Enough with the lumps in my throat reading all the tributes to Leonard Nimoy. I feel a need to remember other things about Leonard, like his sense of humor. He liked to laugh and liked to have people laugh with him. Here’s a story we had a lot of laughs over the years.
We were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to give a performance of ‘VINCENT’. Although I never had a problem with setting up and be ready for the evening performance, it was decided to do a partial setup in the evening before and finish up the next day. One reason was a request by the TV station. They wanted to send over a a journalist and camera crew to ask Leonard some questions while the set was being put up. Dennis, the tour manager, asked if we were up to the interview and the set up as background. Leonard and I both agreed that we were up to it.
The ‘journalist’ they sent over was a nice looking girl in her mid twenties or so. Naturally, she was fashionably late. I had a good start on getting the set up by the time she arrived.
She specifically said she wanted us to continue the work. Then she gave orders to the camera crew, who rolled their eyes at this would-be Barbara Walters. She then turned to Leonard and showed him where to stand downstage, explaining the camera would be on her when she asked a question and on him when he answered. She was marking her territory.
It might have been her first rodeo, but it sure wasn’t Leonard’s.
‘Now I have some ground rules,’ Leonard said. ‘You can ask anything you want as long as it concerns VINCENT , the play, the reason we have come to your town. I will also welcome any questions about Van Gogh and his paintings.’ She tried to jump in but Nimoy held up a finger and added, ‘As you know, I have finished work on STAR TREK THE MOVIE, and this is something I will not discuss with you. If you ask me any questions about STAR TREK, the movie or the TV series, the interview is over. Understand? VINCENT’ questions only!
She said she understood and the first question was, ‘When will the STAR TREK movie be released.’
Leonard, being a gentleman, albeit, a gentleman on the verge of ending the interview, again reminded this ‘journalist’ of his ground rules.
She said she understood and asked a question about why he was in Cedar Rapids. Leonard answered. Then as she was asking the next question, she shouted out, ‘Silence! Silence! I’m trying to work here and I can’t have that noise in the background!’
Now, I was trying to be as quiet as I could, but these hands needed me to give them instructions. I looked at Nimoy and shrugged my shoulders.
He asked her if she still wanted the work to be done in the background. She said she did. Leonard than pointed out that she couldn’t have it both ways. The work could not be done in silence. ‘Don has to tell these men what to do,’ he explained to her, ‘And to my knowledge, Don only knows one phrase in sign language; and if you don’t start acting like a professional, I am certain he will soon be flashing that phrase at you.’
She opted for silence and I told the crew to go have coffee.
She started in again, asking not about VINCENT, but STAR TREK THE MOVIE. ‘Is it true what we hear, that Spock dies in the movie?’ The straw that broke etc..
‘You want an exclusive? You want a real exclusive? I’ll give you one!’ He walked right up to the camera and asked the cameraman if he had a lot of film because he didn’t want him to have to reload in the middle of the ‘exclusive’. When he got the okay from the cameraman, he gave her her ‘exclusive’.
“The Enterprise has to land on Earth to get repairs. Spock has time on his hands and wanders around, sight seeing. He finally ends up in a museum. He walks around looking at the paintings. Then he sees a room with nothing but Van Goghs. He is mind- boggled. He had never been so taken by a painting before. He was mesmerized! Mesmerized! The Van Gogh’s had him mesmerized. Finally, he regained his composure and left the museum.
“He goes back to the starship. He gets a knife from the galley. AND HE CUTS OFF ONE OF HIS STUPID F#*@#* EARS!!!”
‘And now you have your exclusive, young lady. The interview is over. I hope to see it on the news tonight.’ Then he hollered to me, ‘Don, I think we did enough work for now. Let’s say we wrap it and go get a drink – or two.’
‘Leonard, you’ve been reading my mind.’
We went back to the hotel. When the news came on, we gathered around the TV to see if there would be any of her interview aired. And there was. They aired her ‘exclusive’ right after she gave the introductory remarks in front of the theater. It was every word that Leonard said in his ‘exclusive’, except they bleeped out that one adjective. Of course, you didn’t have to be an expert lip reader to know what he said that got bleeped out. She even bothered to mention why Leonard was in town and when the play would be performed.
Leonard voiced a concern that he might have cost her her job. She looked as if she believed what he said. The joke seemed to go over her head. We all agreed that he shouldn’t worry about him getting her fired. She would do that herself, if not over her ‘exclusive’, it would be over something else in the future.
Just like Leonard though, worry about her losing her job because of what he did. A good man. And a lot of fun to be around.
Thank you, old friend.