Star Trek debuted in 1966 with a voice over by William Shatner for the opening theme
Every Star Trek fan is familiar with William Shatner’s voice over during the theme of The Original Series. Space. The final frontier. Most of us can quote it. But this simple opening didn’t come so easily. It was created over the course of a little over a week the summer before the series was set to premiere in September 1966, and it was rough going with several cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.
On August 1, 1966, Robert Justman, who was one of the producers of Star Trek, urged Gene Roddenberry to compose the standard opening narration for Shatner, and that it should run about fifteen seconds in length. Then came a flurry of rough drafts, that you can read here at library.ucla.edu, none of which met with Roddenberry’s approval.
Certain words were deemed important for the Star Trek narration
Drafts bounced back and forth with words like adventures, galaxy patrol, and United Space Ship taking center stage until producer John Black stepped in and came up with the first four words that became the opening. Space. The final frontier. He also provided the ending “where no man has gone before,” inserting the title of the second pilot.
Then Justman sent another note, mostly eradicting what Black had written, to Roddenberry telling him “these are the words you should use.”
"“This is the story of the starship Enterprise. It’s mission: to advance knowledge, contact alien life, and enforce intergalatic law…to explore the strange new worlds where no man has gone before.”"
Well, that certainly wasn’t to Roddenberry’s liking. A long week went by before, on August 10, 1966, Justman sent another reminder note to Roddenberry, telling him it was “absolutely imperative” that a narration be recorded as soon as possible.
That same date, the final dialgue for the narration was approved. Gone were words referencing aliens, replaced by new life, and there was, of course, no mention of advancing knowledge or enforcing intergalatic law. So Justman’s “should words” were jettisoned, replaced with the best opening narration in the history of television.