Simpsons Showrunner Al Jean Remembers Leonard Nimoy

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Leonard Nimoy appears in "The Springfield Files" (20th Century Fox). Photo: 20th Century Fox.

As any Simpsons superfan can tell you, there was no guest-star quite like the late Leonard Nimoy. The Star Trek legend made two extremely memorable appearances on the series, both as himself. The first was 1993's Conan O'Brienpenned "Marge vs. the Monorail," in which he was the guest of honor for the first ride of Springfield's monorail (and spent much of that ride boring the hell out of a fellow passenger who has zero interest in his Trek tales). He returned for 1997's "The Springfield Files," providing further delight by delivering a send-up of introductions to overwrought mystery shows. Longtime Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean got in touch with us today and gave us his thoughts and memories about working with Nimoy. Here's what he said, in full:

When we were producing the Simpsons monorail episode that Conan had written, we were hoping to get George Takei to come back to the show as the celebrity who attends the grand opening of the Springfield Monorail. George had been great in season two, and I would never dream someone as unapproachable (I thought) as Leonard Nimoy would do our show.

To our surprise, George turned down the part; he was on the board of directors of a public monorail and didn't want to appear in our episode implying they were less than the ideal form of travel. To our astonishment, Leonard said yes, and to our greater astonishment, when we asked him to do corny Spockish lines, like "The cosmic ballet goes on," and to transport out of Springfield Star Trekstyle, he thought it was funny and couldn't have been nicer or given more hilarious readings.

Later, we asked him to play himself in our X-Files parody, and when we asked him to sing "Good Morning Starshine," he knew full well we were having a little fun with the solo album he released (and I loved), but again, he could not have been a better sport. He returned in Futurama, and is one of those rare people who seems to have touched with kindness everyone he met. A great actor and a great loss.