DCC 2011: Leonard Nimoy Divulges Vulcan Secrets And Takes A Walk Down Memory Lane:
Over ten thousand people attended this past weekend’s Dallac Comic Con.
Arguably one of the biggest draws was the appearance of Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy And he didn’t just merely come to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Nimoy had prepared a special presentation for DCC attendees… well, the lucky ones that got into the Main Stage Ballroom, that is!
AS DCC was one of the last conventions Nimoy planned to attend, he put together a retrospective presentation. He decided to do this in lieu of a traditional Q&A session and I must say that it was most fascinating to hear Nimoy lead us down his own memory lane and give us insight into his life as an actor, photographer, and as Spock.
But before the journey back in time began, Nimoy took care of business with addressing a few questions he knew many wanted an answer to:
There are “no plans at the moment” for a return to Fox's Fringe as William Bell.
Nimoy thought Anna Torv’s impression of him on Fringe was “excellent.”
Yes, it is true that he is doing the voice of Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
He followed this with a presentation of stories and pictures. Leonard Nimoy took the audience from his childhood in Boston to becoming an actor in California on the road to Star Trek. Here are a few highlights into his presentation:
Nimoy opened his retrospective with a humerous observation he’s tweeted before:
“My folks came to US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.”
When Star Trek started in 1966, he admits that he hadn’t made any plans to change his life. He had no idea how Spock would impact his life.
He recounts how he decided to give a talk at a college in a small town and being surprised by a screaming phone call from a female fan who had tracked him down and had called him from a completely different state.
Nimoy showed a picture of the immigrant neighborhood he grew up in. He began acting at the age of eight and cast in a play Awake and Sing as a teen. The play was about a Jewish family living in New York with three generations under one roof. He really identified with his character’s background and his struggle to find out who he’s supposed to be in life. It was this experience that made his decision to become an actor.
His parents were Russian immigrants and did not come to America so their children could become actors. Leonard’s older brother went on to have a career in science. “My brain didn’t work that way.” His father was a barber. “I told my Dad I’m going to be an actor. He said I’d be palling with gypsies and vagabonds (which actually sounded interesting to Leonard.) He told me to learn to play accordion…I never did!!”
Nimoy recalls the words on the bottom of a stage curtain of Awake and Sing: “Act well your part. There your honor lies.” He ties this theme of honor with a beautiful quote on honor in the St. Crispin’s Day speech by Laurence Olivier as King Henry V.
(Beginning of this speech is what Nimoy refers to.)
At one point during the presentation, the slideshow had skipped ahead and Nimoy chastised the Computer for getting ahead of him.
He left Boston for Hollywood and within a year, he found himself acting in a film. This is a pic from Zombies in the Stratosphere in 1952. (Nimoy on left.) This was followed by The Brain Eaters.
Nimoy has also sold life insurance, freezers, worked in a pet shop, driven a taxi, and went into the Army for two years. He came out of the Army married with one child and another on the way.
In 1956, Nimoy picked up Jack Kennedy in his taxi cab and something Kennedy said stayed with him, “There’s room for one more good one.”
Leonard gradually learned how to build a career out of acting, adding Westerns like Gunsmoke and Rawhide under his belt. He shared a humerous poster of Star Trek actors who also appeared in Westerns.
[Star Trek The Motion Picture: Robert Wise directing, Gene Roddenberry producing, Spock, Kirk and McCoy standing by.]
Gene Roddenberry wanted Nimoy for a role. This character Roddenberry had in mind for Nimoy had internal conflict and pointed ears. He took the role of Spock and loved it.
He shared an anecdote about how the Vulcan nerve pinch was invented. In a Jekyll and Hyde-themed episode of Star Trek, Kirk was split into two Kirks by way of a malfunction of the transporter. Nimoy thought that Spock would not merely punch the evil Kirk out to save the other Kirk so Spock would simply use his knowledge of human anatomy and apply pressure to a point at the neck and cause Kirk to pass out.
Nimoy also had a hand in inventing Vulcan mannerisms like the hand gesture for greeting. He reached back into this Jewish heritage and referenced a blessing where a hand gesture is used while shouting the blessing under the cover of a blanket. (This is a pic of Nimoy demonstrating the gesture.
Star Trek was canceled after two seasons. He was not upset by the cancellation. He was proud of the work he had done with the show. [The below picture was taken on the bridge set. The make-up department had put pointed ears on his son, Adam, as a surprise.]
He played many dictators of various ethnicities in the following years and considered changing careers to his other love, photography. Nimoy attended UCLA for fine art photography which he later found out that that kind of photography translated to not money-making photography so he stuck to acting.
He shows us this photo he had taken of his parents that captured their attitudes about life – his mother always being curious and his father walked on.
His most current photography project is Secret Selves (below), delving into a playful look at the secret selves of everyday people.
In following years, Nimoy acted in Fiddler on the Roof, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Equus on Broadway. He also wrote a book called, I am not Spock.
Then Star Wars premiered in 1977 which also reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise.
Nimoy directed the third and fourth Star Trek movies and also 3 Men and A Baby.
The crowd wanted more, but time was short. Nimoy concluded with the sentiment that all he ever wanted to do was to make a living as an actor, but “popularity is the crumbs of greatness.” He closes with the following poem.
Needless to say, Nimoy gets a standing ovation both upon arrival and departure. I hope he really feels the love of his fans. If the lines wrapping around the building to get into Dallas Comic-Con that Saturday were any indication, his place in sci-fi history is solidified by Star Trek adoration! Nimoy’s presentation was a mere forty-five minutes, but I must say that it felt like sharing in a part of sci-fi history.