Leonard Nimoy was an accomplished actor, director, photographer—and an unlikely sex symbol.
The actor behind Star Trek’s Spock died Friday morning at age 83 after suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In his wake everyone from Hollywood to NASA has pored over his career as Spock, but have glossed over one key fact:
He drove women wild.
“I remember at Bowling Green University in Ohio a young woman got up and said, ‘I am going to do something for your ego. Are you aware that you are the source of erotic dream material for thousands and thousands of women around the world?’” Nimoy recalled in 1977, according to the Pittsburgh Press (headline: “Women Spaced Out Over Leonard Nimoy”). “I toasted her, with water, and said, ‘May all your dreams come true.’”
Nimoy explained why so many thousands of women wanted to just tear off Spock’s blue tunic and make sweet, sweet space love to him.
“Down the road comes a stranger—tall, dark, thoughtful, alien, and exotic,” he said. “Somewhat devilish in appearance. He has a brilliant mind, the wisdom of a patriarch and is oh, so cool. With one raised eyebrow, he suggests he is above game-playing and role-playing—which are just hangovers from Earth’s Victorian age—that he and he alone understands the deepest needs and longings of the Earth female.”
Damn, that’s a good line.
People magazine reported that same year that “the sacks of Spock mail reached 10,000 letters a month, mostly from women, much of it torridly erotic.”
Even academics and scholars could see it.
“Spock is sexy for a large number of people, male and female,” Henry Jenkins, then a humanities professor at MIT, told NPR in 2008. “Many of the female fans I studied really are attracted to the emotional depths of this character…[Someone who] tries to hold it all in, but who seems to be sensitive, sensuous at certain times.”
If Captain Kirk was Rudolph Valentino—hot-tempered, bare chested—then Spock was Gary Cooper: the strong, silent type.