Spock once picked up JFK in his cab

Before he navigated the stars, Leonard Nimoy navigated the streets of L.A. as a cab driver.

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Actors often struggle at the beginning of their careers. The jobs are few and far between when you're first starting out. The gigs you do land aren't exactly a money faucet, either. Sometimes, actors have to go after side hustles to stay financially afloat. Especially if an actor is ineligible for equity wages, supplementing that meager income is the only way to survive.

That was the case for Leonard Nimoy before he boarded the USS Enterprise on Star Trek. Before he donned those iconic pointy ears, Nimoy wore many hats, a veritable Vulcan jack-of-all-trades. He was a salesman, hawking vacuum cleaners and freezers. Nimoy worked at a pet store. He put smiles on faces scooping ice cream. He serviced vending machines and managed apartment buildings. At one point, before he was known to the entire galaxy, Leonard Nimoy even installed and did maintenance on fish tanks. 

In a time before he navigated the stars, Leonard Nimoy navigated the streets of Los Angeles as a cab driver. He'd just left the military (between 1953 and 1955, Nimoy served his country as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army Special Services). Nimoy spent all day looking for acting work, and at night, he'd pick up and drop off passengers throughout the city.

"I got a call to go to the Bel Air Hotel to pick up a Mr. Kennedy," Nimoy told the Tampa Tribune. The year was 1956. "It was a highly political time — right before the convention — and Stevenson and Kefauver were running strong." [Notably, that same Stevenson (Adlai) was the cousin of M*A*S*H's McLean Stevenson, who was running the political hopeful's campaign.] 

"When I got to the Bel Air, I asked the doorman if I was waiting for the Senator from Massachusetts. He said he didn't know. When Kennedy came down, the doorman whispered to me, 'Is this guy a senator?'" 

Two soon-to-be icons found themselves in the same car. Neither of them could've predicted how much their cultural cachet would grow through the 1960s. So, what would you have heard as a fly-on-the-wall as that cab left the Bel Air Hotel?

"As Kennedy got in the cab, I said, 'How are things up in Massachusetts, Senator?' He perked up. He said, 'Are you from Massachusetts?' He asked me so many questions — he was so socially oriented — he asked me why I was in California, where my folks came from, why they came to America, and what they thought of [me] being an actor."

Naturally, the conversation turned to politics. "I asked him about Stevenson's chances," said Nimoy. "And he said, 'You meet a lot of people, what do you think?" It seems the then-senator was already trained to tread carefully when discussing political opponents. "I asked him what would happen if Stevenson won the nomination but lost the election. He said, 'He'd be finished politically.' That was the one flat statement he made about politics."

As all cab rides do, that fateful one eventually ended. When it did, it became immediately clear that JFK was not carrying any cash. After dropping Kennedy off at the Beverly Hilton, Leonard Nimoy had to follow the president-to-be into the hotel's lobby to collect his $1.25 fare from someone JFK knew. Not only was Nimoy reimbursed, but he also got a $1.75 tip!

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30 Comments

Snickers 13 months ago
How cool is that? Picking up the future president in your cab and he was a big tipper too.
Runeshaper 13 months ago
That’s super neat! Thanks for sharing, MeTV. Live long and prosper 🖖
JHP 13 months ago
ahhhhh "just one more thing"

I really enjoyed Nimoy as a perp on Columbo
LoveMETV22 JHP 13 months ago
"ahhhhh "just one more thing"
----------------------------
I tried to stop at one more thing....but then I remembered what Latka once said:
JHP LoveMETV22 13 months ago
well - you opened a can of good worms

Taxi - coming on Me-TV?
LoveMETV22 JHP 13 months ago
Well seeing we gave Latka his say so on what one needs, it would be a shame not to let
Steve Martin have his say.

--------------------------------------------------------------
"well - you opened a can of good worms

Taxi - coming on Me-TV?"

"Yes"- that would be a good addition to their program schedule.
JHP LoveMETV22 13 months ago
I absolutely love Steve - but never saw the movie:(
JHP 13 months ago
Am still scratching my nogging about this one - so a politician took a cab? - YIKES!
Cougar90 13 months ago
Mimi Kennedy of "Mom" once met then Senator JFK on an airline flight. They compared family histories and found they were eighth cousins.
CaptainDunsel 13 months ago
"Actors often struggle at the beginning of their careers."

Sometimes throughout their careers.
Here's one of the best barbers I ever frequented, from 1984 to 1991.
KJExpress CaptainDunsel 13 months ago
Really? How cool! 🖖
tootsieg 13 months ago
Great article. I never knew Adlai Stevenson and McLean Stevenson were related.
Bapa1 tootsieg 13 months ago
They lived very close to each other. Adlai was much older than McLean, and use to babysit him.
Bapa1 13 months ago
Cool article. 1956. I think by then Nimoy had his bit part in 'Them' and maybe had done some Seahunts.
Andybandit 13 months ago
How cool is that Lenord Nimoy picked JFK in his cab.
KJExpress 13 months ago
Interesting story. A cabbie meets all sorts of people.
texasluva 13 months ago
Here is Leonard Nimoy playing in Zombies of the Stratosphere in 1952. Character Narab.

MrsPhilHarris texasluva 13 months ago
Really? Which one? 🤔
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
The one on the Left.
KJExpress texasluva 13 months ago
Good lord! I guess you pretty much take any role you can get. It could lead to a foot in the door somewhere.
texasluva KJExpress 13 months ago
Remember Steve McQueen in The Blob (1958). Though there was no Zombies, just a Blob. Ended up in a Cult Classic. Can't say that Leonard Nimoy's case in that will be a well remembered flick. I may have to dust off my PC memory banks just in case it's there somewhere 😏. Have a super copy of The Blob I will show again soon. Has a catchy opening.
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 13 months ago
Wow! I never would have guessed that was Leonard Nimoy. 🤔
KJExpress texasluva 13 months ago
I saw The Blob on tv back in the 70's. All I can remember is when it squeezed through a ventilator. Lol.
texasluva 13 months ago
$1.75 Tip? Now days that might not get you a cup of coffee. Right around that time Minimum wage was $1.00 an hour. 1963 it went to $1.25 an hour from $1.15 an hour in 1961. Times have changed where some at McDonalds making $15 an hour or more. Then again gas in those parts around $5+ a gallon. Remember when you could fill your tank for five bucks?
justjeff texasluva 13 months ago
I do... and in 1963 Miami, they were having "gas wars" until the state put a stop to it because of unfair competition... When I started high school in 1967, Minimum Wage was still $1.25/hour, but you could buy a large (16") pizza for $1.75 or 25 cents per slice.

I'd gladly accept a lower income if the dollar could be that strong again. Remember when "one week's pay equalled one month's rent"? Here in South Florida you'd have to currently work at McDonald's for at least 3 weeks (after deductions) to just pay the rent, then - once you factor in utilities, food, gas, auto insurance, etc. most people would be in the negative number territory...

However, speaking of work... here's some upcoming font design projects I'm adding to my already full "to do" pile...
tootsieg justjeff 13 months ago
Nice font designs. I like the first and last the best.
Cougar90 justjeff 13 months ago
They look like the lettering for movie credits.
justjeff tootsieg 13 months ago
Thank you!
justjeff Cougar90 13 months ago
Close guess! The original inspirations all came from movie industry ads placed in a (now defunct) film industry trade paper called Wid's Daily/Film Daily between 1918 and 1936...
MadMadMadWorld justjeff 13 months ago
I lived in South Florida between 1963-1967. Until 1965, all dimes-quarters-halves were 90% silver with the dollar defined as a weight of silver, and the dollar was convertable into gold at $35/oz. The government after Aug. 15, 1971, then got rid of the dollar in its definition as a mere weight of gold. Since then, the 'dollar' is merely a piece of government/central bank paper with some ink slapped on it, with no limit on the Central Bank's (Federal Reserve cartel) creating as much of it as its elitist managers feel like. Causing constant, destructive boom-bust economic cycles that hurt the poor, working and middle classes.
texasluva 13 months ago
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