Where no newspaper had gone before
Star photographer captured moment in pop-culture history, first Star Trek episode to air
When the late Toronto Star photographer Reg Innell stepped into a Los Angeles studio 53 years ago to photograph a bunch of unknown Canadians on a TV set, he didn’t think much of the assignment he did on a lark.
Pop culture didn’t interest him. So it’s hard to imagine what he’d make of that lowbudget science-fiction show called Star Trek. Innell was on vacation in July of 1966, when he shot pictures of unknown Canadians William Shatner as Captain Kirk and James Doohan as Scotty — and he happened to capture a moment in pop-culture history.
That episode, “The Man Trap,” debuted in September as the first Star Trek episode seen on TV, although it was the sixth filmed.
The pictures were never published. Until now.
Star Trek, originally pitched as a kind of “Wagon Train to the Stars,” by creator Gene Roddenberry, would go on to spawn six successor series (including the upcoming Picard) and 13 movies. It would influence a generation of space explorers, including the first
NASA space orbiter shuttle being named the Enterprise, after Kirk’s fictional ship.
The newest iteration of the show is shot in Toronto at Pinewood Toronto Studios near the Star offices on Lake Ontario. Star Trek: Discovery, starring Sonequa Martingreen, returns for a highly anticipated second season on Jan. 17 on Crave.
As fans know, the new series takes place a decade before the classic Star Trek series. The action-filled first episode of the new season has Captain Pike (Kirk’s canonical predecessor on the Enterprise) leaving the ship and taking command of the Discovery. The special effects on the current show remain the gold standard for science fiction series — a noteworthy achievement, considering the original series was known for cheesy, low-budget effects and props.
After Innell’s death in 2018, boxes of his negatives were donated to the Star courtesy of his life partner Margaret Serrao, who said he “never read science fiction, and I doubt if he even looked at the show when it aired.”
“He was there during the golden years when photographers had a lot more access to their subjects and you could interact with them,” says Innell’s daughter Adrienne.
A Star story at the time of Innell’s visit to Los Angeles headlined “The Canadian Colony” reports the photographer was on vacation in L.A., not on assignment, when he visited one of his best friends, the Peyton Place actor Jim Begg.
The story mentions Canadians living and working in L.A., and the new NBC series employing a couple of them is given a throwaway line: “Don Francks is at work on a new TV series Jericho, and so is James Doohan in the series Star Trek, a science fiction starring fellow ex-canadian William Shatner,” it reads barely foreshadowing the impact the two Canucks would have starring in one of the most enduring TV shows in history.
“Star Trek Discovery” season 2 debuts Jan. 17, 53 years after Reg Innell captured history in the making on the set (below) of the original series’ first episode to air.
James Doohan and William Shatner caught on camera on the L.A. set in 1966.
Actress Francine Pyne played Nancy Crater, in filming of “The Man Trap.”