When I was a young child, there were two television shows I was allowed to stay up late and watch with my parents. One was Monty Python, the other was Star Trek. That may explain a few things about me and my sense of humour, come to think of it. As I grew older I became aware of boys and started having crushes on tv characters, like many teenage girls did. But while most of my female acquaintances – at least the ones who admitted to watching Star Trek – fell madly in love with the dashing captain of the USS Enterprise, it was the cool, enigmatic First Officer that captured both my attention and my heart. I, in my girlish daydreams, fantasized that I would be the one to melt that icy exterior. Yeah, I know, get in line. As the years went on, and my teenage crush faded, it was comforting to know that when there was nothing else on I could usually find a Star Trek episode somewhere. I got so I could practically recite the lines with the actors. I got into fandom, and into conventions because of Star Trek; my father took me to my first convention when I was eleven years old (held at the Royal York Hotel in 1976) and after that I never looked back.
Today we lost Leonard Nimoy. He was so much more than just Mr. Spock but, of course, that’s the way he will be forever remembered by many people who may never have known that he did other things. I remember, many, many years ago, my dad showing me a newspaper clipping (which I may still have) describing Mr. Nimoy playing Sherlock Holmes in a stage play in the US – how I would have liked to see that. I remember seeing him on Mission Impossible, after Star Trek was cancelled, playing the ex-magician Paris. I remember watching Zombies of the Stratosphere late at night – or perhaps it was in the wee hours of the morning – in black and white on a flickering television screen. I remember watching a pre-Star Trek Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner acting together in an episode of Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mr. Shatner playing the part of the wide-eyed ingenue to – spoiler alert – Mr. Nimoy’s nasty bad guy. Recently I’ve been watching Fringe on Netflix, having missed it the first time around, and I’ve been enjoying him immensely as the morally ambiguous William Bell. As someone who loves music, I remember his music – from the silly fun of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins to his serious version of Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line.
The thing that I think a lot of people will remember about Leonard Nimoy, aside from Star Trek of course, is how much he loved people and loved his fans. It was evident at cons, and evident in his Twitter conversations. In January of last year he tweeted “Any here want to make me their honorary grandfather consider it done. ” I was one of the thousands upon thousands of fans who rushed to tweeted him back and formalise what we already knew – he was like a part of our family. And, while we knew he was mortal and – more recently – struggling with health issues, he was still so much a presence and so larger than life that we thought he’d always be there. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Goodnight, Grandpa Leonard. Be at rest, be at peace. My world is a slightly dimmer place tonight without you in it.