Cosmic Coincidences: Nimoy & Bennett

Leonard Nimoy’s passing sadly coincides with the death of Harve Bennett two days earlier. It is cosmic in how Bennett and Nimoy were both the producers and creative captains of the Star Trek Holy Trilogy in the 1980s. Together rescuing a forgotten TV show from obscurity. Their direction and collaborations made possible what is today’s Trek fandom.

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Harve-Bennett (centre) and Leonard Nimoy (right) with the cast of Star Trek II (1982)

After the disappointment of  ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ in 1979, Bennett was assigned by Paramount the task of producing a cheaper sequel. So he digs up Khan, an obscure villain from one of the 79 original episodes. He promises Nimoy the ultimate death scene if he gets on board. This is because the late actor had written by this time, “I Am Not Spock.” In it, Nimoy expresses ambivalence about tethering himself to the Spock character. Fortunately, we know the outcome.

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Leonard Nimoy (right) as Spock in Star Trek II (1982)

The Wrath of Khan

Together they produce one of Hollywood’s most successful sequels. Their followups are three stellar science fiction films that cinematically encapsulate the campy original series of the 1960s. A story that threads through The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock & The Voyage Home is as delightful to watch now, as it is poignant.

The success of these features green lit the franchise’s return to television in 1988 with The Next Generation, and made it so for a key component of my childhood.

Nimoy was Spock

Nimoy did untimely identify a certain mystic connection with the Spock character. The Vulcan split-fingered salute was more like his idea from the start (it’s actually a manual approximation of a Hebrew letter). And while it was obvious to many, his personae as the resolutely logical science officer of the Enterprise became the true spirit of Star Trek in the consciousness of popular culture.

Thus, when he also was hosting shows positing theories and conjecturing on subjects like The Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot or ancient mysteries; when he’s in search of The Loch Ness Monster, and positing the existence of Atlantis and the secrets we are to plunder, he lends a certain level of credibility to the content.

Nimoy was a Photographer

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Leonard Nimoy. Long Exposure by Leonard Nimoy

In addition to his iconic role, he was also a photographer I’ve been surprised to learn.
He has a photo series where he was inspired by a memory as a youth in a synagogue to explore the feminine aspect of God in physical form. It raised quite a stir in some communities.

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Photo by Leonard Nimoy

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Photo by Leonard Nimoy

Here was a man who knew how to use light and create some provocative compositions.  In addition, he felt his subjects were an expression of his Orthodox upbringing and also a sense of his own spirituality. As a result, his work was very personal to him.

Harve Bennett left filmmaking after the Star Trek movies he produced. Aside from a few television projects, his legacy is really the films he and Leonard Nimoy came together to craft. They are staples of science fiction. And just good storytelling.

The talent between them is more than evident on screen, and their passings so shortly together is nothing short of cosmic. They will be missed. They both lived long and prospered.

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Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy on set of Star Trek III (1984)