Leonard Nimoy Pitches a Galaxii to 1969 Toronto

Originally published on Torontoist on February 27, 2015.

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Toronto Star, April 8, 1969.

“The voice of Mr. Spock of television’s Star Trek filtered through eerie space sounds and galactic lighting in the McLaughlin Planetarium last night–in the role of salesman,” the Star reported on April 4, 1969. “Leonard Nimoy, who at 38 looks much younger than the role he has portrayed for three years on the now-defunct TV show, was assisting in a dramatic effort to sell merchandising space in Galaxii, a CNE show.”

The sales pitch marked an early Toronto publicity appearance for Nimoy, who passed away today at age 83. During the presentation, sponsored by Industrial and Trade Shows of Canada, Nimoy “stood in one corner of the small stage minus Mr. Spock’s Vulcanite pointed ears, extolling the drawing power of the display.” The UV lighting used at the session gave those wearing white shirts an eerie, unearthly glow.

Interviewed by the Star, Nimoy seemed relieved that Star Trek wasn’t coming back for a fourth season, as his commitment had cost him film roles. “I’d like to do TV but I’d like to have a broader base,” Nimoy noted. “You get tired playing any character for a long time. It varies from script to script—from agony to despair.” He found a new series quickly, replacing Martin Landau as Mission Impossible’s resident disguise expert that fall.

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Toronto Star, August 14, 1969.

Nimoy enjoyed meeting Canadians, calling them “very professional people.” He was also fascinated by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. “He’s captured the interest of a lot of people, not only Canadian but American as well,” Nimoy observed. “He has a style and personal attitude similar to the Kennedys.”

Galaxii wound up being the spacey teen-centric attraction of the 1969 Canadian National Exhibition, albeit without an appearance by Nimoy. For a $1 surcharge, visitors entering the Automotive Building enjoyed a period mélange of strobe-lit music performances (headlined by the Guess Who), a sandbox room with a religious-themed presentation inspired by the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., films of the Apollo 11 moonwalk, and an aluminum-paneled room where 60-degree Fahrenheit temperature changes occurred within seconds. The elaborate environments were still being assembled on opening day.

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Toronto Star, July 27, 1976.

Organizers of the first large-scale Canadian Star Trek convention, held over three days at the Royal York Hotel in July 1976, tried to assemble as much of the cast as possible. William Shatner proved too expensive, while Nimoy was tied up in Milwaukee playing Henry Higgins in a touring production of My Fair Lady. The 6,000 fans that showed up bode well for future Toronto Star Trek gatherings, including one which drew 15,000 to Nathan Phillips Square in September 1991. Among those on hand for that event, in full Next Generation regalia, was mayoral candidate Jack Layton. During the official proclamation of the event, Mayor Art Eggleton noted that Toronto enjoyed “the only city council that meets in a spaceship.”

While Nimoy did not attend the 1991 festivities, he spent significant time here four years earlier directing the biggest box office hit of 1987, Three Men and a Baby.

In the hearts of local Star Trek fans who followed his long career, Nimoy lived long and prospered.

Additional material from the April 4, 1969, August 14, 1969, July 21, 1976, July 26, 1976, and September 9, 1991 editions of the Toronto Star.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Photo by Mike Slaughter, 1976. Toronto Public Library, from the Toronto Star Archives.

The Toronto Public Library’s collection of Toronto Star photos often demonstrates how images were edited for final publication. The shot used to illustrated the 1976 Star Trek convention is a good example, as the unidentified man on the left not only didn’t make the final cut, but his hand was blasted off by a phaser.

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