If you have ever heard the name Nimoy, odds are, you are thinking about Leonard Nimoy. You know, the Vulcan named Spock who split his fingers into a “V.” Well, it turns out he isn’t the only Nimoy around.
Jeff and Leonard are second cousins once removed. That means Leonard’s father Max and Jeff’s grandfather Irving were first cousins. Though they didn’t meet for the first time until Jeff was 16, they became really close, and Leonard even helped Jeff many times when it came to the entertainment industry.
Jeff working on “Funny About Love,” starring Gene Wilder and Christine Lahti, directed by Leonard Nimoy
Jeff and Leonard Nimoy
“Leonard was always a presence in my life,” Jeff said. “’Star Trek’ and I were born only months apart. I grew up with him.”
Jeff recalled growing up and watching Leonard on “Star Trek” with his family. They would all exclaim, “That’s your cousin!” and not really watch the episode itself. Jeff would go on to hear stories about Leonard from his parents and grandparents.
When Jeff was 16, his family made a trip out to California to visit Leonard and the other family members, and a bond was formed.
“Growing up, he wasn’t really that much of an inspiration to me because I didn’t know him. It was only after I met him and became close to him that he became an inspiration to me,” Jeff said.
Jeff’s sisters at a Bar Mitzvah with Leonard
Jeff’s grandparents and Leonard
A few years later while Jeff was at NYU getting his degree, he read in a newspaper that Leonard was coming to New York to film “Three Men and a Baby.” Jeff immediately called Walt Disney Studios and was transferred to Leonard’s office so he could ask for a job. Jeff remembered worrying that Leonard had forgotten who he was and that he would be called a “fake.”
Instead, Leonard’s secretary told him to be on location at 6 a.m. the next morning.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing or what I was hired for,” Jeff said. “I just went.”
Jeff was hired as a production assistant. He worked hard during his two weeks on location and became one of the top production assistants on the shoot.
He described the last day of the shoot– which was also his 20th birthday – and doing crowd control. He started improvising and managed to make the crowd erupt in laughter. Jeff looked over and saw Leonard give him a nod and thumbs up. Later that night at the wrap party, everyone complimented him on his good work, including Ted Danson (Sam from “Cheers”), who was bartending.
“’What’ll you have, Jeff?’” he asked. “I said, ‘Ted, I am underage, I can’t drink.’ He poured me a triple vodka and a 7-Up,” Jeff laughed. “I didn’t see any other PA’s getting poured by Ted Danson.”
Jeff on Leonard Nimoy Way at Paramount Studios
Two years later, Jeff graduated from NYU and, with some urging from Leonard, moved to California, where the two became even closer.
“We would see each other pretty frequently. He would give me a lot of advice,” Jeff said.
Leonard helped Jeff get his SAG card, land a spot in another movie (“Funny About Love”) and spent hours talking to him about life, the entertainment industry and more.
“He was really great to me, very generous. He was a really generous guy and wonderful with a great sense of humor,” Jeff said.
Read more about Jeff’s relationship with Leonard Nimoy, who sadly passed away in 2015, in Jeff’s article: https://medium.com/@jeffnimoy/the-other-nimoy-these-are-the-voyages-of-a-second-cousin-once-removed-1cfe62290ad6.