Ah, Spockmania. The Boston Globe used the phrase to describe the reaction to Leonard Nimoy's pointy-eared Vulcan officer as early as 1967.
Nobody, least of all Leonard Nimoy, was prepared for the massive fan reaction that Spock would gather. In his 1995 book I Am Spock, the actor described the first reaction that an outsider had to him in makeup. "I was in full Vulcan regalia when [my agent] came to visit me. He was accompanied by a client, a lovely Irish actress named Maura McGiveney." You may know McGiveney from her appearances on TV shows like Perry Mason and Adam-12.
"I believe Miss McGiveney was the first person off the street to see me in my Spock costume... 'Oh,' she breathed, lifting a hand to my — excuse me, to Spock's — ears. 'May I touch them? They're so attractive...' It was the first inkling I had of Spock's effect on women."
That effect was laid out even more clearly when he received laundry bags of fan mail weekly. He only appeared in public once in his full Spock makeup, for a small-town parade in 1967, and quickly swore to never do it again for his own safety.
"The problem came after, when I was taken to a nearby park. A table was set up at the bandstand so that I could sign autographs. But instead of the hundreds I'd hoped to see, there were thousands of people there. They surged forward so quickly that I was terrified someone would be crushed to death; and then they started pressing against the bandstand so hard it began to sway beneath my feet! The people with me soon realized we were in trouble. Fortunately, the local police came to the rescue and pulled me through the throng!"
Not long after, he visited a Long Island department store to promote his album, Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space. He was signing autographs, protected from the crowd on either side of his counter by gates. But at one point the crowd grew too rowdy, the gates began to collapse. Nimoy stood on the counter and attempted to calm the fray, but at that point the crowd was in too much of a frenzy to listen. "Finally, the manager grabbed my arm and said, 'Let's get out of here!'"
They bolted and made it to the manager's office, where they locked the door. However, they soon realized that they were trapped! There was no way out of the building than down and through the crowd they'd just escaped.
"But the manager was a resourceful man," Nimoy wrote, "and said, 'Wait a minute. We can't go down because of all the people. But we can go up. There's a back stairway that leads to the roof...'"
A quick call to the fire department, and soon a fire truck pulled up around the back, safely away from the eyes of Spock-crazed fans. "I went up to the roof, climbed down the provided fire ladder, and made good my escape!"
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