William Shatner was confronted by Nichelle Nichols' eight-year-old son the first time they met

The inauspicious meeting happened after Nichols got in a car accident on the way to her brand-new Star Trek job.

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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23 Comments

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WandaBaker 1 month ago
Great story. It makes me like William Shatner even more. 🙂
MarkSpeck 1 month ago
Sounds like a rare moment where Shatner actually cared about someone else on the Trek set other than himself.
madvincent 1 month ago
her son was born in 1951.....season 3 started on September 20th 1968.....i didn't go to Harvard but please do the math...... I doubt they even knew each other when her son was 8 ,,,,,,just sayin
WandaBaker madvincent 1 month ago
Hmmm...well how about that! So he was twice that age, unless she had another son.
harlow1313 1 month ago
I enjoyed this slice-of-life story. Such everyday human stuff.
CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
"...when the paramedics arrived..."
Ummm... Nope. This would have happened in 1966, and the paramedic program in LA wasn't established until 1970. It might have been an ambulance or a fire department rescue team. But it wasn't "paramedics".
justjeff CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
Maybe it was a "pair of medics"?
her son was born in 1951.....season 3 started on September 20th 1968.....i didn't go to Harvard but please do the math .....and you're right
Not sure if "do the math" was directed at me or MeTV staff, but the main body of the story isn't set at or near the production of "Plato's Stepchildren". It's set on Nichell Nichols' "second day" (see the 2nd & 3rd paragraphs) , which would mean 1966, not 1968.
Michael CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
Good point. We all know Emergency! brought us paramedics
the do the math is directed for anyone who does research, the point that her son was born in 1951, so even if it was 1966 he would still be a lot older than 8 years old, he'd be 15 years old, also you are right about paramedics coming to light in the early70's.......
Well, I wasn't doing a general fact check of the story, just making the point about the paramedics.
LynCarceo CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
So the son was 15, not 8, if my math is right.
Pacificsun 1 month ago
We love these stories. Thanks MeTV Staff!!
texasluva 1 month ago
Interesting story how all this came about right after her accident. I bet there are another thousand stories on things that happened on and off set to the whole ST cast.
Michael 1 month ago
She had a child? She always looked so young.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Great story! Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
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