Leonard Nimoy goes in search of the unexplained (and scary!)
In the 1954 sci-fi creature feature Them!, Leonard Nimoy had an even smaller part than he had in Zombies of the Stratosphere. He played an unnamed officer serving in what seems to be an Army “X-Files” outfit investigating all kinds of “strange phenomena,” including “flying saucers.”
(Wondering about those sweet and strange aromas on the department’s big board? Them! is all about giant, mutant ants created by nuclear radiation. So where there are sweet and strange aromas—perhaps not unlike those Captain Kirk smells in “Obsession”—freakish insects are sure to follow.)
It’s not a very consequential role, but it did presage Nimoy’s tenure (1976-1982) as host of the documentary series In Search of… .
In each episode, Nimoy guided viewers on a tour of such enduring, unexplained mysteries as Bigfoot, Atlantis, the fate of Amelia Earhart, ESP, the Loch Ness Monster, and more. The show wasn’t science fiction per se, but it usually didn’t qualify as science fact either. as each installment’s “disclaimer” during the introduction implied.
I vividly remember watching In Search of… on a regular basis as a kid, long before I ever saw my first Star Trek episode.
Usually, I found the topics fascinating (as a certain Vulcan science officer might say). Once, I even made my own deck of ESP cards to see if I could pass the kind of psychic tests I’d seen on the show. Alas, I could not. Unlike Elizabeth Dehner or Gary Mitchell, my “esper rating” must be low indeed.
But one In Search of… episode traumatized me: the 1977 show on “Killer Bees.” This one was grounded in scientific fact—frightening fact. After watching it, I was convinced I’d walk right into a swarm of Africanized honey bees on my way home from school some day! Thanks for the nightmares, Leonard Nimoy!
Fun fact: When The History Channel revived In Search of… a few years back, it tapped Zachary Quinto, who followed in Leonard Nimoy’s footsteps as Spock, to follow in his footsteps here, as well.