Since we lost Leonard Nimoy this past February, I have been thinking a great deal about his legacy and the special place he holds in my memory for many reasons. Leonard’s death came as a shock to me even though I knew he had been in ill health for some time. You see, I grew up with all of these people from the original Star Trek cast. To me, they were timeless. At first, they were just my heroes, but after founding the Official Star Trek Fan Club and the Star Trek Communicator magazine I was privileged to get to know all of them as friends. I just assumed they would always be there… so when we lost Gene Roddenberry, Mark Lenard, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Majel Barrett and, now, Leonard, each time I had to wrap my head around the fact that they were no longer with us and that I would not see and speak with them again.
That began a 35-year friendship that I am truly grateful for. Whenever he had the chance Leonard gave me a helping hand. Whether it was mentioning my fan club on Larry King Live or inviting me to his Star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or always responding when I asked for an interview, he was always there. I ran into him over the years many times at conventions and was always given a warm smile, a firm handshake and extra time to chat and catch up. My last interview with Leonard was in 2009 after the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek had been released. As usual, we talked for close to two hours and discussed so many memories of Star Trek and where it was headed at that time. With regards to Zachary Quinto taking over the role of Spock, he told me, “Having had this movie and this experience as Spock and seeing Zachary Quinto in the role now, I feel the character has a potentially wonderful, new life and certainly the success of the movie is just so terrific! It is so wonderful to see this happen and to see Star Trek have a chance of a reinvention and a revival. “
Realizing the worldwide impact of Star Trek after living with it myself for most of life, I said that “It must give you a sense of pride to know you were the first to introduce the Vulcan hand sign and that, now, you can do that sign all over the world and most people know it as coming from Star Trek and it is a greeting of peace?” “Yes, it is,” he said with obvious pride. “It is in the culture now. It is great. I get it from kids, I get it from bus drivers, I get it from police, and I get it from waiters in restaurants. It is great and I love it!”
One thing I was particularly interested in at the time was asking Leonard if the last line he spoke in the first Abrams film, “Thrusters on full,” was a symbolic passing of the torch? He responded, “I am so delighted you are asking me this question. No one has asked me it before. That line was not in the script. We had shot the scene and were done with it and I said to J.J., ‘If you give me one more take, I have a thought I would like to inject here and see if you like it.’ We shot it again and I said, ‘Thrusters on full.’ It was kind of a blessing and a passing of the torch. It was an absolutely on-the-spot idea I came up with and it was not in the script. Then J.J. called me sometime later and said that he was amazed at how it fit into the next scene on the bridge because then they start talking about the thrusters! So there was a connection almost as if it had been designed that way. I wasn’t thinking about the bridge scene, I was simply thinking about saying to these young guys, ‘Go ahead. Take the torch and go!’”
And now, today, I have come to that realization that things do indeed change and life goes on. Different adventures with a new Spock and a new Star Trek crew will continue with Zachary Quinto and the gang, and the character will live on through who knows how many more films, television series and other actors reinterpreting and imitating the brilliant original performance of Leonard Nimoy. His last tweet, incredibly poignant and profound, said it all, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.” What amazing and powerful Star Trek memories Leonard Nimoy has given us to last our lifetimes and for those yet to be born.
Dan Madsen is the former founder, president and publisher of the Official Star Trek Fan Club and Official Star Trek Communicator magazine. He is now publicist for actress Ashley Eckstein’s company, Her Universe, which produces fashionable, female-focused apparel for Sci-Fi fans.
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