My granddaughter, Atara, is a special young lady who will be 17 in April. When she was much younger she overheard Miriam capturing my attention one day with a stern “Leonard” rather than the usual Len or Lenny. Not having heard that appellation before, she found it somewhat amusing and with a giggle asker her grandmother: “Leonard? His mother really named him Leonard?” That is what I thought of when a book with
prominently on its cover and spine peered at me from the New Biography shelf at B & N this morning. It wasn’t about me, but rather about another Lenny formally known as Leonard — Leonard Nimoy, and authored by his long-term friend and Star Trek co-star William Shatner.
The dedication of the book penned by Shatner is powerful and touching:
“I am dedicating this book to a human being lived his led for over eighty-three years, whose journey was filled with joy and anger, cynicism and idealism, the endless array of emotions that constantly change and evolve. We humans go through life balanced with the detritus of life – it’s a drag, causing change, what once was passion changes to indifference – joy becomes sorrow and love has many hues. All the interweaving elements of human existence. Thus, I am that, you are that, and he was that. I dedicate this book to my dear friend Leonard Nimoy and his loving family.”
Nimoy and Shatner were born four days apart and had very similar upbringings, the former in Boston and the latter in Montreal. Both were raised in lower-middle class Orthodox Jewish immigrant families, in kosher homes, and were exposed to anti-Semitism. Their common experiences helped bind them together. Neither were particularly good students, and with the pull of the real world school did not hold their attention. Ultimately Hollywood beckoned. It must have amused Nimoy on some level that his iconic gesture of the Vulcan Salute in Star Trek was improvised from something he witnessed as a young child in the synagogue.