Leonard Nimoy Chastises 1982 Starlog Magazine For Running A False Wrath Of Khan Rumor
While Star Trek fans will likely be arguing the merits of Into Darkness for years to come, one of the biggest parts of its legacy is the parade of rumors in the months leading up to the release, and the lengths to which director J.J. Abrams went to in order to preserve his secrets. In the age of the internet, rumors are par for the course, (we at least try not to take all the speculation too seriously), but crazy rumors didn’t arrive solely with the birth of the internet. Back in the pre-web era, a die-hard fan would have to hit up conventions, or scour magazines like Starlog. Sometimes, those magazines would get something wrong — it happens to the best of us — but it’s still got to sting when you report a rumor about Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy…and then get called out about it by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy.
As reported by The Huffington Post, it happened in January 1982, when Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was still some five months away. Given the huge nature of Spock’s death in the film, it’s not surprising that rumors of the twist had already begun swirling in fan circles. But Starlog apparently reported not only the rumor, but that Spock’s death was instigated at the request of the actor who played him. So Nimoy sent Starlog a letter:
In the November issue you report that the death of Spock was ‘brought about by Leonard Nimoy’s request.’
In your January issue you reiterated the same report and then you quoted ‘Star Trek II’ executive producer Harve Bennett as saying ‘… Nimoy did not insist on killing the character as a prerequisite to his appearing in the second film.’
I was not contacted for a statement, but here it is: Harve Bennett was right, you were wrong …… twice.
Yours for more accurate journalism,
As with many rumors, this one seems to be close to the truth, but off base in an important way. The 1982 book The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan explains that Spock’s death wasn’t demanded by Nimoy, but it was the carrot that lured the actor back for the sequel. After all, who doesn’t love a good death scene? It was a good call, because Spock’s death is to this day one of the most iconic in movie history. And the experience was obviously a good one, since Nimoy returned for all four of the original-cast movies that were to follow.
You can read about a ton of other early ‘80s sci-fi rumors over at THP, all culled from vintage issues of Starlog. I particularly like the one where a reader complains about Han Solo’s “I know” line to Leia after she says she loves him in The Empire Strikes Back. It may have put a twist in that fella’s britches, but I think it worked out okay in the long run…