Richest BusinessProducers
Net Worth:
$500 Million
Aug 19, 1921 - Oct 24, 1991 (70 years old)
El Paso
6 ft (1.85 m)
Television producer, Writer, Actor, Futurist, Pilot, Screenwriter, Police officer, Film Producer
United States of America
💰 Compare Gene Roddenberry's Net Worth

What was Gene Roddenberry's Net Worth?

Gene Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and futurist who had a net worth equal to $500 million at the time of his death. That amount, which is after adjusting for inflation, includes the estimated value of the future rights and intellectual property value (merchandise, licensing) of the "Star Trek" franchise. That franchise which would go on to generate billions of dollars in royalties and box office receipts after Gene's death.

Gene Roddenberry was best known as the creator of the "Star Trek" franchise, which began in 1966 on NBC. Before that, he wrote scripts for several shows, including "Highway Patrol" and "Have Gun – Will Travel," and created the show "The Lieutenant." Roddenberry remained involved with the "Star Trek" media franchise until his passing in 1991. On September 4, 1986, Roddenberry became the first writer/producer to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1990, he was honored with the Jack Benny Memorial Award of lifetime achievement by the March of Dimes. Roddenberry died from a cardiopulmonary arrest on October 24, 1991. His widow Majel Barrett died on December 18, 2008. Upon her death, portions of Gene and Majel's cremated remains were launched into space as part of a NASA mission.


At the time of his death, Gene Roddenberry's liquid estate (real estate, financial accounts, short-term assets) was worth $30 million. That's the same as around $60 million after adjusting for inflation today.

Gene was married twice. His first marriage, to Eileen-Anita Rexroat, lasted from 1942 to 1969. His second marriage, to Majel Barrett, lasted from 1969 until his death. According to the terms of his will, the majority of his estate was left to Majel Barrett. He also left a share of his trust and $500,000 to each of his children. Several legal battles would eventually reveal that Gene had hidden a portion of Star Trek's rights in a separate trust which benefited his first wife. A Los Angeles court eventually overturned his first wife Eileen's claims to 50% of his assets. One of his children, a daughter Dawn, lost $500,000 when she contested the trust.

Early Life

Eugene Wesley Roddenberry was born on August 19, 1921 in El Paso, Texas as the first child of Caroline and Eugene. As a baby, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where his father was given a police commission. In LA, Roddenberry attended Los Angeles City College as a young adult, majoring in political science and developing an interest in aeronautical engineering.

Military Service

After obtaining a pilot's license through the Civilian Pilot Training Program, Roddenberry enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in late 1941, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He graduated in the summer of 1942 as a second lieutenant. Roddenberry was subsequently stationed in Hawaii with the Thirteenth Air Force. In 1943, the plane he was piloting overshot the runway and killed two men; although he was absolved of responsibility, Roddenberry was sent back to the United States to spend the rest of his military career. He went on to fly all over the country as a plane crash investigator.

Pan Am and LAPD

Following his military service, Roddenberry flew for Pan American World Airways. In 1947, he was involved in his third plane crash, which occurred over the Syrian Desert and killed about 14 people. Roddenberry left Pan Am in the spring of 1948. Early the next year, he applied for a position with the Los Angeles Police Department, and was assigned to the traffic division. After 16 months in that role, he was transferred to the newspaper unit. Roddenberry soon became the speech writer for the chief of police, as well as the LAPD liaison for the television series "Dragnet."

Early Television Career

Roddenberry did his first writing for television while working as the LAPD liaison for "Dragnet." He subsequently served as a technical advisor and scriptwriter for the show "Mr. District Attorney." Roddenberry also wrote scripts for the series "Highway Patrol," "The West Point Story," "Bat Masterson," and "Jefferson Drum," among many others. Meanwhile, for his episode of "Have Gun – Will Travel" in 1958, he won the Writers Guild of America award for Best Teleplay.

After creating a series of failed pilots, Roddenberry finally had success as a television creator with the series "The Lieutenant," which premiered on NBC in 1963. The show featured several cast and crew members who would later reunited with Roddenberry on "Star Trek," including Gene L. Coon, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and Gary Lockwood. Ultimately, despite its early success, "The Lieutenant" ended in 1964 after a single season.

Star Trek

In the early 60s, Roddenberry came up with the idea of a multiethnic crew on a traveling airship, a concept based on the film "Master of the World." Deciding to render the idea as science-fiction, he put together a pitch in 1964 that he sent to the Writers Guild of America; it was called "Star Trek," and it would tell the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise.

He shopped the series around and eventually signed a three-year development deal with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's Deislu Productions. Lucille Ball, the head of Desilu, did not understand the script but was instrumental in getting the pilot shot. They ended up making a second pilot which introduced many of the characters we know and love today, including William Shatner's Captain Kirk.

After viewing the pilots, NBC agreed to a 6-episode commitment. NBC eventually expanded their order to 16 episodes. The show premiered on September 8, 1966 with the episode "The Man Trap." The series was eventually renewed for two more seasons, despite flagging ratings. It was ultimately canceled in early 1969, just over a month before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. Roddenberry went on to declare that he would never write for television again. In total, "Star Trek" aired 79 episodes over three seasons.

Through syndication in the 70s, "Star Trek" grew into a cult hit. As its popularity rose around the world over the ensuing decades, it spawned a major media franchise consisting of numerous television series, feature films, books, games, and more. Roddenberry was involved with the franchise until his passing, working on "Star Trek: The Animated Series," "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" aired 178 episodes over seven seasons. The series also became on of the most valuable syndicated shows in the history of television, airing in dozens of countries and languages multiple days every day even decades after debuting. Gene was paid $1 million up front to create and produce the series, in addition to earning a hefty salary for its ongoing success.

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Other Projects

After the end of the first "Star Trek" series, Roddenberry wrote and produced the 1971 sexploitation film "Pretty Maids All in a Row." Meanwhile, he supported himself financially by giving presentations at colleges and science-fiction conventions. In 1973, Roddenberry created the television film "Genesis II," and the year after that created the series "The Questor Tapes." He also created "Planet Earth," a reworking of "Genesis II." Later in the decade, Roddenberry produced the British television film "Spectre."

Personal Life and Death

In 1942, Roddenberry married Eileen-Anita Rexroat, whom he had met in college. They had two daughters named Darleen and Dawn. While married, Roddenberry had affairs with many women, including LAPD secretaries and his future "Star Trek" actors Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett. After divorcing Rexroat in 1969, he married Barrett, with whom he had a son named Rod Roddenberry. Starting in 1975, Roddenberry carried out an extramarital affair with his executive assistant Susan Sackett.

Due to his longterm use of an assortment of illicit drugs, including various sedatives and stimulants, Roddenberry was afflicted with many health problems throughout the 1980s. These were compounded by his high blood pressure and diabetes. After suffering a stroke in 1989, his health declined further, and in 1991 his right arm was paralyzed after another stroke. While attending a doctor's appointment in October of 1991, he died of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 70 years old.

In 1992, some of Roddenberry's ashes were sent into space before returning to Earth on the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-52.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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