Leonard Nimoy at age 20, an actor ready to live long and prosper


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I’ve been going through the old photo files at the Los Angeles Times library in search of Hollywood artifacts of fanboy interest, and I came across a doozy today. Take a look at future ‘Star Trek’ icon Leonard Nimoy as photographed in the Feb. 18, 1952 edition of The Times.

The article that accompanied the photo was an odd one and shows the tone (not to mention the casual sexism) of mainstream Tinseltown coverage of that era. But, of course, it’s still far less crass and raunchy than anything TMZ does these days.

The ‘news’ here was a judge approving Nimoy’s contract with Jack Broder Productions -- the approval was needed since, by 1952 legal standards, a 20-year-old was considered a minor. After the jump, you can find a portion of the article, which actually uses the word ‘logically’ (Vulcan foreshadowing!) and then goes on to describe Nimoy’s female friend in the photo as a ‘cute tomato’ with a ‘snug skirt.’

The article which appeared with on page A9 with no byline ( you think a publicist might have written it?) was right next to the astrology column and a furniture ad:

It Takes a Pretty Miss to Score With Lensman When Leonard Nimoy, 20, went before Superior Court Judge Frank G. Swain and received approval of his 10-picture contract with Jack Broder Productions, the next move was to have been in a picture in The Times. However the photographer was not impressed with a contract approval in which the minor was the only other guy. ‘Who wants to look at a picture of a guy?’ he asked logically, for a photographer. Go get a cute tomato and pose with her, and we’ll get your picture in the paper.’ Nimoy left and brought back Mona Knox, with whom he is currently making a picture, ‘Kid Monk Baroni.’ ‘I’m a fighter in it, and she’s my feminine interest,’ he explained. ‘She takes my dough in the picture.’

There’s a bit of scrambled text in the next paragraph, but it essentially says that the judge approved the contract that would pay Nimoy $200 a week and add a $25-per-week raise after every second film. The paragraph also notes that the 22-year-old Mona was wearing ‘a white sweater and snug skirt.’ The final paragraph: ‘The photographer approved of Mona.’ Sheesh.

Knox, by the way, had a career that stretched into the 1960s but never really moved to center stage. The Oklahoma native died earlier this year in West Hollywood. According to her IMDB entry, she had about two dozen roles through the years, but many of them were uncredited bit parts, such as her final screen appearance, which was in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ in 1968. She popped up in episodes of ‘The Donna Reed Show,’ ‘The Untouchables’ and one installment of ‘Space Patrol,’ an Emmy-nominated sci-fi series about a space travelers from Earth exploring distant planets. That show aired from 1950 to 1955, which you could call a five-year mission. Hey that sounds familiar...

Nimoy is now 77 and will be appearing on screen next year in the reboot of the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise. I’m going to get in touch with his representatives and send him a nice print of this photo, which I suspect he hasn’t seen (or thought about) in decades.


-- Geoff Boucher

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Feburary 1952 photograph of Leonard Nimoy and Mona Knox by Gordon Wallace\Los Angeles Times