Metcalf was rustling. Hundreds of people murmured as they took their seats. College kids flipped flashcards anxiously as they waited for the action to begin. Snazzily dressed older women shuffled through rows of feet as they moved to their seats. As one man shifted to let one of these fierce senior citizens through, his jacket opened slightly, revealing a light blue shirt carrying an iconic insignia—that of the Star Trek Enterprise. And as the lights dimmed, a name projected on a draw down screen at the front of the room came into focus—Leonard Nimoy.
This Monday, at a little past 6 pm, Leonard Nimoy came to Boston University. He is best known for his portrayal of Spock, the iconic half-human, half-Vulcan crew member from Star Trek‘s Starship Enterprise. Before Mr. Nimoy’s presentation, Mr. John LaRossa, President of the Friends of the Library at Boston University, the group that sponsored the event, came onstage. After a thorough introduction, he announced that Boston University would be receiving Nimoy’s archives.
Mr. Nimoy took the stage to a storm of applause from the audience and gave the large crowd a wry smile before beginning to speak. The topics of his speech ranged from growing up in Boston, to his early career, to his time working on Star Trek, to the many artistic projects he undertook afterwards.
He began his lecture with anecdotes from his life in Boston. He spoke about selling papers in the Boston Common, shouting headlines the day after Pearl Harbor and not knowing why the paper was selling so well that day. He spoke about his parents, Ukrainian immigrants, and the experience of growing up with three generations of his family all living in the same building. Perhaps most significantly, he talked about the experience in theatre as a child. He highlighted one detail in particular, a heavily embroidered curtain that presided over the stage where he participated in shows. “It said, in beautiful Gothic letters, ‘Act well your part. There, all honor lies.’ It had a great impact on me.”
His entire speech was filled with similar stories, some chilling, some laugh out loud funny. A meeting in a taxi with John F. Kennedy, a wry comment about pointed ears from John Wayne. The crowd exploded with excited whispers as he explained how the “live long and prosper” hand gesture came to be, and how the “Vulcan neck pinch” originated.
Some of the anecdotes, and certainly the Star Trek trivia, were expected. Mr. Nimoy himself, however, was a thoroughly unexpected surprise. He was wry, empathetic, and, unlike his Star Trek counterpart, thoroughly human.