EXCLUSIVE: Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock came from two different planets but William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy bonded over Star Trek slights, anti-Semitic slurs, bad marriages - until their final falling outThe USS Enterprise captain writes about relationship with his poker-faced first officer in a memoir honoring the first anniversary of Nimoy deathNimoy was driving a taxi in Los Angeles when then Senator John F. Kennedy tried to stiff him for the $1.25 fareWhen tapped for the role of Spock, the actor wasn't comfortable with his 'Dumbo ears' but Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry insisted Nimoy created the Vulcan salute - inspired by his synagogue congregation forming the shape of the Hebrew letter 'shin' to hide their eyesShatner admits he was jealous when Spock became the most important character and received the most fan mail Nimoy was a functioning alcoholic who would have his assistant sneak him drinks in a paper cupHe stopped speaking to Shatner a few years before he died. 'It is something I will wonder about and regret forever,' Shatner writes
They came from two different worlds – Planet Earth and Planet Vulcan – but Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock had much in common:
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, stars of the low-budget 1960s sci-fi series, Star Trek, that ran for seventy-nine episodes over three years, became best of friends. It was a friendship that endured for fifty years - but sadly not until death.
The Captain of the USS Enterprise and his trusty first officer, were both born in March 1931, raised in lower-middle class Orthodox Jewish immigrant families and 'came from the same tribe'.
While Shatner was from the West End of Montreal and Leonard was from Boston's West End, both grew up in kosher homes and were victims of anti-Semitism.
Neither were good students and both had the dream to pursue acting.
They worked small jobs until they found their way into acting classes and eventually defied their fathers to pursue that dream that evolved into successful acting careers and a close friendship.
Better together: The USS Enterprise captain writes about his personal relationship with poker-faced first officer in Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With A Remarkable Man. They went through marriages and divorces together, they fought the movie studio together and got tinnitus together standing too close to explosions on a Star Trek set.
Cutting up: Nimoy puts a new spin on his famous Vulcan neck pinch at a signing for 'Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime.'
The stars are born: Nimoy and Shatner in a scene from 'The Man Trap,' the premiere episode of Star Trek, which aired on September 8, 1966
THE STAR TREK PHENOMENON Star Trek: The Original Series, created by Gene Roddenberry and starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons until 1969 on NBC.Star Trek: The Animated Series ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974Star Trek: The Next Generation starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Lu Picard ran from 1987 to 1994.Star Trek: Deep Space Nine starred Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Sesco and aired from 1993 to 1999.Star Trek: Voyager introduced Kate Mulgre as Captain Kathryn Janeway. It aired from 1995 until 2001.Star Trek: Enterprise is a prequel to the original series, It starred Scott Bakula is CaptainJonathan Archer and ran from 2001 to 2005.A new Star Trek TV series is in development scheduled to premier in 2017.Paramount Pictures produced twelve Star Trek movies beginning in 1979. The first six continued the adventures of the original TV series and starred Shatner and Nimoy. Shatner appeared in the seventh film Star Trek: Generations and Nimoy had a cameo role in the eleventh and twelfth films as an elderly Spock. Star Trek: Beyond will be released in theatres on July 22 of this year, starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachery Quinto as Spock - the pair's third turn in the sci-fi classic.
The actors actually met in 1964 during the American spy television show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But neither recalled the meeting.
In late 1965, when Shatner and Nimoy met on the set of the pilot for Star Trek, Shatner recalls 'I doubt either Leonard or I even realized we'd worked together previously in U.N.C.L.E.
'That's just the nature of our profession. Both of us - all of the actors - had done so much television by this time that we had been through the meeting and greeting numerous times.'
Over the years they went through marriages and divorces together, they fought the movie studio together and got tinnitus together standing too close to explosions on a Star Trek set.
On the first anniversary of Nimoy's death, February 27, Shatner, the legendary inter-galactic hero, Captain Kirk has written what is a love note to his closest friend, Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock.
But the friendship was shattered in the last few years of Nimoy's life over a small incident and Nimoy never spoke to Shatner, now 84, again.
'It is something I will wonder about and regret forever. He was my closest friend in the world,' Shatner writes in Leonard, My Fifty-Year Friendship With A Remarkable Man, published by Thomas Dunne Publisher on February 16.
There were no books in Leonard's apartment growing up but they owned a radio and an old record player. Three or four Yiddish records were the major source of entertainment.
Leonard became fluent in Yiddish, loved the language and years later when living in LA, paid a psychiatrist to just sit and speak Yiddish with him weekly.
He worked any small job – from selling newspapers and shining shoes to selling vacuums - and would hang out at the neighborhood community settlement house where he got his first leading role in Hansel and Gretel after singing for a lady playing the piano.
His big break came at 17 in a Clifford Odets play and 'that's when I realized I've got to get away,' Leonard told Shatner.
Away meant West to Hollywood and turning down a scholarship to study at Boston College.
Classics: Nimoy created the Vulcan neck pinch and the salute that he confessed he learned in synagogue during the benediction when the feminine counterpart to God, the Shechinah, enters to bless the congregation
His parents were grief stricken. 'You'll be hanging around with gypsies and bums,' his father told him.
'An actor? Who becomes an actor? It's not a profession for a nice Jewish boy.' They wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer. Acting wasn't a real job.
'And then he offered me one piece of advice, 'Learn to play the accordion'.
'Because if I could play the accordion, I could always make a living working bar mitzvahs and weddings'.
Before Star Trek, I spent abut fifteen years in Los Angeles looking for work as an actor, and during that time, I never had a job that lasted any longer than two weeks.
Shatner quoting Nimoy
He sold his friend his most prized possession, an electric blue Ford, and bought a $100 coach ticket on the train to Los Angeles'.
'I was an adventurer taking off for another world. To be an actor.'
Out on the West Coast, Leonard moved into a cheap rooming house off of the Sunset Strip and took whatever roles came along - mostly B-movie roles.
His specialty was playing the heavy, the bad guy. He played cowboys, Native Americans, cops and robbers but he was never a star and he never got top billing.
He took whatever acting job he was offered while still driving a cab, running a vending machine route, delivering newspapers, ushering in a movie theatre and selling exotic fish. He had to know there was always a paycheck coming in.
'I went a long time before I could make a living as an actor,' he said.
His most memorable passenger was Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy, who he ferried from the Bel Air Hotel to the Beverly Hilton where 'he stepped out of the cab and started to walk away without paying'.
Leonard jumped out of the cab, followed JFK into the hotel and said, 'I want my $1.25'. Kennedy borrowed $3 from someone he knew and paid Leonard.
A more important lesson he learned from Kennedy was Kennedy's response to Leonard's question about Adlai Stevenson's chance of getting the presidential nomination for a second time in 1956. Kennedy asked Leonard what he thought.
That 'made me feel much more worthwhile – more meaningful and important to myself'.
'Before Star Trek, I spent abut fifteen years in Los Angeles looking for work as an actor, and during that time, I never had a job that lasted any longer than two weeks.'
The actors actually met in 1964 during the spy television show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. starring Robert Vaughn (right). But neither recalled the meeting. In 'The Project Strigas Affair' Shatner played a pest control business owner recruited to convince Communist spy Nimoy that he has the secret to a nerve gas formula
Gods: Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode, 'Plato's Stepchildren' that aired in November 1968
Those were 'character-building years' which at times angered and frustrated him. He fought with his wife, Sandi, who encouraged him to stay with acting.
Finally the call for a reading came from producer Gene Roddenberry who was intent on creating an interracial, interspecies crew for a sci-fi series in development at NBC.
It was the first time he was being considered for a leading role. It was only in development with no guarantee the show would be picked up.
But Roddenberry was sold on Nimoy and wanted him to create the role of Mr. Spock, half human, half alien and not totally comfortable in two worlds with his 'Dumbo ears', as Leonard called them.
Leonard wasn't convinced about the ears but Roddenberry insisted and the ears went through several designs before both men were satisfied.
Leonard's goal was to see his name painted on the dressing room door instead of being written in chalk.
Shatner viewed the dark and brooding Leonard as perfect for the role of Spock while he describes himself as 'blond, bright-eyed and a walking mood ring'.
Shatner's moods turned sour when Spock became the most important character and received the most fan mail and he believed his future was in jeopardy when the network suggested that Spock appear in every episode.
He was jealous and confronted Roddenberry who advised him not to be afraid of having popular and talented people working with him.
Leonard created Spock. He created the Vulcan neck pinch and the salute that he confessed he learned in synagogue during the benediction when the feminine counterpart to God, the Shechinah, enters to bless the congregation.
This is a moment so powerful and sacred, one must not look. So the congregation forms the shape of the Hebrew letter 'shin' to hide their eyes.
Giddyup: The buddies attended the 'Hollywood Charity Horse Show' at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in 2009
Shatner was making a film about the captains of the Enterprise and Leonard didn't want any part of it. A cameraman shot him at a convention and it was included in the film. Leonard never spoke to Shatner again
This was magical to the eight-year old boy in Boston when he peeked and it became the Vulcan greeting years later and was copied by fans not realizing that it was a blessing in the Orthodox tradition.
Nimoy became Spock because he spent more time as Spock than Nimoy, Shatner writes
He was always in character even between takes on the set and later feared he'd always be identified as Spock.
While the Captain and Mr. Spock made the show a hit, Nimoy was hot with resentment. The network and Paramount retained all merchandising rights and were even using Spock's image to sell beer in London. The two leads only received a salary.
When Nimoy asked to leave the set early one Friday for a paid appearance in Boston the following day, Roddenberry told him he'd have to pay him twenty percent. Leonard refused and walked out. He received a follow up memo from the producers saying he was no longer allowed to use the studio's pens and pencils.
I'd be drinking midday on a Saturday or Sunday and then passing out. I'd go to bed at four o'clock in the afternoon and sleep through the next day, missing a party in my own home. Eventually I realized I had become an alcoholic.
Shatner quoting Nimoy
When the three years of the show were over, the friendship between Nimoy and Shatner blossomed and it was only then that Shatner learned that Leonard was a functioning alcoholic.
His drinking started during the second or third season with one glass of wine or a cocktail after work. It was a ritual that soon segued into needing more than one drink.
'I was drinking more and more because my addictive personality was taking over, Nimoy told his friend.
He was also smoking heavily. Shatner had smoked heavily when they first started shooting the series but quit cold turkey. Leonard couldn't.
'If I smoked a little, I ended up smoking a lot. If I drank a little, I ended up drinking a lot. And within a matter of a year or two, I developed a major problem with alcohol. It reached the point where I could no longer control how much I was drinking.'
'I'd be drinking midday on a Saturday or Sunday and then passing out. I'd go to bed at four o'clock in the afternoon and sleep through the next day, missing a party in my own home.'
'Eventually I realized I had become an alcoholic.'
Shatner suspects that 'the reality of success disappointed him greatly'.
Leonard thought he had found a family with the studio only to learn that 'the studio was not necessarily my friend, or my parent, that they were contract people.'
Leonard's own family said he was disconnected from family issues. He and his wife, Sandi (above) had participated in 'love-ins' pursuing sexual freedom. 'It wasn't quite group sex—but there was a lot of embracing'
Their attitude was -- 'How much are we paying him? If he asks for more, tell him we'll get somebody else to wear the ears. He wants a phone in his dressing room? Is it in his contract? No phone, no'.
It infuriated Leonard and he went into therapy to deal with it. Leonard's own family said he was disconnected from family issues.
He and his wife, Sandi had participated in 'love-ins' pursuing sexual freedom. 'It wasn't quite group sex—but there was a lot of embracing.'
His alcoholism was now soaring out of control. When lecturing in college towns, his first question while checking back into the hotel was how late is the bar open. If it was closed when he got back, he would scream,