way to Montreal is a bit of a mystery, although it sounds like he was in the company of some known leftists and undesirables.
bnichols23 MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
Definitely was. For our generation it was one of those defining monumental moments. :(
Ratt1959 21 months ago
It's nice hearing little stories like this. Shows the fun side almost everyone has.
Michael 21 months ago
Ted Cassidy as an annoying salesman would be fun too.
horribleHDanny 21 months ago
Back in the mid 70s when I was a kid,Ted Cassidy used to umpire our Little League games.Believe me when I say there weren't a lot of LL parents or managers who would have the gall to argue with his calls!!llol. Malachi Throne(Commodore Mendez in "The Menagerie")also used to officiate occasionally.
Pacificsun horribleHDanny 21 months ago
How very cool! Thank you for sharing!!
texasluva 21 months ago
What a story and prank. I must admit first time seeing this episode I was scared of Ruk. What's he gonna do to Kirk 😟. They'll have to make Spock the new captain. Plus that deep hole there I thought of falling in 😲. Great episode though.
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texasluva LoveMETV22 21 months ago
Oh the 46% was the quiz we had the other day on one of the questions. I am just having fun with everyone with the Scare The Living Daylights Out Of Someone. Our MQ group is open to anyone who wishes to drop in, watch, give an answer or just STS with us. I also try and produce the best movies in most genres for entertainment. Like to liven it up. Most of the time I do not decide until Monday what this week will be and always changing my mind based on many things. I have labeled 1050 movies into Goggle Sheets to keep track of everything. Probably another 500 to go plus always looking for better copies and replacements for ones that are taken down. Most of my good searches have come from some uploader that has found others which I check out and find a Bonanza of movies and TV shows. My two spaces in IA are a mess of so many things and hard to find until I finally found a way to collect each movie alphabetically. Now if I can just find a movie and give clues that last longer then a speeding bullet .
LoveMETV22 texasluva 21 months ago
Yes, I do the same thing when searching on IA. The best uploaders have their favorites, and hidden gems in some. Smart coding as well with just numbers or minus vowels and such, makes it a bit more challenging, but when I find a good one I just rename and save. LOL on the STLDOOS. My apologies to the Acronym sensitive, but i like using them as well as figuring them out.
texasluva LoveMETV22 21 months ago
You don't need to apologize to me. Just show some mercy as you're ready to take down my MQ in less then two shakes of a lambs tail. If not then the MQ Gods will declare me personae non gratae. Having me show squeals of Oh, Gods, parts XIV to infinity 😫. George Burns lives to be 1000 like Methuselah (969 years) close enough for Gods work. From what I gather Burns smoked 10-15 cigars a day for 70 years. This would be quite a lot over 970 years. Over a million for sure 🥴. Says it contributed to his longevity 🙄. Just got to love fiction, huh 😆.
LoveMETV22 texasluva 21 months ago
I guess it depends what was in the cigarsHe handed the reins over to Morgan Freeman and others wishing to portray the role in movies. I know there are probably a few others but Mr. Freeman comes to mind. Of course he shared the role with ‎Jim Carrey ( how generous of him.🎃
Andybandit 21 months ago
I liked Ted Cassidy. He was a good actor. It is too bad he had acromegaly. I was surprised to see how famous people have it.
LoveMETV22 21 months ago
A humorous story. Guess you could call it " 𝙏𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙠 𝙤𝙧 𝙏𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩 ", Roddenberry / Cassidy style.
Runeshaper LoveMETV22 21 months ago
"Trek or Treat" LOL
LoveMETV22 Runeshaper 21 months ago
Good one Runeshaper. 🎃🎃
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