As far as sci-fi icons go, is there anyone more beloved than Leonard Nimoy? Nimoy was truly a jack of all trades, prioritizing acting, but also dabbling in poetry, music and even exotic pets. With a quirky sense of humor and an aversion to taking himself too seriously, Nimoy was a favorite among Star Trek fans.
Though he is unfortunately no longer with us, Nimoy was born on this day in 1931. Let's take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about him.
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He started off with a pretty decent salary
Nimoy made $1,250 per episode of Star Trek in the beginning. While this doesn’t seem like a particularly hefty salary for a TV star these days, adjusted for inflation, that’s almost $10,000 in today’s world.
Nimoy was a poet
In addition to his two autobiographies, he wrote seven books of poetry. Some of these books included his photography as well. If that isn’t enough to prove that Nimoy was truly a jack of all trades, he also adapted and performed in a one-man play called Vincent, based on the play Van Gogh, in 1981. He even had an Etsy store!
He took a lot of odd jobs
While we all know him as one of the most iconic TV characters, Nimoy actually worked a lot of jobs before he started acting and in between gigs. According to Trek News, a few of these jobs included selling vacuum cleaners and freezers, working at a pet store and an ice cream parlor, driving a taxi, servicing vending machines, managing an apartment building, and installing and servicing fish tanks. He even opened his own short-lived pet shop, Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad.
That Vulcan salute was all him
What went on to become one of the most recognizable pop culture references wasn’t actually written into the show. In the second season premiere, Nimoy tossed the Vulcan salute in, and it became a thing.
He became Spock for a while
Star Trek filming schedules were grueling, and he would be in character almost six days a week. Nimoy has said that during filming, he’d find himself acting like Spock, more logical and less emotional, even when the cameras weren’t rolling. He said that this Vulcan way of life, including speech patterns, were present in his own life for years after Star Trek ended.
Shatner helped him develop Spock
According to the Archive of American Television, Nimoy said that the biggest direction he got in developing Spock’s persona was from director Joseph Sargeant, saying, "Be different. Be the scientist. Be detached. See it as something that’s a curiosity rather than a threat." However, when “The Cage” was filmed, Nimoy had to play Spock up a bit, since Pike’s character was so quiet. One William Shatner was on board, playing opposite him, he was able to give Spock his real persona.
He took his record deal seriously
Some may have thought his foray into music was a publicity stunt, but he really sold that 1967 record, Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space. According to Variety, Nimoy performed at state fairs and amusement parks promoting the album, and made plenty of TV appearances. Nimoy was also one of the first guests on Malibu U and Dick Clark’s Happenings ’68. He went on to release four more albums.
Nimoy sought treatment for addiction
In 2001, Nimoy revealed that he had developed an alcohol addiction while he was filming Star Trek and entered rehab after it ended. Nimoy reached out and tried to help Shatner’s wife, Nerine Kidd, who was also an alcoholic in the late ‘90s as well, according to Shatner’s autobiography, Up Till Now.
He broke his nose filming 'Star Trek' in 2009
"When you’ve wounded Spock, you just want to kill yourself," director JJ Abrams said in the documentary For the Love of Spock. Abrams didn’t say what scene they were filming, or how the injury happened, but he did say that while he and the production team tried to figure out how to keep filming, Nimoy insisted on finishing up the day.
Image: Paramount Pictures