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Leonard Nimoy Credits An Unlikely Partner For The Star Trek Craze

If you say the name Leonard Nimoy, the logical but lovable Spock invariably comes to mind, especially for die-hard "Star Trek" devotees, aka Trekkies. Nimoy and Spock are quintessentially linked to science fiction, and both are household names now thanks to the success of the "Trek" franchise. However, until he won the role of Spock, Nimoy was just another struggling actor lumbering from job to job, telling CBS Sunday Morning in 2005, "I hadn't had a job that lasted longer than two weeks in 15 years."

Nimoy did work steadily as a guest star, appearing on television series like "Bonanza," "The Twilight Zone," and "Gunsmoke," but his three-year run as everyone's favorite Vulcan on "Star Trek" almost didn't happen. "The network didn't even want Spock on the show," the actor said, explaining that NBC relied heavily on ratings from the Bible Belt and executives were afraid that audiences wouldn't tune in to see a pointed-ear character emblematic of Satan.

Fortunately, fan mail poured in from viewers who loved Spock, and today, the U.S.S. Enterprise's science officer enjoys a legacy spanning nearly 60 years. And while Nimoy knew how much the fans had helped his career, he admitted that those wildly passionate followers had some help when it came to the "Star Trek" fandom boldly going where no one had gone before.

News perpetuated Trekkies

As he shared with CBS Sunday Morning, Leonard Nimoy loved the work he did on "Star Trek: The Original Series," particularly Seasons 1 and 2. However, he wasn't at all prepared for the overwhelming number of fans who fell in love with the sci-fi series, especially when it entered syndication. Nimoy shot to stardom, and he credits the news coverage that captured the earliest "Star Trek" conventions as part of the reason that the ardent fandom both exploded and still thrives all these years later.

Nimoy told CBS Sunday Morning about being invited to his first convention in New York and being blown away when he arrived on-site. "There were 3,000 people waiting, screaming, yelling," he said. "You could hardly say a word. They wouldn't stop screaming." Weeks later, Nimoy and some of the other cast members gathered for another convention in Chicago.

That particular convention was slated to host 30,000 guests over a three-day weekend, but a staggering 20,000 people showed up on Saturday alone, an unprecedented number that forced the event to shut down. "It became a news story," Nimoy continued. "The news people were carrying the story about what was happening with 'Star Trek.' That's when I began to realize that we were into something totally unpredictable and unexpected."