Here’s a rare photo of Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock) in a 1985 lecture appearance at the University of Kentucky. He’s captured saluting the audience with his trademark Vulcan greeting. Included in the photo are ticket stubs to the lecture.
Younger fans may not know that Nimoy had a love/hate relationship with his sci-fi alter ego. He even wrote a book entitled I Am Not Spock in which he related his struggles to be free of his over-successful screen persona. Nimoy wasn’t crazy about the quality of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (mocked as The Motionless Picture), and grudgingly agreed to do another film. As part of his agreement, he forced the producers of the second Trek film—The Wrath of Khan—to kill off Spock at the end of the film. Of course, the producers also ensured that the final sequences of the film were shot in such a way as to leave them an “out” in the event they could sweet-talk Nimoy into a third film (which they did).
Not long after The Wrath of Khan was released, Nimoy came to the forehead-smacking epiphany that he was fortunate enough to have stumbled onto a career that many actors envied (plus the money was good)… and maybe it wasn’t so bad being Mr. Spock after all. So, he signed up for the well-received The Search for Spock(1984), in which Spock was ultimately revived.
Another bit of trivia… the Vulcan salute was an idea Nimoy dreamed up when they were filming the original series episode “Amok Time.” He felt there should be some amount of ritual when Spock meets the revered Vulcan leader T’Pau, and suggested that they exchange a ceremonial greeting. When his idea was accepted, he remembered sneaking a peek at his childhood rabbi blessing the congregation (although he’d been told not to peek), and seeing the rabbi’s hand outstretched in an unusual configuration. From that obscure childhood memory, the Vulcan salute was born.
(Photo by R. Losert.)
[Originally posted in May 2000 at SciFiDimensions.com.]