Less than a month since Leonard Nimoy's death, former "Star Trek" co-star George Takei shared fond memories of the late actor.
"He was a dear friend, but also he was, as Gene Roddenberry used to say, 'The conscience of 'Star Trek,'" George told Access Hollywood at The Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Gala on Saturday night.
He gave a specific example of when Leonard – who died on February 27 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 83 – showed his true colors as a loyal friend.
"When 'Star Trek' was going to be done as an animated cartoon series, [William Shatner] and Leonard and Jimmy Doohan and Majel Barrett were hired to do the voices and they said there wasn't enough in the budget to hire Nichelle [Nichols] and me and Walter [Koenig]... so the project was going to go ahead with that setup," he said of the cartoon, which aired from 1973-1975. "But, when Leonard found out about that, he said, 'Oh, no no. This can't move forward because 'Star Trek' is about diversity, coming together and working as a team. And the two people that most represent diversity, that most personify diversity, are Nichelle Nichols and George Takei and if they're not gonna be a part of this, then I won't be a part of it.'"
George – who played Sulu – expressed how grateful he was for his co-star to present this ultimatum to the series' creators, so that the original cast could contribute their voices to the animated versions of their beloved characters.
"He put his own job on the line for us, and because Spock is absolutely essential for any 'Star Trek' project, they finally, suddenly found the money for us in the budget and so, Nichelle and I joined the cast as voices for our characters," he said. "They couldn't quite find the money for Walter, so they promised him a writing gig on that. But Leonard, [was] that kind of guy."
George will soon share screen time with another TV legend, Betty White, when he guest stars on her hit comedy series, "Hot in Cleveland."
"It's a lot of fun. Betty White is a dynamo," he said. "We were celebrating a wedding on the episode in which I appear and I am the officiant. I am Father Takei."
The episode will air April 15 on TV Land.
-- Paige Feigenbaum