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Koenig: Leonard Nimoy Fought To Get Nichelle Nichols Pay Equity For ‘Star Trek’ + Nimoy Confirms

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According to original Star Trek cast member Walter Koenig, Leonard Nimoy once fought to get Nichelle Nichols pay equity. TrekMovie checked with Mr. Nimoy and he gave us the exclusive details. More info below.

Leonard Nimoy Tells TrekMovie Why Gene Roddenberry Called Him The “Conscience of Star Trek”

Today the Las Vegas Sun had an interview with original Star Trek star Walter Koenig to promote the big Las Vegas convention. Mostly the interview covered familiar ground but when talking about his relationship with his fellow Trek co-stars, Koenig said this about Leonard Nimoy.

Koenig: Leonard (Nimoy, Mr. Spock) was always kind of unapproachable. But a very good man. Sound ethics and a good sense of morality.

LV Sun: How so?

Koenig: When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George [Takei] and I were getting the same pay but Nichelle was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard and he took it to the front office and they corrected that.

TrekMovie reached out to Mr. Nimoy who confirmed the story. He also clarified that it "was during the Desilu years," meaning during the production of the original Star Trek series. Nimoy also recalled a similar incident (which has been reported before) about how during the 1970s he again went to bat for his co-stars, noting…

Nimoy: There was also the case where George and Nichelle we’re not hired to do their voices in the animated series . I refused to do Spock until they were hired. Mr. Roddenberry started calling me the conscience of Star Trek.

The fact that Nimoy fought for Nichelle Nichols back in the 1960s shows a bit of bravery. Back then women’s pay equity wasn’t the same kind of  hot topic it is today. On top of that, while he was a lead, Nimoy was still just an actor in the show and didn’t have the kind of pull he would eventually have when he went on to produce and direct for the Star Trek movies in the 80s & 90s. All in all, Walter’s story just proves what we all knew, Leonard Nimoy is a mensch.


With Leonard Nimoy’s help, Nichelle Nichols (C) eventually got pay equity with her "Star Trek" co-stars George Takei (L) and Walter Koenig (R)

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Marja
July 31, 2014 10:58 pm

There are people who don’t know Nimoy is a mensch?

Daniel
July 31, 2014 11:00 pm

All these years later and we are still learning new things about the people. Amazing. Mr. Nimoy always comes off as a class act.

July 31, 2014 11:01 pm

He fought for George and Nichelle to do the animated show. Why didn’t he fight for Walter? (Yeah, I know,…I’ve read the real reason before,…I just forget)

B Kramer
July 31, 2014 11:13 pm

Fascinating. But who is this person that wrote this? His name sounds familiar. ;^) Cheers.

TrekMadeMeWonder
July 31, 2014 11:25 pm

Thanks for the article hyperlink, Anthony.

I did’nt know!

Rod of Rasilon
August 1, 2014 12:40 am

@ 1 there are people who don’t know what mensch means, so I looked it up :)

Leonard Nimoy is a person…

Who knew.

I’m glad we live in a world were there are less instances of some being “more” equal than others, however we have a long way to go still.

Stephan
August 1, 2014 1:26 am

Wait a Moment: Anthony is back? Great to see that! Welcome back. You have been missed.

Jemini
August 1, 2014 2:34 am

well, not surprising. I read in the biography of Grace Lee Whitney (Rand) that he also was the one who comforted her after she was apparently sexually assaulted by one of the producers during those Desilu years
[and then they fired her.. and she blamed the assault her whole life thinking they wrote Rand out for that.. only to discover later that they wrote her out because her character was originally put there to be a love interest for Kirk but it became an obstacle when they realized they wanted him to change a girl every week and didn’t want him to look bad for cheating on Rand so the yeoman had to go]

I also know that Nichelle Nichols actually didn’t even have a regular contract like the other actors.
The 60s were racist and sexist, there is no way around that.

trekmaster78
August 1, 2014 2:49 am

I thought he was a vulcan ;-)

boy
August 1, 2014 3:52 am

I guess this explains why the whole cast always loved Nimoy more than shatner.

Joel
August 1, 2014 4:40 am

Leonard always seemed like he looked out for his fellow cast members—note the time in the spotlight that Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and even Rand had in Treks III, IV and VI.

What more can one say? Leonard’s awesome.

James
August 1, 2014 5:55 am

Nimoy = class act.

Mel
August 1, 2014 6:02 am

“All in all, Walter’s story just proves what we all knew, Leonard Nimoy is a mensch.”

I stumbled over this use of “mensch” before and I find it still weird. It is just an ordinary German word for human without any bigger meaning. It is strange that English native speakers apply to it so much more meaning.

Curious Cadet
August 1, 2014 6:16 am

@12 Mel,

It’s a Yiddish term, which means essentially “Good Guy”. It’s not an English word. German and Yiddish have many common words. This is not unusual throughout the use of language worldwide.

VOODOO
August 1, 2014 6:29 am

– I find Walter Koenig’s observations to be quite analytical. His comment about Leonard Nimoy being “unapproachable” is interesting.

– Nimoy standing up for Nichols proves once again that he is the man + the undisputed heart of ST.

– Welcome back Anthony!

CmdrR
August 1, 2014 6:34 am

Nimoy. Just when you want to call him a green-blooded… you learn that green is cool.

Hey, I see Anthony! Scotty, lock onto him! We must beam him back aboard before the oxygen in his suit — OK, whatever. You’ve been missed, Anthony! Welcome back.

TrekMadeMeWonder
August 1, 2014 7:56 am

8. Anthony Pascale – August 1, 2014

RE: mensch…there was an actual hyperlink on the word for those who were unfamiliar with the term.

Yeah. I caught that. Thanks.

I swear. Does anyone read my posts?!

Anthony Thompson
August 1, 2014 8:14 am

A very interesting (but not surprising) article. Nice to see you back, BTW! It was lonely being the only ‘Anthony’ here. : D

Stephan
August 1, 2014 8:41 am

@8. Anthony Pascale

We will respect that. I just was glad to read your name again. ;-)

Red Dead Ryan
August 1, 2014 8:42 am

Leonard Nimoy did a tremendous thing for a cast member who had two knocks against her, one being female and the other being of colour. He most likely risked his (and perhaps Nichelle Nicholls’) job seeing as how studios were (and still are, in many cases) quick to fire those who stand up to them. What a class guy!

Jason
August 1, 2014 9:16 am

Good for Mr. Nimoy!

TrekmadeMeWonder
August 1, 2014 9:42 am

A N Y B O D Y ! ! ! < – Said in a hollering Riker voice.

August 1, 2014 9:59 am

Mr. Nimoy isn’t just an excellent actor; he’s also an excellent human being … and that’s far more important. It was lovely to read this additional example of his doing the right thing.

Disinvited
August 1, 2014 12:06 pm

Here in SoCal we know what a cool cat Nimoy is from his (and his wife’s) long time support of various needs of charity. Perhaps the most recent being their substantial contributions to the GRIFFITH PARK OBSERVATORY restoration and expansion.

He has often said he is nothing like his character, Spock, being far too emotional which, perhaps, is best exemplified by the largesse of his heart. Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, you are not only a mensch but a real gem.

Disinvited
August 1, 2014 12:17 pm

#23. TrekmadeMeWonder – August 1, 2014

It’s a safe bet that you are read. You just don’t always communicate as effectively as you imagine.

“Thanks for the article hyperlink, Anthony.” — TrekmadeMeWonder

The article contains 3 hyperlinks:

1. Las Vegas Sun

2. hot topic it is today.

3. mensch

Why do you assume readers just KNEW which one to which you were referring? On first reading, I thought you were referring to #1.

Marja
August 1, 2014 12:46 pm

6 Rod and
14 Mel, In Yiddish and in common usage by non-German speakers, it not only means “man” but “good man.” That’s the way I meant it anyways!

Odradek
August 1, 2014 4:03 pm

German interpretation of the term “Mensch”:

Denn wovon lebt der Mensch? Indem er stündlich
Den Menschen peinigt, auszieht, anfällt, abwürgt und frißt.
Nur dadurch lebt der Mensch, daß er so gründlich
Vergessen kann, dass er ein Mensch doch ist.

Ihr Herren, bildet euch nur da nichts ein:
Der Mensch lebt nur von Missetat allein!

Harry Ballz
August 1, 2014 6:06 pm

Ah, and what a soft, lilting, warm, romantic language it is, too.

Disinvited
August 1, 2014 9:33 pm

# 29. Harry Ballz – August 1, 2014

” Ah, and what a soft, lilting, warm, romantic language it is, too.” — Harry Ballz

As exemplified by ‘Silent Night’ in its original German.

Son of Jello
August 1, 2014 9:33 pm

Zoe taking her clothes of has really advanced the cause for taking women seriously. Its good to see that the people who were raised in the 60s and are now in a position to make change are Putting Alice Eve in a bikini. It really does show that nothing has happened in the past 50 years and the 60s was self indulgent BS. Which has advanced nothing but an increase in equality between all people.

Why didn’t leonard nimoy with his influence say “Im not doing this movie (new ST) If Uhura’s only purpose is to be all doe eyed and girly around spock as Its humiliating for both charactors Then why didn’t he go on to mention your turning this character (uhura) in to a stupid little girl worried about her boyfriend and has little tantrums and throws her earpiece at the console just to show that yes Woman are emotional and lovestruck beings and can contributed nothing but double entendre’s about aural sensitivity and weeping with concern because that’s just what woman do.

What advances have been made? none woman are still there for their body and their emotional dedication to the man they are in love with…. see ST 09 an ITD or any movie from any time period.

Nice puff piece about leonard :)

Son of Jello
August 1, 2014 9:40 pm

The article is about equality for women. But who comes out of it smelling of roses and the subject of praise and admiration. The male of the peice who by the way is still being payed more than the woman. Goooooooooooooo men.

Odradek
August 2, 2014 1:21 am

# Disinvited – August 1, 2014

As exemplified by ‘Silent Night’ in its original German.

Or as by this gentelman, who clearly is enjoying the German sound:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkc56z0z4qw

Kev-1
August 2, 2014 7:27 am

Interesting article. Certainly NIchols deserved the same pay as Takei and Koenig, who came in later. I believe Nimoy also held out on STTMP until Paramount agreed to pay for using his likeness on merchandising — this also helped Shatner. Impressive. Can’t believe they were not going to use the full cast for TAS. As terrific as the Star Trek leads are, the supporting cast is just as important. But then, they were going to do TMP without any original cast, so…

Sunfell
August 2, 2014 9:37 am

Great article! Leonard wrote about his battles with the studio in his book “I Am Spock”. He really is a mensch.

Also, welcome back, Anthony Pascale! We’ve missed you. :-)

Harry Ballz
August 2, 2014 10:01 pm

Oy, indeed!

Personally, I’m more interested in the smouldering look Nichelle is giving Leonard in the top photo. And I do mean Nichelle and Leonard, not Uhura and Spock.

Nichelle looks like she wants to do Leonard right there on the floor of the bridge.

Disinvited
August 3, 2014 7:14 am

#36. Anthony Pascale – August 2, 2014

Oy, you’re such a mensch, AP.

Welcome back.

Disinvited
August 3, 2014 7:22 am

# 37. Harry Ballz – August 2, 2014

I think you bring out the questionable in me. I recall on THE BIG BANG THEORY they established the worth of a signed napkin with Nimoy’s saliva therein. Can you imagine the value of those costumes if they had been “enhanced” in a manner much as evidence in President Clinton’s impeachment was?

Harry Ballz
August 3, 2014 9:10 am

@39

Oh, come now, Disinvited.

Even though I do agree that the lovely Nichelle Nichols on TOS was certainly spackable.

Curious Cadet
August 3, 2014 9:56 am
Michael Hall
August 3, 2014 2:57 pm

That’s an awesome still of Spock and Uhura (no, not geek enough to know which episode it’s from). Zoe Saldana is an attractive woman by any standards, but Ms. Nichols makes her look like a tomboy.

boborci
August 3, 2014 4:19 pm

Spock/Nimoy is the moral center of Trek.

Disinvited
August 3, 2014 5:40 pm

#42. Michael Hall – August 3, 2014

Me neither but Kirk is wearing the green wrap around tunic without the golden shoulder bit. How many episodes could that be?

Curious Cadet
August 3, 2014 5:42 pm

@43. boborci,
“Spock/Nimoy is the moral center of Trek.”

Well that’s interesting considering that role traditionally went to Bones.

Harry Ballz
August 3, 2014 11:56 pm

@43

Bob, are you implying that Shatner is immoral?

Disinvited
August 4, 2014 4:38 am

#46. Harry Ballz – August 3, 2014

Are you implying that Bob’s implying that Bones is amoral?

Jemini
August 4, 2014 7:04 am
31. Son of Jello – August 1, 2014 “Why didn’t leonard nimoy with his influence say “Im not doing this movie (new ST) If Uhura’s only purpose is to be all doe eyed and girly around spock as Its humiliating for both charactors Then why didn’t he go on to mention your turning this character (uhura) in to a stupid little girl worried about her boyfriend and has little tantrums and throws her earpiece at the console just to show that yes Woman are emotional and lovestruck beings and can contributed nothing but double entendre’s about aural sensitivity and weeping with concern because that’s just what woman do. ” ———————————– he didn’t because Nimoy, unlike you, watched the actual movies ;) words of wisdom: “There is no way in the world that a Star Trek film will please every Star Trek follower or fan, no way. And to try to would be a death sentence, you just can’t. You twist yourself into pretzels over ‘what are they going to say about this’…for god’s sake what are people going to say about Uhura and Spock having the relationship they have in this movie? What? I thought it was wonderful and touching and effective.” TrekMovie: Once you mentioned that he [Zachary Quinto] did something that blew you away. I am curious now that I have seen the film, what was it that you went ‘oh that is really interesting’? Leonard Nimoy: His relationship with Uhura, he played something that I was quite… Read more »
Jemini
August 4, 2014 7:29 am

45. Curious Cadet – August 3, 2014

@43. boborci,
“Spock/Nimoy is the moral center of Trek.”

Well that’s interesting considering that role traditionally went to Bones.

——————

traditionally by who? The fans?
I love Bones, love me some Bones but frankly, he could be quite racist with Spock in a way that, if I stop and think about it more seriously, it rubs me in the wrong way in the context of the story. The only reason he gets a free pass is because people find the scenes funny and they like being reminded of Spock’s alieness, even though that, in context of story, is quite sad. We like seeing this character telling Spock that he’s ‘wrong’ (literally) and an outsider, even if it’s not right because after all it’s a spaceship where you have people from different planets and cultures, earth and humans shouldn’t be the default anymore and their ‘moral’ shouldn’t be presented as ‘superior’.
Bones was, from a certain perspective, not so different from the vulcan kids that tormented Spock as a kid.
It was part of his dynamic with Spock, sure, it created some fun interactions.
But calling Bones the moral center of the show is pretentious because you’re still talking about someone who could be quite intolerant with a member of his crew (and a friend) for the sole reason that he was not human or like him.

Harry Ballz
August 4, 2014 9:17 am

@47

Disinvited, I think we can both agree that Kirk was so busy getting HIS bone polished, who had time for morals?

TrekMadeMeWonder
August 4, 2014 11:57 am

43. boborci

Trek’s moral center, as I see it, is most appropriately understood after listening to a long conversation with Kirk Spock and McCoy.

Perhaps this will make you wonder as well, Disinvited.

Disinvited
August 4, 2014 12:14 pm

#51. TrekMadeMeWonder – August 4, 2014

It does and I am beginning to see where the Spock as a strange visitor from a foreign planet superhero arc is coming from. And I’m starting to think that under that Kirk is Batman and McCoy’s Robin.

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