Nimoy-Gate: When Leonard Nimoy Came to Cottey

On April 3rd, 1973, Leonard Nimoy came to Cottey – but not without controversy. He gave an evening lecture, "The Life and Death of a Series Character", to a full audience in Rosemary Auditorium.1,2 Nimoy was scheduled to meet informally with students at the B.I.L. Lodge earlier that day, but canceled it at the last minute.*3 Students were disappointed and dismayed. Karen O'Leary, a Cottey Senior at the time, noted, "Word got out that several students were planning to boycott his lecture, so the administration made it known to the student body that attendance would be taken that evening."3

The events that followed have turned into legend. Former Cottey professor Charles Nash claimed that "Mr. Nimoy showed up so royally sauced that he preferred lying down on the floor of Rosemary Auditorium to standing behind the podium."4 However, this was not the case. Nimoy did not appear drunk at the lecture, just "somewhat disoriented and moody," as attendee Randy Jiner puts it.5 Jiner lived in Nevada when Nimoy came to town, and came to see his Star Trek hero. "[Nimoy] pissed us all off right at the beginning because the microphone was making noise or something," he recalls. "He snickered and sneered, 'Expensive microphone.' That was rude. The girls did everything they could to make him feel at home, and he seemed to look down on it all."

Nimoy gave Nevada's notoriously foul water a try during the lecture. "He asked for a glass of water and the audience went 'Woooooooo!' in anticipation. The look on his face was priceless. Needless to say, he didn't like it. He said it tasted like something they used on Vulcan for medicinal purposes."5 The Daily Mail described Nimoy "rambl[ing] across the stage as he spoke, drinking enormous quantities of Nevada water, which he compared to an acid used in one series."1

As Golden Key president, Karen O'Leary was charged with planning a reception for Mr. Nimoy after his address. Nimoy "was so rude to the students that only the administration and a few faculty showed up…"3 Star Trek had been a favorite show of Cotteyites, but “you could walk all over campus the next week at 4:00 and not see one student watching Star Trek reruns… It was quite the phenomena!"


* Oddly, the Nevada Daily Mail states that this meeting did happen, and even recounts what was supposedly discussed, "from politics to sensuality."1

Works Cited:

  1. "Nimoy Gives Inside View of Acting." Nevada Daily Mail [Nevada, MO] 4 Apr. 1973: 9. Google news. Web.
  2. "Personal Mentions.” Nevada Daily Mail [Nevada, MO] 4 Apr. 1973: 3. Google news. Web.
  3. O’Leary, Karen. Message to the author. 2-3 Apr. 2010. Facebook.
  4. Nash, Charles C. "Lansing and Byer—here’s looking at you, kids!" Nevada Daily Mail [Nevada, MO] 1 Apr. 2001: 4A. Web. (See also: Nash, Dr. Charles. “Memories of Inez Byer.” Cottey Viewpoint. Winter 2008. Print.)
  5. Jiner, Randy. Message to the author. Feb. 2011. E-mail.
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