Leonard Nimoy’s Son Does Some Soul Searching in New Memoir

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Director Adam Nimoy attends
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Amazon

The on-and-off feuding between Star Trek icons Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner is no secret. But if you’re looking for a reason behind it, you are unlikely to find it in Adam Nimoy‘s new memoir, The Most Human: Reconciling With My Father, Leonard Nimoy, which details Nimoy’s difficult lifelong relationship with his father, but does little to illuminate Leonard Nimoy’s inner, private world. This is not necessarily the fault of the author; like he explains frequently, he did not really understand his father.

FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK, from left, Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy, in the late 1960s, 2016,

Gravitas Ventures/courtesy Everett Collection

It doesn’t sound like his father understood himself, either. Leonard Nimoy was a typical man of his time; unemotional, cold and often quiet, much like his Star Trek character. “My father never set out to create a popular character,” Adam Nimoy writes of a speech he made at Paramount Theater after the screening of the documentary he made about his father. “Instead, his genius was in finding a personal connection to all the roles he played. He intention in terms of Spock was to bring a dynamic and inner life to the character, and he did this by identifying with Spock, the only alien on the core Enterprise crew–the outsider trying to contribute to the society in which he found himself. This was exactly what Dad had experienced in Boston, where he was the outsider, the son of Russian immigrants trying to make his way and his contribution to the American society he was born into.”

WAIKIKI - JUNE 13: 13 year-old Adam Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, enjoying the surf at Waikiki, Hawaii. Image dated June 13, 1970.

CBS/Getty Images

Perhaps it was why he was so good playing him. However, it did not sit well with his own children, who wanted more, and it likely did not sit well with Leonard himself, considering his long-term abuse of alcohol.

“Years later, when he was sober and being interviewed by none other than Bill Shatner, Dad admitted his habitual drinking began in the 1960s to cope with the pressures of making Star Trek. What he didn’t say during that segment — and later confided in me — was that his drinking was the result of long hours on the set, the difficult producers, and his problems with Bill Shatner,” Adam Nimoy writes. “This all prompted me to ask Dad an obvious question. ‘With all the trouble between the two of you on set, how is it that you guys were so amazing together when the camera was rolling?’

STAR TREK, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, in Season 1 episode #26, 'The Devil In the Dark,' March 7, 1967.

Paramount/Courtesy: Everett Collection

“My dad replied in a typical Spock-like manner: ‘We were professionals.’

“Years later, in the ’90s, Dad announced that Bill Shatner was his best friend. Julie and I were bewildered by this, but it was true. They seemed to be enjoying a nice, loving relationship with each other. Dad was right there to support Bill when his third wife, Nerine, tragically died in 1999. And on a much lighter note, they were terrific together in their Priceline commercials. Then, several years later, Bill was back to being persona non grata in my father’s eyes. Sometimes I simply could not figure Dad out.”

This was perhaps at the heart of the memoir: Adam’s inability to connect fully with his father, who was not very present for him emotionally, especially during the years he was filming Star Trek. This disconnect, Nimoy says, was one reason why he turned to drugs.

THE OUTER LIMITS, director Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy, on set, 'I, Robot', season 1, ep. 18, aired 7/23/1995, (1995-2002).

Doug Curran/Showtime Networks/Courtesy Everett Collection

Like father, like son: Nimoy Jr. had his own struggles with addiction, beginning in his teen years. It wasn’t until his marriage was crumbling and his own kids were teenagers that Adam became sober and began attending AA meetings; not for alcohol, like his father, but for weed. Eventually, both father and son were in AA, and by the time they reconciled later in life, they even went to some meetings together.

The details of how this happened are all in the memoir, and it does have a happy ending, as the two managed to put aside their differences long before Nimoy’s death.

The book is quite illuminating if you’re interested in what it’s like to live in a house with someone who is so famous and casts such a long shadow. It hits stores today, so check it out!


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March 2020

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