Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015.
Like most people, I was saddened to hear that Leonard Nimoy had died on Feb. 27 at age 83.
I was very much a Star Trek fan growing up, watching the show every Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t necessarily have a favorite character among the crew, but I suspect the reason I watched In Search Of... in the late 1970s had more to do with the fact that Nimoy hosted the show than because of the subject matter.
In 1975, Nimoy published his autobiography, I Am Not Spock. In 1984, I found it at the library. After reading the book, I wrote him a letter (specifically about an incident he recounted in the book). In response, I received the photo shown above on Christmas Eve that year.
(Apparently, a lot of people were upset by I Am Not Spock, even though on the back cover Nimoy asks the very, um, logical question, “If I am not Spock, who is?” He subsequently published I Am Spock in 1995. Both are good reads.)
Although I saw Nimoy at a convention in 1989, I never had an opportunity to speak with him. I’m sure he would have been an engaging conversationalist.
This past weekend, as a sort of “tribute” to Nimoy, I watched a DVD of one of his performances. No, not a Star Trek episode (that seemed a bit too obvious a choice). Instead, I watched the Columbo episode he guest starred in, “A Stitch in Crime.”
Nimoy was much more than the character of Spock, however “fascinating” that character may have been to so many people. He was also a writer, producer, director and photographer. In recent years, he played William Bell on Fringe and and was the subject of a documentary called Leonard Nimoy’s Boston.
Like I said, I never met Nimoy, but unlike Spock he had a sense of humor (check out his car commercial with Zachary Quinto for one example). If I had met him at a convention or some other such public venue, I might have worked up the courage to ask him to read aloud this brief piece I wrote (I’d like to think he’d have gotten a chuckle (or a groan) out of it):
“Manny, Hugh and Juan are students in a media studies class. Each student has to bring in a guest speaker from the world of TV or films as part of his or her thesis project. A big part. It’s 40 percent of the grade.
“Each contacts Leonard Nimoy and ask him to be their speaker. Nimoy can only accommodate one of them and chooses Manny.
“Because, to paraphrase Spock, the needs of Manny outweigh the needs of Hugh, or Juan.”
Nimoy was the only actor who appeared in the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”, to be carried over to the TV series. The reason for that series’ resonance in popular culture has been discussed and debated for decades. No doubt the chemistry of the actors had a lot to do with it, but I think Nimoy’s performance played a key role. Had some other actor been cast as Spock, I doubt the series would have had the same impact.
Again, Star Trek was just one part of Nimoy’s life. He made an impact above and beyond the character of Spock and the world is lucky to have had him in it.
Copyright 2015 Patrick Keating.