The tributes to Leonard Nimoy that have filled newspaper front pages and television broadcasts since his death Friday have begun to reveal a measure of the man’s remarkable reach, which extended far beyond his development of perhaps the most enduring and beloved character in modern science fiction.
He was a dedicated artist who acted on stage and screen, directed plays and films, wrote poetry and earned praise for his photography; a generous donor to the arts and many causes; a proud Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) member; and an early champion of diversity and pay equity—as was revealed in recent reports on how Mr. Spock advocated for equal pay for Lt. Uhura (actress Nichelle Nichols).
So perhaps it will not come as a surprise that, at the height of his initial fame, Nimoy was an ardent McGovern man.
George McGovern’s anti-war candidacy for the presidency in 1972 attracted a good deal of celebrity support. But few Hollywood figures worked as hard as Nimoy to advance the cause of the Democratic presidential contender.
Beginning in January of 1972, when he trekked to New Hampshire on behalf of what was then considered to be McGovern’s uphill battle for the nomination, Nimoy traveled to thirty-five states on the South Dakota senator’s behalf. Grainy photos and news reports from more than four decades ago tell the story of a young Nimoy campaigning in the southwest with Latinos, in urban centers with African-Americans, in rural Oregon and even in Alaska.
Nimoy did not mind trading on his Star Trek celebrity to appeal for McGovern. He even joked at campaign stops that “I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve spent most of my previous life on Vulcan, so I don’t know too much about the people in this country,”
But, of course, he did know a lot about the country and its politics. Referencing infant mortality rates and poverty issues in a land of plenty, he declared, “We don’t need another campaign that avoids these issues, another nice-guy campaign.”