|Still from an unaired, early version of 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965)|
NBC shattered all television precedent and asked for a second pilot. This caused quite a stir within the industry, because up until that time no network had ever asked for a second pilot.
--Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek (1968), p.126To be fair to Whitfield (the nom de plume of Stephen Edward Poe, who shared credit with Gene Roddenberry, but wrote most of the book himself), he wasn't claiming that a second television pilot had never been produced for the same property before — only that, prior to Star Trek, no television network had ever asked for a second pilot episode after rejecting the first one.
In the years since Whitfield's book was first published, however, the record-setting mythology about Star Trek's second pilot episode has only grown. By the time The Making of Star Trek—The Motion Picture (1980) was published, Star Trek's second pilot episode had become unprecedented in and of itself (for now, I'm ignoring the other inaccuracies in this passage):
After knocking on all the doors in town, he [Roddenberry] eventually got Desilu Studios to put up the money for the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” It was rejected by all three networks. Later, an unprecedented second pilot was ordered (“Where No Man Has Gone Before”), and NBC added Star Trek to its fall lineup for 1966.
--Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek—The Motion Picture (1980), p.9*Although I believe this was the first time that Star Trek's second pilot episode was described as being "unprecedented," it was hardly the last. These are just some of the examples I found with the help of Google Books:
After spending $630,000 on "The Cage," NBC felt the series format deserved a second chance. For the first time in television history, a second pilot was commissioned. Amid the chatter of disbelief within the industry, NBC let Roddenberry and Desilu know that some changes had to be made in the "Trek" format.
-Allan Asherman, The Star Trek Compendium (second edition, 1986), p.17
The pilot was submitted to NBC in February, 1965. They rejected it. But the project wasn't canned; NBC still saw promise in the series and authorized an unprecedented second pilot—including an almost entirely new cast.
--Author Unknown, Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (1988), p.86
However, instead of dumping the project, NBC did the unprecedented, giving Gene the go-ahead to film a second pilot that they hoped would be more appealing to the network’s sensibilities.
--William Shatner with Chris Kreski, Star Trek Memories (1993), p.66
However, the executives were impressed enough by Roddenberry's efforts to make an unprecedented request for a second pilot, a more adventurous story by Samuel A. Peeples called "Where No Man Has Gone Before."
--Jeff Bond, The Music of Star Trek: Profiles in Style (1999), p.14
NBC then made the unprecedented decision of asking Roddenberry to shoot a second pilot, but with changes...
--David J. Shayler and Ian Moule, Women in Space: Following Valentina (2005), p.146
But they [NBC] requested a second pilot. This was unheard of in NBC history.
--D.C. Fontana, Star Trek 365 (2010), from the book's introduction
NBC executives were impressed enough with "The Cage," Star Trek's rejected original telefilm, that they took the unprecedented step of ordering a second pilot rather than abandoning the concept.
--Mark Clark, Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise (Kindle Edition, April 2012)
Roddenberry was hoping Mort Werner was going to make good on his word and order a second pilot, even though such a thing had never before been done.
--Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn, These Are The Voyages — TOS: Season One (First Edition, August 2013), p.199.
|Still from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965; broadcast 1966)|
Contemporary accounts in newspapers and trade magazines are helpful in answering these questions. Consider the following, from the Los Angeles Times:
Desilu is reshooting two pilot films. Star Trek, which reportedly cost $500,000 the first time around, is being filmed again without Jeffrey Hunter. The Good Old Days is undergoing script and premise revisions and will be shot a second time with another actor replacing Darryl Hickman.
--Inside TV: Eddie Albert to Play Rural Lawyer, Los Angeles Times (May 3, 1965), p.D28The passage above was not the lead in the newspaper's regular "Inside TV" column — that was dedicated to announcing the series that would become Green Acres (1965-71). The news about Star Trek's second pilot was buried in the column's fourth paragraph and, notably, was announced alongside the news that another Desilu program for NBC was also receiving a second pilot and recasting its lead.
Nine days later, Weekly Variety covered the same story in a little more detail:
Two Desilu pilots shot for next season, but not sold, may yet be aired.
NBC-TV has okayed production of a second seg of "Star Trek," hour-long sci-fi series, and William Shatner will replace Jeffrey Hunter as the lead in this projected series. Web has also okayed three more scripts, and is interested in "Trek" for a mid-season or 1966-67 start. Second seg rolls around July 5, with Gene Roddenberry, who produced the first one, producing it.
Second Desilu pilot involved is "The Good Old Days," half-hour comedy starring Darryl Hickman. NBC-TV, for which it was made, and Desilu execs are talking of the possibility of reshooting this pilot, and there may be a change in its cast if this is done.
--'Definite Maybe' for 2 Unsold Desilu Pilots, Weekly Variety (May 12, 1965), p.167Buried on the bottom of page 167, the news about Star Trek wasn't treated as a prominent story by Weekly Variety, either. And, once again, it was covered alongside the news that another Desilu series for NBC was being slated for a second pilot. In light of this information, the claim that 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' was causing "quite a stir within the [entertainment] industry" seems rather dubious at best.
Having established these facts, however, I could find no evidence in the Hollywood trades that a second pilot was actually produced for The Good Old Days, a proposed half-hour sitcom "about a caveman who goes searching for adventure." Does that mean 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' really was the first time a second pilot was produced for a single series — or, at least, the first time the same network ordered a second pilot after rejecting the first one?
After further research, I'm sorry to report that the answer is a resounding no — not even close. What follows is a chronological list of ten pilot episodes that were rejected, but followed by a second pilot episode. Not all of these second pilots became series (like all television pilots, many didn't sell), but all of them were produced before Gene Roddenberry began developing Star Trek at Desilu.
This list should not be viewed as comprehensive, as my research into this area has been far from exhaustive. If there are other programs with second (or even third) pilot episodes that do not appear here — especially if they were produced before 1965 — I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.
|Still from Lum and Abner's second pilot (CBS, 1949)|
Lum and Abner (Pilots: 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956)
The first Lum and Abner TV pilot was filmed for CBS in 1948 and tried to emulate the daily fifteen-minute format of the radio show...CBS president William S. Paley supposedly like it but felt that the market for fifteen-minute television programs was rapidly going to disappear. He commissioned a second pilot, which was filmed during the summer of 1949.
--Tim Hollis, Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (2008), p.148-149The first Lum and Abner pilot is not available, but the second pilot can be seen online. Surprisingly, after rejecting the second, half-hour pilot late in 1949, CBS decided to try again and made a third television pilot about a year later:
A third Lum and Abner pilot actually made it onto CBS' airwaves in February 1951...Although the pilot received favorable reviews after its airing, it still did not lead to a series.
--Tim Hollis, Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (2008), p.149-150A few years later, a fourth attempt to launch a Lum and Abner television series resulted in three half-hour episodes filmed in late 1954 and early 1955, but these trio of pilots for a proposed series were never broadcast. Instead, they were hastily spliced together into Lum and Abner Abroad (1956), which was released theatrically to poor reviews.
|Still from The Great Gildersleeve television series (1955-56)|
The Great Gildersleeve (Pilots: 1954, 1955)
Like Lum and Abner, The Great Gildersleeve was an attempt to bring a successful radio program to television. After showing their first pilot episode in 1954, NBC announced they were commissioning a second pilot:
Apparently dissatisfied with audience reaction to its "Great Gildersleeve" pilot film, NBC yesterday announced that it has signed producer Robert S. Finkel to film a new pilot for the long-time radio program.
"Gildersleeve was previewed twice on the net this fall in order to gauge viewer response. The second pilot film, also starring Willard Waterman, will first be aired on January 6.
--NBC Sets New 'Gildie' Pilot, The Billboard (December 25, 1954), p.7The Great Gildersleeve's second pilot led to a weekly series, but it struggled to replicate the success of the radio show, and was finally cancelled after one full season on NBC.
|Still from Fibber McGee and Molly (second pilot, 1959)|
Fibber McGee and Molly (Pilots: 1954 and 1959)
NBC signed Frank Tashlin to produce and direct a pair of pilot telefilms for the "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "Great Gildersleeve" shows which the network owns. He reports next week and expects to finish the assignment by the end of February.
--NBC Sets Tashlin To Guide Telepix On 'Fibber' & 'Gildersleeve, Weekly Variety (January 13, 1954) p.26Variety reported that sponsors were bidding on the pilot in May of 1954, but a series failed to materialize. Two years later, Weekly Variety reported that a second pilot was in the works:
Jim and Marion Jordan are once again interested in a television version of "Fibber & Molly" and a second pilot may be coming along soon...
--From the Production Centres, Weekly Variety (March 21, 1956), p.30Interest, apparently, took a while to develop into action, but three years later the second pilot was finally ready to go before the cameras:
As a video entry, F & M will have Bob Sweeney and Cathy Lewis playing the lead roles. Pilot is being shot this month in Hollywood with Bill Lawrence as producer.
--Johnson Wax Still Loves That Fibber, Weekly Variety (March 18, 1959), p.32The second attempt to bring Fibber McGee and Molly to television was only a little more successful than the first. Although it became a weekly series produced by William Asher for NBC, it only lasted twelve episodes before being cancelled.
|Still from Have Camera, Will Travel (second pilot, filmed February of 1956)|
Have Camera, Will Travel (Pilots: 1955 and 1956)
Paul Gilbert pilot, to be filmed by NBC-TV, has been set to roll at Hal Roach Studios on June 6. Program, to deal with the adventures of a pair of photographers, has been titled, "Have Camera, Will Travel."
--NBC-TV Skeds June 6 Start for 'Camera,' The Billboard (June 4, 1955), p.13NBC rejected this pilot, but ordered a second one:
A second pilot of the Paul Gilbert starrer, "Have Camera, Will Travel," will be shot from a new script, the thinking being that the concept is a sound one but that the first half-hour, lensed at Hal Roach Studios last spring, was mis-written and miscast.
--NBC-TV Bears Down on Color Programs, The Billboard (October 22, 1955), p.14The second pilot (which guest starred a young Charles Bronson) was filmed in February of 1956, and can be found in three parts on YouTube here, here, and here. Daily Variety reported that this pilot was screened for NBC executives in April of 1956 along with four other potential shows. That screening must have been unsuccessful; afterwards, I can find no mention of the pilot or the proposed series in any of the Hollywood trade papers.
|Double Indemnity (Paramount, 1944; source: Filmmaker IQ)|
Double Indemnity (Pilots: Unknown and 1963)
U TV has ventured into other Par pix as potential series, but not always with success. It made a pilot based on "Double Indemnity," the Par hit of yesteryear, but it didn't sell. A second pilot of the same property was made last season as a spinoff, but it didn't make the grade either.
-Universal TV Tries More Old Par Pix as Video Vehicles, Weekly Variety (October 13, 1965), p.34The spin-off mentioned above was an episode of Kraft Mystery Theater (1947-58), an anthology program which often broadcast potential pilots. Entitled 'Shadow of a Man,' and first aired on June 19, 1963, the pilot was a very loose adaptation of Double Indemnity with Broderick Crawford and Jack Kelly in the roles originated by Edward G. Robinson and Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder's 1944 film version. This pilot can be viewed in full on YouTube here.
|Promotional still for Tombstone Territory (1957-59; source: Shout! Factory)|
Tombstone Territory (Pilots: Both 1957)
Beginning in 1956, Ziv also began selling programming directly to the networks, which was the case with Tombstone Territory, a half-hour western that began its life as a pilot called Tombstone in 1957:
Ziv TV today rolls pilot for a new western vidpix series, “Tombstone.” Jan Merlin co-stars with Richard Eastham and Norman Foster directs.
--Daily Variety (February 12, 1957), p.11Daily Variety later reported that the series had been sold to a sponsor, re-titled Gunfire Pass, and was set to appear on ABC:
“Gunfire Pass,” oater [Western] series starring Richard Eastham, has been sold by Ziv TV to Bristol-Myers, and will be seen on ABC-TV next season....Pat Conway has a featured lead in “Gunfire” series, which will be based on stories of Tombstone, Ariz., produced by Frank Pittman and Andy White. The 89 episodes go into production around the first of June.
--Ziv Sells 'Gunfire' To Bristol-Myers For ABC-TV, Daily Variety (May 23, 1957), p.9
Although the sponsor (Bristol-Myers) was satisfied with this pilot, apparently ABC had second thoughts, forcing Ziv to produce a second pilot with significant revisions:
Following reshooting and recasting of a pilot nixed by ABC-TV, Ziv TV's second pilot, called "Tombstone Territory," has been okayed by the network and will be seen on ABC next season, with Bristol-Myers sponsoring.
Ziv had originally lensed a pilot called "Town at Gunfire Pass," which BM bought, but ABC termed "unacceptable." As as result, pilot was recast, with Pat Conway, who was second lead in the first pilot, upped to top lead, and the second pilot proved acceptable both to the sponsor and the network. Pilot was directed by Eddie Davis.
Conway plays role of a sheriff of Tombstone, while the crusading editor of the Tombstone Epitaph - originally the lead character - is now relegated to a secondary role. Series will be on Wednesday nights following "Disneyland."
--Ziv Tombstone' Passes Muster After ABC Nix, Daily Variety (August 22, 1957), p.15Tombstone Territory's second pilot was enough to convince ABC to go forward with the series, which premiered with its second pilot episode on October 16, 1957. ABC eventually broadcast the first pilot (with a new title, 'Guilt of a Town') on March 19, 1958. Tombstone Territory lasted for three seasons and a total of 91 episodes.
Still from Collector's Item (2nd pilot, filmed late 1957)
Collector's Item (Pilots: Both 1957)
The earliest mention of this Vincent Price-Peter Lorre television vehicle I've been able to find is a casting item that appeared in an early 1957 issue of Daily Variety, indicating that the pilot would begin filming on January 29, 1957:
Jockey Billy Pearson has been cast by producer Julian Claman in pilot of "Collector's Item," new telepix series 20th-Fox rolls tomorrow for CBS. Vincent Price, who appeared with Pearson on "$64,000 Challenge" stars in series, as does Peter Lorre.
--Collector's' Mount For Billy Pearson, Daily Variety (January 28, 1957), p.3
Variety followed this story a few weeks later with more detail on the prospective program:
An adventure-comedy series co-starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre called "Collector's Item." This is a wholly-owned CBS property created by west coast program exec Hunt Stromberg Jr., the idea stemming from the audience excitement generated by Price's recent participation in "$64,000 Challenge" with Edward G. Robinson. However, this one's not a quiz show; strictly comedy with adventure overtones in which Price portrays the owner of a N.Y. art gallery with Lorre as a phony art dealer who goes to work for Price. Web's hopes are particularly high on this one.
--Hopes High on 30-Min. Bundle, Daily Variety (February 20, 1957), p.23A few weeks later, according to a story in the March 16, 1957 issue of The Billboard, Collector's Item was ready to be shown to advertising agencies in New York, in search of a potential sponsor. Apparently, however, CBS was unsuccessful. Not ready to abandon the project, however, CBS hired a new writing team to script a second pilot:
Gwen Bagni and Irwin Gielgud have been signed by CBS-TV to teleplay pilot of a new vidpix series, "Collector's Item," which will star Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.
--Pair Plotting "Item," Daily Variety (July 10, 1957), p.3
CBS-TV has signed Herb Meadow to a five-year pact as producer-writer and assigned him to produce its new series, "Collector's Item," starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Meadow scripted pilot, which rolls soon. First pilot of series, made long ago, was junked.
--Herb Meadow's 5-Year CBS-TV Prod.-Writer Pact, Weekly Variety (November 6, 1957), p.52
By the end of the year, the second pilot was completed (it can be viewed in three parts here, here, and here), and CBS again went looking for a sponsor for the show:
Collector's Item—Remake of last season's pilot, starring Vincent Price as an art collector who becomes embroiled in crime and mystery.
--Nets Vary Widely On Show Types For Fall, The Billboard (February 3, 1958), p.6Once again, however, the network came up empty, and the second pilot ended up on the shelf. Interestingly enough, however, this was not the last time the series would be mentioned in the Hollywood trades. About eight months later, Weekly Variety reported that CBS still thought the core idea of Collector's Item had potential, and was considering filming new episodes:
The question of what to do with shelved pilots again is being bandied around, but this time with a new twist.
If the basic idea is good, why give up the ghost if the execution didn't come off well?...
CBS along with its syndication subsid, is pruning all of the unsold pilots, discarding those which it feels don't have a good basic idea. But those such as "The City" and "Collector's Item," dealing with fraudulent art practices and starring Vincent Price, are being revived. New episodes may be shot on the latter. Reason for the approach is that what are considered basic good ideas for a series aren't too plentiful. Advertisers and agency execs will be urged to give the second tries a fresh look. Plan will be abandoned if the new pilot is met with that "I've seen that one before" comment, when screened along Madison Ave.
--What to Do With Old Pilots, Weekly Variety (September 24, 1958), p.23
There are a few more references to the potential series in late 1958, which indicate that CBS considered producing the series for syndication with a different lead. Ultimately, however, it appears that nothing came of it. As far as I can tell, neither pilot was ever broadcast.
|Poster for Tarzan and the Trappers (1958)|
Tarzan (Pilots: 1957 and 1958)
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan stories have been filmed on many occasions. Relevant to Star Trek is the 1966-68 television series, which featured Nichelle Nichols in two episodes and served as Star Trek's second season lead-in on NBC (to disastrous results; Tarzan went from being a top thirty show in the 1966-67 broadcast season to a cancelled flop in 1967-68). Also relevant: an unmade film version written by Gene Roddenberry in 1968 (the project Roddenberry left the Paramount lot to go work on during Star Trek's third season).
Prior to both those versions, however, producer Sol Lesser twice attempted to bring the character to the small screen with veteran Tarzan actor Gordon Scott. The first attempt was made for NBC in early 1957:
Deal has been finalized for NBC to be partnered with Sol Lesser in his "Tarzan" theatrical films under an agreement concluded with Alan Livingston, the net's program vee-pee in Hollywood. Included in the joint control is "Tarzan and Lost Safari," now being released by Metro, and the library of animal and native tribe footage shot in Africa. Lesser will produce the half-hour "Tarzan" telepix series for NBC, with Laslo Benedek directing the first episode. Lisa Davis has femme lead opposite Gordon Scott.
--NBC, Sol Lesser Partner in "Tarzan," Daily Variety (March 22, 1957), p.16Ultimately, NBC passed on the project, but Lesser was undeterred:
With a "Tarzan" theatrical film now before the cameras, Sol Lesser has reactivated his plans to shoot a vidpix series based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Previously, Lesser filmed a pilot with Gordon Scott and Lisa Davis co-starred but objections and a legal hassle with Commodore Productions at that time curtailed continuation of the "Tarzan" telefilms. Now, however, Lesser is resuming shooting on the "Tarzan" telepix and has already completed filming a second pilot film at Desilu-Culver.
Eve Brent, femme lead of the theatrical version, co-stars with Scott in the televersion. Rickie Sorensen, also in the theatrical film, will recreate his "boy" role in the series.
Pilot, it's understood, is entitled "Tarzan and the Trappers." Latter pic is now in the editing stages and ' will be available for agency screening shortly.
--Lesser's Tarzan Telepix on Again, Weekly Variety (February 19, 1958), p.25Unfortunately for Lesser, Tarzan and the Trappers did not sell. Following a shake-up in leadership at Lesser's company, it was decided to forgo television exploitation of Tarzan altogether:
Lesser had completed a pilot film for the possible introduction of Tarzan as a telepix series. However, after analyzing the costs and market potential, it was considered "complete insanity," according to Howard, to go into TV. Howard's point being that it would be suicide to destroy a property which has grossed some $ 200,000,000 in 40 years. Since 1918, there have been 32 Tarzan films and, according to Howard, there has never been a loss on a Tarzan film. He said the smallest profit has been $ 500,000.
--Untried Blood Guiding New Lesser Co.; More Films, One Message: 'Escapism,' Weekly Variety (July 23, 1958), p.4Tarzan and the Trappers was Sol Lesser's final producing credit. Eventually, it was re-edited and broadcast as a TV movie.
|Still from I Remember Caviar (1959)|
Stars of one of last year's unsold Screen Gems pilots, "I Remember Caviar," reportedly are being recalled to the studio... Although sources at the Columbia vidsubsid will admit only that there is discussion of doing a second pilot of the vehicle, Pat Crowley, who starred in the original, has been paged for the return chore.
--SG 'Caviar' Pilot Stars Recalled To Serve Up Another, Daily Variety (November 5, 1959), p.6Unlike Star Trek, after giving the Pat Crowley-starring series a second chance, NBC passed on the prospective series. Both pilots ended up being broadcast as installments of Alcoa-Goodyear Theater (a popular graveyard for failed pilots, including the Gene Roddenberry scripted 333 Montgomery, which starred DeForest Kelley), one in 1959 and one in 1960.
|Still from Head of the Family (filmed 1958)|
Head of the Family (Pilot: 1958) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (Pilot: 1961)
When Carl Reiner first developed a half-hour sitcom about a television writer and his family, he intended to star in the show himself. Indeed, Reiner starred in a pilot that he wrote, called "Head of the Family," in 1958. Ultimately, however, this pilot did not sell, and it ended up being broadcast on CBS during the summer of 1960:
CBS-TV will inject a dubious element of freshness info three of its summer time slots with series consisting entirely of unsold pilots. Two of them will be devoted fully to comedy pilots-the "Hennessey" replacement Monday at 10 and the Red Skelton slot Tuesday at 9: 30. Third show will consist of dramatic pilots mostly CBS' own, on Fridays at 9...
Comedy lineup includes Carl Reiner in "Head of the Family," which he scripted and starred in and was produced by Peter Lawford...
--Like Old Razor Blades, What Do You Do With Unsold Pilots? CBS Giving ' Em Summer Airing, Weekly Variety (May 25, 1960), p.27Later, with producer Sheldon Leonard, Reiner re-conceived the material for actor Dick Van Dyke. A new pilot episode, "The Sick Boy and the Sitter," was filmed on January 20, 1961. This incarnation picked up a committed sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, and the series (now called The Dick Van Dyke Show) debuted on CBS on October 3, 1961. It lasted for five seasons and 158 episodes.
|Still from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965; broadcast 1966)|
In a few cases, however, one or more of the entities involved (be they the studio, the network, or the sponsor) liked a pilot enough to produce a second or even a third version of the concept. As I have outlined above, this happened at least ten times prior to Star Trek.
Images from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' courtesy of Trek Core.
Special thanks to Neil B. for offering many corrections and suggestions after reading an early version of this post. Any errors that remain are entirely my own.
The Making of Star Trek (Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968)
The Making of Star Trek--The Motion Picture (Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, 1980)
The Star Trek Compendium (Allan Asherman, 1986)
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (1988)
Star Trek Memories (William Shatner with Chris Kreski, 1993)
The Music of Star Trek: Profiles in Style (Jeff Bond, 1999)
Women in Space: Following Valentina (David J. Shayler and Ian Moule, 2005)
Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (Tim Hollis, 2008)
Star Trek 365 (Paula M. Block with Terry J. Erdmann, 2010)
Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise (Mark Clark, Kindle Edition, April 2012)
These Are The Voyages: TOS, Season One (Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn, First Edition, August 2013)