And Bring Him Safe to Shore

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 1134): From Aeschylus twenty-five centuries ago, from Shakespeare four, we have only the scripts. We are told of and may infer about but cannot see their actors. We can with an actor who has left a video record, on film, television.

Making, maintaining, viewing such records calls for higher technology, so subjects not currently popular may be easier neglected and harder retrieved than with books; but a picture can be worth a thousand words. Popularity may be largely a gift to actors who happen to catch the wind; but some are good flyers and soar.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015), like Rod Serling (1924-1975), Rusty Hevelin, and me an Antioch man, made sergeant in the Army, took various parts on TV 1957-1966 – The Untouchables, Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, Gunsmoke – and may have had no thought of greatness when he began in Star Trek. Nor did its network, which cancelled it.

He was two years the Great Paris, a stage magician recruited to the Impossible Missions Force on Mission Impossible (TV 1966-1973) who so knew languages and disguise he took the place of a kabuki artist invited to a Japanese estate – an actor playing an actor playing an actor (“Butterfly”, Season 5, Episode 7). He was Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on stage (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1975), improvising five minutes with the audience about his letter.

But the Space saga flourished, and he was again Mr. Spock the half-Vulcan in eight Star Trek films through 2013, directing two, earning such fame he entitled a memoir I Am Not Spock (1975) and a second I Am Spock (1995). For an actor, and for science fiction, this was a feat.

In 2010 he visited Vulcan, Alberta (pop. 1,800), and helped get its permission to be named the Star Trek Capital of Canada. At his death his rabbi, who knew him as a person, called him generous, humane, courageous. May his memory be for a blessing.


“Heaven help him!” quoth Lars Porsena, / “And bring him safe to shore; / For such a gallant feat of arms / Was never seen before.” – Macaulay, Horatius LXIII (1842)

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