Leonard Nimoy was set to appear at the 2006 Fan Expo in Toronto, along with William Shatner. I needed something unique to get signed; I already had a couple 8x10s and the cast-signed photo from The Score Board. eBay to the rescue. I found an American Cancer Society poster, featuring Leonard Nimoy as Spock. At the time, it was just a unique and interesting item for an autograph; no one knew that Nimoy would announce in 2014 that he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He would die within a year, even though he had quit smoking 30 years earlier.
At Fan Expo, Nimoy and Shatner sat together at a long autograph table. The fans lined up, bought small tickets — one colour for Leonard, a different colour for Bill — and then passed an item and a ticket to an assistant. My poster and my ticket were duly handed over, Nimoy signed and pushed the poster down the table and, hardly looking up, Shatner signed it as well.
I was horrified. Spock was on the poster, Kirk was not. And then, five seconds later, I saw the humour of the situation. And I got a free autograph.
I would like to say that Nimoy looked up from the item, met my gaze, and took the time to tell me that this campaign was meaningful to him, that after struggling to quit smoking he was proud to encourage others to do the same. But that didn’t happen. He signed, slid the poster over and took an 8×10 from the assistant beside him. He had a big line to get through, and we both moved on.
Years later, when he died, I went down to my Star Trek room and looked at the poster. I hope it did encourage some people to quit, and that he was proud of that. It’s one of my favourite collectibles.