The stars of Star Trek: The Original Series weren’t rolling in the dough
When Star Trek: The Original Series began in 1966, it wasn’t a time of great wealth for the actors and actresses who portrayed the characters that brought the show to life, at least by 2021 standards. Today, it’s not unusual to hear that an actor is making $250,000 per episode. Of course, most actors don’t start out making that, but they certainly don’t start out where the stars of Star Trek began, according to The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman.
When Jeffrey Hunter starred in the first pilot for Star Trek, he was paid $5,000. According to In2013dollars.com, that amount would be worth $42, 217.13 in today’s economy, which still isn’t a high rate of pay for a pilot episode. But his salary was higher than anyone else’s in the pilot but certainly not higher than the price William Shatner commanded when he assumed the role of Captain Kirk for the second pilot.
Other Star Trek: The Original Series actors weren’t getting rich in 1966
Bob Justman, the supervising producer of Star Trek: TOS said Gene Roddenberry was happy to get William Shatner because he was highly thought of in the industry. So it’s no surprise that his paycheck was $10,000 per episode or equivalent to $84,434.26 today. That’s not bad for the 1960s.
Leonard Nimoy cost the studio $2,500 per episode, at least in the first season while Paul Fix who starred as Dr. Piper earned $1,250. Scotty’s James Doohan earned $750 per episode, and George Takei, who spent most of his time on Star Trek seated at the helm, was paid $375 per episode or $3,166.28 today. The stuntman who doubled for Gary Lockwood, who portrayed Gary Mitchell, actually earned more than even Leonard Nimoy, coming in at $5,000 for Where No Man Has Gone Before.
So when you factor in the actual dollars these actors made, it’s easy to see that The Original Series didn’t make them millionaires. And while these salaries are low by today’s standards, back in the mid-sixties, one could buy a house in certain areas for $14,200. But for most people who were trying to make a living, actors still were considered highly-paid.