To honor the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the actor famous for his role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, the Archives searched for the footage of his visit to Columbia College Chicago in 1980. Some of the video skips in parts, but most of Nimoy’s presentation is still discernible through the blur and hiccups in the footage recorded 35 years ago. Nimoy filmed in Chicago for the first time in this particular Columbia College Q&A, which happened to be on his 48th birthday. “So… where’s the cake?” he asked the audience.
He sat on a wooden and leather chair on the small stage, with a voice mic around his neck. He tried taking it off after brief technical difficulties, but the camera man told him that he was filming, and put it back on.
A mural painting of Chicago hung behind Nimroy’s tall frame and gaunt features, donned with a distinguishable red sweater and mustache. Throughout his presentation, he gesticulated wildly, and even jumped off stage at one point to shake a kid in order to demonstrate the natural emotion behind improvisation that can be used to heighten film.
Nimoy took another stage that night in Aurora for his one-man show, “Vincent”, a play about the artist Vincent VanGogh. Student admission was two dollars and Nimoy asked the audience who had a car in an attempt to organize a car pool.
Most of his speech was conversational like this and the crowd intermittently erupted in laughter.
A student asked Nimoy what work of his he was the most proud of, and if any of his previous endeavors embarrassed him.
“I’ve done a lot of work that I’m really very pleased with for various reasons, not necessarily because any one of them I think is the best work I’ve done, but for example when I did “Equus” on Broadway for 16 weeks, I was the happiest actor in the country, I’m sure because I was right where I wanted to be,” Nimoy replied. “When I saw “Equus” a month after it opened in New York going back about four years ago, I was just thrilled, just really excited about the production and that play, and when two years later they called me and asked me to go into that production on Broadway I just went because I really wanted to do that and it was everything that I hoped for… but Vincent is more mine than anything I’ve done before.”
“As far as embarrassment is concerned? Oh I don’t know, I have a sense of humor about those things. I did a project in 1951, one of the very first jobs I ever had in film, that was a Saturday afternoon serial thing… Well I worked in one of those, I guess I was in about five or six episodes of that thing, it was a brilliant piece of work called “Zombies of the Stratosphere”… I think I made about 125 dollars and I needed the money… You have to laugh, it’s a story about another guy and myself from another planet who bring a ray gun and a pick up truck and we’re going to take over earth.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy…Live Long and Prosper.