By Megan SpeciaFeb 27, 2015
Before Leonard Nimoy played the iconic role of Spock on Star Trek, he was already an advocate for the preservation of outer space, as well as life on Earth.
In July 1962, the United States was preparing to test a hydrogen bomb by detonating it in outer space, 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean, as part of the Starfish Prime nuclear test. Nimoy, it seems, believed this was a bad idea, and that then-President John F. Kennedy should think twice about it.
See also: Leonard Nimoy dies at 83
Among the artifacts at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston is a small pink telegram with a simple message of peace from Nimoy and his wife Sandra to Kennedy, urging the president to cancel the bomb's detonation.
In it, Nimoy calls on Kennedy "in the name of decency" to avoid polluting the environment with a bomb, and to preserve children's right to "breathe clean air."
Controversially, on July 9, 1962, the detonation of the hydrogen bomb went ahead despite international opposition. The explosion illuminated the sky over Hawaii, resulting in blackouts and strange electrical malfunctions, and causing radioactive particles to settle in the Earth's atmosphere.
Interestingly, Nimoy first encountered Kennedy years before either had become a household name, when the actor picked up the then-Massachusetts senator in a cab at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles.
“I felt this sense of having touched him somewhere along the line,” Nimoy said in an interview about the encounter. “Kennedy became nationally known at that convention, and I felt a great sense of being in touch with destiny then. It seemed that the man just had to go where he was going.”
Nimoy died on Friday at the age of 83.
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