He is not the nicest man, a rather rude and arrogant fellow who just happened to become famous by appearing on a TV series. He raked in oodles of cash by being a now-dead pitchman for hotel rooms and car rentals. He writes books (though he has a co-author to put his gibberish into English); his latest opus, “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99). The tome chronicles Shatner and his colleague, the late Leonard Nimoy, who crossed paths for the first time when they worked together on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
At that time they were establishing what would become rewarding careers spanning nearly six decades of work. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later, when cast together in a new science-fiction television show, that their lives and careers would be intertwined in ways neither could have predicted. In 79 episodes and seven movies, the roles of James T. Kirk and Dr. Spock would lead these men to grow closer than most friends ever would.
As Shatner relates, both men (and many others) had no idea “Star Trek” would become a cult favorite. Only through the magic of syndication did its legion of fans grow exponentially. Three years on the air doesn’t seem like a long time, but when the show left the air, Shatner and Nimoy had gone from mere acquaintances to laying the foundation for a lifelong friendship. The two men had nothing, and everything, in common. Their lives, backgrounds and family histories proved that their growing closeness over the years would be inevitable.
Over time, they saw each other through great personal and professional successes, as well as many tough and heartbreaking lows. In “Leonard”, Shatner recounts anecdotes and stories of their shared work and lives on and off the set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well. The result is a presentation of the full picture of a rich and vibrant life.
The true test of their friendship came on occasions not involving their work or artistic interpretations of their craft, but when life’s challenges and hardships intervened. At those painful moments (Leonard Nimoy’s parents passing, his son’s addiction, his own battle with alcoholism; Shatner’s wife’s death) both men leaned on each other for strength and encouragement to keep going. And because their friendship was the rock that it had become both were able to see each other through the pain, and of course, even further strengthening of their bond.
As Shatner writes late in the book, as Nimoy “was sick and dying, and fighting every step of the way to go on,” the true measure of their strength and love as friends was presented it greatest challenges, and rose to its finest heights. Yet Shatner did not attend Nimoy’s funeral; he Twittered (!) that he was honoring a charity event! Nimoy’s final curtain . . . and his best stayed stayed away.
We ask: When Nichelle Nichols and George Takei go where no man or woman has gone before, will we see “Nichelle: My Friendship with a Remarkable Woman” and “George: My Friendship with a Remarkable Man.”?