Leonard Nimoy's Spock Ears Are Joining The Smithsonian Collection

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is about to receive a prestigious addition to its ranks. The rubber prosthetic ear tips worn by actor Leonard Nimoy on "Star Trek" have been donated to the museum and will be put on public display. The ear tips join a long list of film memorabilia on display in various Smithsonian museums, including the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland on the set of "The Wizard of Oz," one of the R2-D2 droids from "Return of the Jedi," a coat worn by Harrison Ford during "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," and Steven Spielberg himself, who is there 24-7, on display in a plastic case. Well, not really, but there is a handsome portrait of Spielberg at the National Portrait Gallery. 

The ear tips were donated by Nimoy's family, and his son Adam (who directed one episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation") gave the following statement:

"When he finished filming the original 'Star Trek' series in 1969, my father brought home a small memento to commemorate his three years of dedicated work on the original series: A pair of Spock's Vulcan ears. Mounted in a black box, those ears have been in our family for over fifty years as a tribute to dad's outstanding performances as Mr. Spock, and the inspiration and hope that 'Star Trek' has given to generations of fans all over this planet.

"Today it's my honor to donate the iconic Spock ears to the National Air and Space Museum, where they can be experienced by visitors firsthand. The donation honors Beit T'Shuvah and the Leonard Nimoy COPD Research Fund at UCLA. Two organizations supported by our family and dedicated to the Vulcan salutation of long life and prosperity."

The ears

The idea to give Spock pointed ears was first conceived of by Gene Roddenberry, although the exact size and shape of the ears took a while to determine. I recall seeing an interview with Nimoy wherein he claims to have asked the CBS makeup department to make a pair of "Mephistophelean ears" for him. Nimoy has said the man behind the ears was Fred Philips, although some have said the ears were designed by Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers. In the 1960, the ears were made of rubber or latex. In the event that Nimoy hated the ears, "Trek" producer Herbert F. Solow offered him the "out" of Spock receiving cosmetic surgery from Dr. McCoy. It wasn't until "Star Trek" started receiving fan mail about the uniqueness of Spock that Nimoy realized the look was going to have to remain. Additionally, Spock altering his ears would ultimately go against the show's ethos of multiculturalism. No, the ears were to be applied every day. 

When makeup technology had advanced enough, Spock's ears would eventually be replaced by one-time-use silicone, which was softer, more realistic, and easier to apply. 

The pointed ears, severe bangs, and slanted eyebrows became the signature look for Spock, the most striking character on the show, and the look would be carried over into generations of Vulcans within the "Star Trek" franchise. In the 1960s, it took 45 minutes to apply the ears