LOS ANGELES, March 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Leonard Nimoy was who Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had in mind when he first imagined Mr. Spock, but it was Nimoy’s contributions that helped make the Vulcan so extraordinary. A serious thinker and method actor, Nimoy identified with and became very protective of Spock, often adding to Roddenberry’s characterization.
In Marc Cushman’s Saturn Award winning book series, These Are the Voyages, there are many instances of his imprints, such as the Vulcan Neck-Pinch.
It was Tuesday, June 21, 1966, the sixth day of filming on “The Enemy Within.” Leonard Nimoy was bothered by something in the script. He had not been able to get the producers to hear his concern, so he decided to take arbitrary action. In this episode, a transporter malfunction created a double for Captain Kirk, who then attacked crew members and was now hunted down to the engineering decks. The stage direction in the shooting script said Spock “lunges out from behind one of the generators and kayoes the double.” Nimoy later recalled, “The scene jarred me when I first read it. It seemed more appropriate for the Old West than the 23rd Century.”
Near the time of this production, while being interviewed on set by a newspaper writer, Nimoy said, “Although we are essentially a humanistic show, the Enterprise is heavily armed and a lot of guns get shown. My way of avoiding participation in the violence was the Spock Pinch. I decided that Vulcans knew so much about the human anatomy that they could knock out an enemy just by pinching a nerve in the neck and the shoulders.”
On that sixth day of filming, Nimoy approached director Leo Penn with his idea. William Shatner had been listening in, so when Penn asked for a demonstration, he quickly volunteered to be the guinea pig. Nimoy recalled, “I applied pressure to the juncture of Bill’s neck and shoulder, and he most convincingly fell into an unconscious heap on the floor. Thus the famous neck pinch was born, in part because of Bill Shatner’s talent for fainting on cue.”
The “pinch” stayed, but had not been cleared by the front office. Producers Gene Roddenberry, Robert Justman, and John D.F. Black had no idea that Nimoy, Shatner and Penn had, behind their backs, made a substantial change to the character of Spock and the format of Star Trek. They found out the next day while viewing the dailies. Roddenberry and his creative staff couldn’t help but embrace the idea and immediately began looking for ways to use the pinch in future episodes.
Although he was warned to not make decisions without approval again Nimoy continued to be vigilant of Spock’s integrity. Integrity that not only Nimoy expected, but what he knew the fans wanted, as well. And that’s only logical.
About Marc Cushman
Marc Cushman is an author and Los Angeles based screenwriter and director. His television writing assignments include scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, and Diagnosis: Murder. His feature film credits include Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney, The Magic of Christmas, and In The Eyes Of A Killer. As a writer/producer, Marc created and served as show runner for two TV series: the cult comedy Channel K and its spin-off, the original Bachelor Pad. Marc is the author of the “biography of a TV show,” I Spy: A History Of The Groundbreaking Television Series (McFarland & Co., 2007), and the definitive examination of the making of the original Star Trek series, with his 1,700 page, three-volume set, These Are The Voyages, TOS.
Learn more at www.thesearethevoyagesbooks.com.