Back in the 70’s I used to watch the original series reruns all the time, so I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. Aside from Sesame Street I learned the most about how to be a decent human being from the exploits of the Enterprise crew. So much so that when I was a teenage suburban punk I used to wear my, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek” t-shirt, just to get into fights. (Guess I learned one too many things from Captain Kirk.)
So by the time I went to college on the east coast, in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I started going to Star Trek conventions as often as possible and made a point to get as many of the stars’ autographs as I could. Which meant standing in a ton of long lines with easily some of the strangest people I’ve even seen (and I’ve worked in the music AND porn industries). After a few years and countless hours in line I had amassed most of the original crew’s signatures with the exception of Shatner and Nimoy’s, as they never did public signings and the idea of buying their autographs from a dealer just seemed like cheating. I didn’t know how I’d get them but I figured somehow I’d find a way.
By 1994 I had moved to Los Angeles and was working for a low budget horror studio. It was for next to no money but the experience alone made it worth all the other bullshit that I had to put up with. One of those experiences was finding out the dolly grip on one of the films also gripped for Rescue 911, hosted by none other than the Shat himself. I told my friend how much of a Trek fan I was and he offered to get me on set, to which I pretty much lost my fucking mind. That night I went home and drew a portrait of Mr. Shatner and, the next day, gave it to my friend to pass along if possible. Well he did and as it happened Mr. Shatner liked it so much he had it framed and placed in the wall of his trailer. So the following weekend, when I went to visit my friend on set, he told me to bring a photo if I wanted his autograph. He returned the following week with the signed photo and I was ecstatic!
So that only left Leonard Nimoy as the last autograph to complete my collection from the original crew. The only problem was I had no friend working on set with Mr. Nimoy to help out this time. So I had to get creative if I were going to get his signature. Fortunately I’ve always been pretty resourceful so I came up with a plan.
You see, in the day before the internet we had these things called “books” and in these “books” were collected information, almost like the web on paper. I know, I know – it sounds crazy but just trust me on this one. Anyway, there was a Hollywood directory at the time called LA411 that listed every creative worker in Hollywood’s contact information via either their agent, publicist or union rep. Since I wasn’t trying to offer Mr. Nimoy work the only contact I figured would actually get back to me was his publicist. So, taking the tactic that seemed to impress Mr. Shatner into giving me an autograph, I created a portrait of Mr. Nimoy, sent it and an 8×10 picture and a return envelope with a fan letter to his publicist and crossed my nerd fingers as far as they would cross.
Of all the autographs I had collected this method was by far the biggest gamble. There was absolutely no way for me to know if Mr. Nimoy had even got the portrait, much less if he would bother to sign and return the photo. But all of the stories I had heard over the year of how kind and considerate Leonard Nimoy was would be proven true to me about a month later when, not only did he sign and return the photo, but his publicist also sent me a note saying how touched Mr. Nimoy was with the gesture and how much he liked the portrait. As proof of the truth of that all I needed was to look at the autograph, which was by far the cleanest signature with the most personalized message – “To Fritz, With my thanks & Best Wishes – Leonard Nimoy”. Sure it may sound canned and cheesy, but not if you could see some of the other chicken scratches that are supposedly autographs I’ve collected.
So this long and somewhat rambling tale is my own personal eulogy for someone that I was and still am an honest fan of. Although I may have never met the man in person, I read both his biographies (I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock), saw him speak at countless conventions, and watched hours upon hours of interviews with him. Am I sad at his passing? Of course I am. I may be an asshole but I’m not a fucking asshole. What I am, more than sad, is glad. Glad that I have gained so much entertainment and learned so much from someone I never actually met. So thank you Mr. Nimoy for all of your gifts to us. You will live long and prosper in our hearts and minds forever.
Fritz Striker is a freelance illustrator, founder of TRASH Studios and a partner in Darkside Films LLC. For more of his work you can visit his online portfolio at: www.fritzstriker.com