The Day I Met Leonard Nimoy

leonardprogram

Last week, I was deeply saddened to hear of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. Ever since I discovered the original Star Trek series when I was in 4th grade in the early 1970s, I have found his varied and illustrious career “fascinating” (as a certain alter ego might say.) As a kid, my friends and I spent many hours transforming my bedroom into the Enterprise, and building models of ST spaceships, phasers, communicators and tricorders. I knew what the acronym IDIC stood for, and even got a kick out of Nimoy’s and Shatner’s infamous “Golden Throats” recordings. Later, I eagerly followed Nimoy’s career as a hosted “In Search Of…” and appeared in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and directed a bunch of entertaining movies, Trek-related and otherwise.

In March 1980, I had the delightful pleasure of meeting a mustachioed Leonard Nimoy in person. Even though my home was in Buffalo, NY, I was living in Athens, Georgia at the time because my father was on sabbatical at the University of Georgia. My parents had read that  Nimoy would be appearing in Vincent, a one-man show about Vincent van Gogh in Atlanta, and eagerly got our family tickets! Several weeks before seeing the play, I decided to write him a fan letter. My Grandpa Milton was always writing letters to people he admired and frequently got replies. So what did I have to lose? In my letter to Nimoy, I gushed about my admiration for his work, shared that we both were born in the Boston area, and even composed a limerick in his honor (which I still remember by heart):

An actor named Leonard Nimoy

Is as famous as Helen of Troy.

This time, he appears

Without pointed ears,

The image of Spock to destroy.

I also send him a picture of my 16-year-old self, and told him I couldn’t wait to see his play (and I happened to mention the matinee I’d be attending.) The day of the show, my family and I were milling about the lobby, waiting to enter the theater. The house manager walked up to me and said, “Are you Jordan Brown?” When I confirmed I was, he said, “Oh, good. Mr. Nimoy would like to meet you after the show.”

I was stunned and delighted. As promised, I went backstage after the performance, and was escorted to Nimoy’s dressing room. I mentioned to him that I was thinking of becoming an actor, and that I was visiting Georgia for the year because of my father’s sabbatical. He asked what my father taught, and I said, “mathematics.” Nimoy replied with a smile, “Oh, that should be very helpful for your acting career.” I can’t recall much of our conversation but I did get his autograph (see below), and continued to admire him for the rest of his life and career.

 

LNautograph

 

paper airplane and crumbs