Fans of the Star Trek franchise mourned the loss of one of the original series’ cast members when Leonard Nimoy died this past February. Known for his iconic role as the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, Nimoy became one with the role despite several years struggling to separate himself from it.
What many people don’t know is the important role he also played behind the scenes. Nichelle Nichols, who played the glamorous Lieutenant Uhuru, was reportedly being underpaid compared to co-stars George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, and Walter Keonig, who played Pavel Chekov.
According to a 2014 interview with Keonig, Nimoy found out about the disparity in pay and went to the producers of the show to correct it. Nimoy confirmed his actions in a 2014 interview. But his desire to have equal rights for all didn’t end there.
The Star Trek live action series was canceled in 1969, but an animated series aired in 1973 featuring the voices of the original cast members. Initially, the voices of Sulu and Uhura were set to be played by another voice actor but Nimoy refused to work on the show unless Takei and Nichols were included.
Nimoy held out until his minority co-stars were added to the cast. In that same 2014 interview, Nimoy said that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry called him the “conscience” of the series because of his compassion for others.
Another story regarding Nimoy’s big heart began circulating just moments after his death about a letter he received in 1968 via the teen magazine, Fave.
A biracial girl living in Los Angeles who was a fan of the show wrote ‘Mr. Spock’ to share the issues she was having reconciling her mixed heritage and feeling like an outsider in her white neighborhood.
Nimoy was so moved by this that he wrote a moving and lengthy response to the girl using Spock’s upbringing as a half-human child in a Vulcan society as a comparison.
Later in his life, Nimoy came to embrace the fact that he was synonymous with the character he was best known for and appeared at many comic book conventions. Of the original Star Trek cast, he was the only member to appear in J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the franchise.
Nimoy was 83.