Sunday, March 1, 2015

Leonard Nimoy and My Summer Vacation

Yom rishon, 10 Adar 5775.

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015


Coming from a small town in the western United States, I can't drop too many names. But in my youth, I was privileged to meet and work briefly with Leonard Nimoy in a community theater production of the musical Oliver!

The local theater group worked for several weeks perfecting our production of the famous 1968 musical. As fearful of the stage then as I am now, I didn't try out for the show. Rather, I had the fun of working backstage with the makeup crew, learning everything I know (and would use for many plays and Purims after that) from one of Lon Chaney Jr.'s theatrical makeup students, Ralph Thompson. The play backstage was as fascinating as the one onstage -- and had the added benefit of changing every night!

My makeup teacher, Ralph Thompson, at work

That's me, aging one of our young actors for his part as Mr. Brownlow.

He seemed happy with the final results. :-)

Much work was done before Leonard Nimoy arrived to play the role of Fagin.

I was very impressed with all of the talent and work that went into the production, and waited anxiously with everyone else for the two weeks before the performance when we would finally get to meet Leonard Nimoy.

Some of the ladies in the cast whose natural beauty was enhanced by our staff

Mr. and Mrs. Bumble and Co. getting into character

Our Artful Dodger really got into his role!

"Letting our hair down" at a cast party. Yes, children, we really did dress and dance like that.

When he joined the cast, Mr. Nimoy brought a few subtle and not-so-subtle suggestions that completely changed the small-town community play into a very professional extravaganza. He recommended, for example, that instead of the "Who Will Buy" scene being confined to the stage, the various merchants should enter the theater from the rear doors, and parade down the aisles, "offering" their wares to the audience. Each enhancement was welcomed by the cast and crew, and we really gave the audience a wonderful show! Mr. Nimoy even took a few moments to give me some tips about makeup, as well as complimenting me on my work, with his trademark smile.

One of my high school "besties" posing with the great man for posterity

I grew up with everyone else in my generation with Mr. Spock as the conflicted "mixed-breed" son of a normal emotional Earthling mother and a logic-is-everything seemingly emotionless Vulcan father, and all of the interesting scenarios that character created for the Star Trek TV and movie series. Leonard Nimoy was a poet and a singer, and probably a very fine man. He was one of my Jewish brothers.

And for a few weeks during a summer between high school grades, my life was made a little more interesting by his presence.

Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy.

All photos taken by the writer or with her camera and her permission.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you Ruti, for sharing your memories of pre Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Alava shalom

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    1. Glad you enjoyed, Avi. Thank you for reading and commenting! One small correction: This event took place "within" the Mr. Spock era, as the TV show aired nearly a decade before. That's why all of us kids thought it was so cool to actually meet "Mr. Spock" in person. :-)

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    2. I neglected notice the star date of your encounter. He looks so much younger without the Spock makeup.

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  2. Incredibly, amazingly cool!

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    1. Fun to have one adventure in our past, eh? Thanks for reading and commenting, Galia!

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  3. Thank you for sharing a bit of your past and for this nice tribute to Leonard Nimoy z'l. The pictures are great and sent me back into my own memory lane, especially the bell-bottoms! :-)

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    1. Didn't we just have the greatest styles? :-D Still, note that our pants started at our waists. I miss those days...

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  4. What a wonderful memory to cherish! Thank you, Ruti. I was scrolling and scanning until I finally found YOU!

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    1. Thank you, dear lady! It is wonderful to have memories of fun times we don't know till later will be precious.

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  5. What wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Elaine, thank you for reading and commenting!

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  6. You were privileged to meet him. He was proud of his Jewish heritage and became an iconic figure in American culture. Baruch Dayan ha-Emet...

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    1. Agreed, Lady-Light. May all who loved him be comforted.

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  7. Love the pictures that go along with the memories...I smiled reminiscently as I read, as though I experienced it myself - Thank you!

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    1. Ah, a writer's dream! If you enjoyed as if it were YOUR memory, I was successful. :-)

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  8. I enjoyed seeing the pictures of you back in the day when we went to school together. That was the girl I knew and loved! I do have a little different memory about that play however.

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