by Robert Gillis 2/2015
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Leonard Nimoy. The man from Boston who did so well for himself as an actor, poet, writer, director, photographer, has passed on. He was a role model and inspiration for so many.
Although not recently, I attended MANY Star Trek conventions in the 1980s and early 1990s and saw him speak twice. He was always a gentlemen, always graceful, always so engaging, so grateful, always had so much to say. And unlike his TV counterpart with the pointed ears, he was a very funny man with a marvelous sense of humor.
In 1987, I attended a marvelous convention and was in the audience as Leonard spoke. I remember the flashbulbs were blinding –especially whenever he gave the Vulcan salute.
He said that instead of doing his usual act he’d like to just talk about Boston for a while and “ramble.” He recalled the place where he grew up, and some fond memories like selling papers. I really identified with him when he said, “One thing about selling papers in Boston, it teaches you character!”
As a Boston Globe seller for three years, I agreed with that!
At that time, Nimoy had recently returned from Russia and the premiere of Star Trek IV. The trip was to celebrate the fact that the country has signed an agreement banning all whaling. While in Russia Nimoy was able to visit the place where his parents grew up. This brought him to the subject of his father. Sadly, at that time his father had passed away just a few weeks before.
Nimoy filled up and was silent for a moment. We all were silent with him. We could feel his sadness.
Then, to change the mood he said, “So, what about this Star Trek thing?” We all laughed, and Nimoy talked in great detail about “The Voyage Home” and the complicated special effects with the whales. Some of his stories I’d heard before, like the genesis of the Vulcan nerve pinch, and the hand salute story.
I remember how engaging he was.
And my Mom, Sue and I saw Shatner and Nimoy during their “tour” of 1991 — my Mom saved us FRONT ROW seats! Shatner and Nimoy — obviously VERY good friends, were wonderful together and in their solo acts — it was so great to see these legends up close. See, after their initial rivalry on the TV show ended, he and William Shatner became best friends for next five decades. I mourn with Bill tonight.
Nimoy famously tried to initially distance himself from the Spock character but came around and returned in 1979 for ST:TMP. And on Star Trek II, in which Spock dies, he famously told producer Harve Bennet how much fun he was having, and that he couldn’t wait for part III — which sent Bennet into a tailspin, rewriting a scene or three to leave some plot threads to bring Spock back (“Remember”).
He was much more than Star Trek, appearing in countless TV shows, movies, plays… He loved being an actor. It showed.
He became one of the main keepers of the franchise when he directed Star Trek III and IV (which he co-wrote) and then Star Trek IV (whose story he also co-wrote). The producers of Star Trek (2009) all said that if Leonard Nimoy had said no to appearing, they couldn’t make the film — it HAD to be Leonard Nimoy playing Spock. I have never heard a co-star say anything bad about him — he got along famously with the Trek cast and was considered one of the nicest people in Hollywood. Celebrity and fame never went to his head.
He directed films with finesse and a signature style. “Three Men and A Baby” is still one his masterpieces.
I highly recommend his autobiography, “I am Spock” (1995) to learn more about this incredible man. It is a remarkable book filled with honesty and a live very well lived.
Leonard Nimoy, you were a gem who made huge difference in the world and we will miss you — I am grateful that you lived to be 83, and you did indeed, “live long and prosper.”
Rest in peace, dear Leonard Nimoy.