Star Trek: 14 Best Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy was best known for his portrayal of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, but there is a lot more to the man than meets the eye. Here are 14 facts about Leonard Nimoy you probably didn’t know.

He Answered Fan Mail With His Family

In the 1960s, no one knew that the Vulcan First Officer would have a massive impact on pop culture. When the original Star Trek series began, Spock became the main reason the show became extremely popular.

As a result, the Nimoy family received a lot of fan mail after the actor’s home address ended up in a magazine. In For The Love of Spock, his son recalls that they would all help him answer the letters—a family effort and a clear example of Nimoy’s dedication to his fans.

He Directed A Successful ’80s Comedy

Leonard Nimoy was inextricably linked to the Star Trek franchise, but he worked on many other projects throughout his career. He appeared in a handful of films, and he directed several others. One of his first directing efforts was 1983’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Nimoy directed the successful sequel Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; this success led to other directing opportunities. In 1987, he directed Three Men and a Baby, which was both financially and critically successful. Nimoy also directed The Good Mother (1990), Funny About Love (1990), and Holy Matrimony (1994). In 1981, he directed the television film, Vincent.

He Once Drove A Taxi For John F. Kennedy

Like many actors who were trying to make their mark in the industry, Leonard Nimoy worked a day job to make ends meet. The actor, who would later play Mr. Spock on “Star Trek”, found himself working nights as a cab driver while auditioning during the day.

“I drove a taxi at night so that I could be available for auditions during the day. One night I picked up Jack Kennedy at the Bel Air Hotel. Yes, that Jack Kennedy. Senator from Massachusetts at the time and future president. We chatted about careers – politics and show business – and we agreed that both had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common. He said, “Lots of competition in your business, just like in mine,” And then he gave me this. “Just remember there’s always room for one more good one.” Words to live by, and I did.

He Slept In His Dressing Room In-Between Jobs

Nimoy was afraid of running out of money like other actors who appeared on popular TV shows did. So he accepted paid appearances while working on Star Trek. Nimoy traveled back and forth from the West Coast to the East Coast, spending some nights sleeping on his dressing room couch before he could start another day of work on the show. If you want to learn more about Nimoy’s dedication, check out “For The Love Of Spock”.

He Sued Paramount (And Won)

While the original television series featured many jokes, Leonard Nimoy’s lawsuit was serious. Even though the actor was with the show for years, he sued Paramount as they were using his images for years without paying his fair share. The studio eventually settled with Nimoy, allowing him to appear in their first film in the franchise and share in the profits.

He Released Several Musical Albums

Leonard Nimoy was never shy about expressing his artistic side. He did not limit himself to acting, but also explored other artistic endeavors. That led to the release of albums such as Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy and The Way I Feel. Not only did he write and sing songs, but he also featured in the hilarious music video of his most famous song, The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.

He Fought For His Co-Stars To Be Part Of The Animated Series

When he wasn’t playing the logical alien on the screen, Leonard Nimoy was a moral compass for his cast and crew. In 1973, after the original series wrapped, Nimoy and a few other members were invited to voice their characters in “The Animated Series.” But Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were not. To see equal representation on television, Nimoy refused to do Spock until Nichols and Takei were hired along with him. A true friend offset, Nimoy’s character would be memorialized forever by his friends when they initiated the “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture.

He Suffered From Alcoholism

Actor Leonard Nimoy was incredibly successful in his field, but he struggled with addiction issues. He worked long hours during the production of Star Trek, leaving him stressed and sometimes looking for a way to relax. His drinking began on set, where he would drink after work to relieve the stress. In a 2001 interview, he revealed that “The minute we finished the last shot, I would have a drink. Then it became a series of drinks… Before I knew it, I was drinking more and more because my addictive personality was taking over.” He sought help and entered rehab, which helped him remain sober for decades.

He Had A Tenuous Relationship With William Shatner

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were friendly rivals. According to their contract, they had equal time and billing in every Star Trek property they appeared in or worked on. Shatner never shied away from getting a little revenge on Nimoy, and over the course of the original Star Trek series’ run, he did a lot to annoy Nimoy.

There are numerous stories of the pranks that Shatner played on Nimoy throughout the years, including one incident where he took Nimoy’s bike so he couldn’t get to the commissary before the rest of the cast. Another occurred long after the series ended when, at a convention, Shatner made a surreptitious recording of Nimoy without his permission. He used that footage for a film he was working on, which ultimately led to Nimoy refusing to speak to his former co-star.

He Fought For Pay Equity On Behalf Of Nichelle Nichols

The Original Series of Star Trek pushed anti-war plots during the Vietnam War, featured diverse casts, and included mini-skirt costumes. Despite the gender equality in space, actress Nichelle Nichols was paid less than her male co-stars.

Leonard Nimoy declared that he disagreed with the wage disparity for women in the cast of his hit TV series, Star Trek. According to Walter Koenig, when Nimoy learned about this injustice, he used his influence to get it corrected. Like Spock would agree, gender equality is a matter of logic—and Nimoy fought for it.

His Sex Appeal Directly Affected Scenes In ‘Star Trek’

Leonard Nimoy played a compelling character on Star Trek, and this was primarily due to his expertise. Of course, there was another reason people enjoyed watching Spock, and that had a lot to do with Nimoy’s sex appeal. Allegedly, he once received 2,700 pieces of fan mail each week and most of them were female letters.

In response to the popularity of Spock, Star Trek made some changes in how it filmed its episodes. Because of the character’s popularity, he was given more away missions to beam down with Captain Kirk and a few Redshirts in most episodes. Though initially intended only for the Science Officer to take part in that many away missions, the fan response prompted the change.

He Wrote Poetry

Throughout his career, Leonard Nimoy played several roles. Besides acting, music, directing, and photography, he was also a poet. In his last tweet, Nimoy shared this poetic message: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”.

People Thought He Was A Legit Scientist

As Mr. Spock, actor Leonard Nimoy portrayed a scientist in the TV series Star Trek. He often met other scientists and researchers who invited him to tour their labs or explain their projects as if he were their peer. He had no idea what they were talking about, but always responded with something like, “Well, it certainly looks like you’re headed in the right direction.”

People Thought He Was A Legit Scientist

If we think back to the character of Spock, it’s hard to imagine him being played any differently than Leonard Nimoy did. Among contributions like playing the Vulcan restrained and using a Jewish symbol as the most memorable salute in the franchise, the actor also invented the Vulcan nerve pinch.

In an interview, Leonard Nimoy explained that in one particular episode, Spock was to hit the villain on the head with his phaser. However, he felt that this was too Western. He then reminded the director that Spock was an alien, so there were no limits as to what Spock might do. He suggested a Vulcan neck pinch for the attack. This explanation demonstrates how well Nimoy understood and brought depth to the portrayal of Spock.

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