Entertainment

Spock's ears: A signature — and a burden — for Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at age 83, likely had the most famous lobes in Hollywood.

Reluctant actor was promised ears would go if fans didn't like them

Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock, seen with Star Trek co-stars William Shatner, DeForest Kelley and James Doohan, became one of the most recognizable characters on television thanks to his outsized ears. Nimoy, 83, died on Friday. (Paramount Television,File/AP )

Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at age 83, likely had the most famous lobes in Hollywood.

As the logical half-human, half-alien Mr. Spock in Star Trek, his pointy Vulcan appendages became a signature — and a nuisance — for the actor.

Here are a few facts about those iconic ears:

  • Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was determined to have Nimoy don pointed ears as the Enterprise's chief science officer. It was easier said than done. Before the first episode was filmed, numerous designs of the ears' shape and size were created before he settled on the perfect ears.
  • Roddenberry promised a reluctant Nimoy that if the pointy ears didn't appeal to the viewing public after the initial episodes of Trek that he would arrange for Spock to undergo "ear job" and they would be removed. Instead, the character was a hit and no such operation was performed.
  • The early ears were made of foam rubber and had to be glued on every morning. The process usually required Nimoy to be in the make-up chair for about 45 minutes each day. However, applying Spock's slanted eyebrows typically took twice as long. The process was eventually streamlined, and Spock's ears were made of latex and cranked out on an assembly line.
  • Over the years, the lobes and their moulds turned up in various celebrity auctions. A pair is on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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