Tags: Lucille Ball | Desilu Studios | Leonard Nimoy | Gene Roddenberry | Star Trek

A Moment of Silence for 'Mister Spock'

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Friday, 27 Feb 2015 04:57 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It was with a strange sense of melancholy that I received news of Leonard Nimoy’s death, as if I had suddenly been informed of the passing of a childhood friend of whom I had not seen in many years.

For those of us who were nerds before the term became popular, Mr. Nimoy was not just a hero, but an archetypal, cosmic figure. He brilliantly interpreted “Mr. Spock,” the greatest fictional character based on logic since Sherlock Holmes.

If you were a child in the 1950s or early 1960s, you may have been inspired to become a scientist by watching Don Herbert’s television program, “Watch Mr. Wizard” (1951–1965). Starting on September 8, 1966, however, the TV idol of young science aficionados suddenly became Nimoy’s Mr. Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan science officer aboard the starship Enterprise on the TV show “Star Trek” (1966–1969).

Amusingly, some real scientists often forgot the line between fantasy and reality, inviting Nimoy into their laboratories and explaining to him in detail the type of research in which they were engaged. Nimoy, who was an actor, singer, film director, photographer and poet, knew as much about biochemistry and particle physics as he did about the proverbial hole in the ground.

Fortunately, he had a stock response to such technical presentations: “Well, it certainly seems that you are on the right track.” The scientists would then beam with euphoria and enthusiasm, having been practically blessed by their logical, scientific deity.

The TV show “Star Trek,” a mega-cultural phenomenon persisting to this day, might never have been produced if it were not for actress and producer Lucille Ball.

Lucille Ball had gained control of Desilu studios in 1962 when she bought out her ex-husband, Desi Arnaz. In 1964 she decided to move forward on the production of two new TV series — Bruce Geller’s “Mission Impossible,” and producer-writer Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek.” Amazingly, Lucy at first thought that Star Trek was going to be about Hollywood ‘stars’ trekking around the world doing USO shows! Only later did she realize what she had gotten herself into. She nonetheless became intrigued with the show’s concept, despite her Desilu executives’ apprehension over Roddenberry’s pilot script, “The Cage.”

Production began in November of 1964. NBC rejected the resulting pilot, “The Cage,” claiming it was “too cerebral.” Lucy pushed for the production and screening of a second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” — which was accepted. The rest is history.

Many of the actors in the “Star Trek” TV series had fine careers, but they forever had to struggle against the typecasting imposed on them by the “Star Trek” phenomenon. Would you ever have guessed, for example, that George Takei — who appeared as the character of “Sulu” — is also a terrific playwright?

Be that as it may, we all should be thankful we got to experience the thought-provoking tales set before us by Leonard Nimoy and his colleagues. We can only speculate on how they affected the course of everything from millions of individual lives to great historic events. So long, Leonard. And many heartfelt thanks.

Richard Grigonis is an internationally known technology editor and writer. He was executive editor of Technology Management Corporation’s IP Communications Group of magazines from 2006 to 2009. The author of five books on computers and telecom, including the highly influential Computer Telephony Encyclopedia (2000), he was the chief technical editor of Harry Newton's Computer Telephony magazine (later retitled Communications Convergence after its acquisition by Miller Freeman/CMP Media) from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. Read more reports from Richard Grigonis — Click Here Now.

 


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RichardGrigonis
We all should be thankful we got to experience the thought-provoking tales set before us by Leonard Nimoy and his colleagues. We can only speculate on how they affected the course of everything from millions of individual lives to great historic events.
Lucille Ball, Desilu Studios, Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek
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2015-57-27
Friday, 27 Feb 2015 04:57 PM
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