The Soul of Star Trek: Part Two
Central to Star Trek’s fame and its popularity was that guy with the pointed ears. Mr Spock gripped the attention of the audience of the 1960s; a flawed superman, a character who struggled to live by logic alone despite the fact that he was half human and thus subject to the same emotions as the rest of us; a lonely alien trying to make it look as if he didn’t care about being lonely.
He was played by Leonard Nimoy, another lonely alien equally determined to make it look as if he didn’t care and, like his alter ego, born into a world in which he didn’t fit. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 26 March 1931, 8.55am, to Jewish Russian immigrants, who had escaped illegally from the Ukraine in search of the American Dream.
He grew up in a predominantly Italian Catholic neighbourhood, and experienced anti-Semitic bullying and ostracism from an early age. His close Mercury-Uranus conjunction in Aries in the 11th House illustrates the alienness from his peers which both he and his Vulcan alter-ego experienced, and which made him so suited to portraying that pain. It also symbolises the alien with whom he became indelibly associated for the rest of his life.
Like hundreds of other first generation Americans, he was expected to live out his parents’ expectations in this brave new world; his older brother did just that, excelling at school and eventually becoming an engineer. Nimoy however was smitten by the acting bug at the age of eight when he took part in a local play, and it continued to be the main interest in his life, certainly over and above academic success. His family waited in vain for him to “settle down”.
Uranus met his moon again in the December of 1987, by opposition this time. On that occasion, however, his mother left him; she died in that month. Also in that month, another significant female left his life as well, when he divorced his wife of 33 years.
All his life, Nimoy has danced to Uranus’ tune, closely conjunct as it is to his ruling planet, Mercury.
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Meanwhile, the actor’s life was a struggle. When Pluto opposed his natal Venus in 1953 he met and married an actress called Sandi Zober, and two children arrived within the next two years. By the time he was asked to take the part of the pointy-eared alien in Star Trek, he had in fact achieved a fairly reputable name in the business as a solid character actor, but it had been a hard seventeen years, building up the career which got under way at his progressed New Moon in 1951, the year he got his first film role in the movie Queen For a Day. Poverty had dogged him most of the way, and only his wife’s insistence that he keep the faith stopped him from giving up and taking a “proper job”.
Star Trek was waiting for him, however. At the moment the first episode aired, its Moon exactly conjoined his at 27 degrees of Gemini. It was a union made in space!
He has been called the “soul of Star Trek”, and he was always aware that he understood the needs of the show, and of course of his own character, perhaps more than anyone else. During the initial three year run, it was he who repeatedly made a nuisance of himself by arguing with the writers to try to defend the integrity of the character and of the show, especially during the third season, when some of the episodes plumbed truly epic depths. (For any of you who have access to the episodes, watch “Spock’s Brain” to find out just how bad it could get.) His awareness of the needs of Star Trek was accepted more and more as the films were produced, culminating in the final one, The Undiscovered Country, when Paramount simply gave him the film and asked him to take any role he wished, director, producer, writer, as long as he gave them a viable Star Trek film in time for the 25th anniversary. None of them may have known the astrology, but all were aware that he was the one as no other who understood the instinctual life of the show.
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When Star Trek was axed after its third series, Nimoy bolted straight into a regular role in Mission Impossible, as Paris, the master of disguises. It took two years in that role for him to realise for that he didn’t have to take the first role offered to him any more, and, at his Uranus opposition in 1972, when Uranus opposed itself and also his natal Mercury, desperate with boredom, he negotiated himself out of a lucrative four year contract and dashed off to enjoy himself for the first time in years, playing summer stock in theatres around the country and choosing TV and film roles he liked.
Meanwhile, he, like the other cast members, became aware that the show was living on and growing in popularity, but apart from occasional appearances at conventions, and voicing over the animated series, he thought that Spock was firmly buried in his past.
It was the explosive popularity of George Lucas’s Star Wars in 1977 that caused Paramount to sit up and take notice, and they began to realise the full potential of their own franchise, which had over the years been lovingly kept alive and nurtured by the “Trekkies”. The wheels were set in motion, story ideas were played with, and the original cast was contacted. Robert Wise was hired as director, a man who had never actually watched the original series but who had made a good job of The Sound Of Music! Everyone was ready to go – except Nimoy.
He had made a life for himself. He was appearing on Broadway in Equus, he had an Emmy award winning role in A Woman Called Golda with Ingrid Bergman, he was about to go off to China for a role in a mini series about Marco Polo. He had also, since Pluto opposed his Sun three years before, been deeply immersed in a legal battle with Paramount over the use of the Spock image in advertising and merchandising (an action which began over a Heineken advert involving the angle of Spock’s ears before and after a draft of the drink which refreshes the parts other beers don’t reach. He saw it during a visit to England, and, like one of England’s greatest monarchs, was not amused).
In addition to these obstacles, he simply did not relish the prospect of the two-and-a-half-hour stints in the make up chair every morning whilst ears and eyebrows were applied. He did not want to return to the role. However, Pluto had by 1978 moved in to oppose his Mercury and North Node and Uranus in Aries, and to square itself. In addition, Saturn conjoined his Neptune, to force the image into reality. Paramount settled the legal battle, ending one major power struggle, and his last excuse was swept from under him as unstoppable Pluto dragged him back into the ears.
On Star Trek’s Jupiter return, and as Solar Arc Directed Jupiter hit its unaspected Leo Mars, the first Star Trek movie began filming.