He lived long and prospered.
On Friday, the universe cracked open and swallowed itself. Leonard Nimoy, better known as Spock from TV & films Star Trek, died at the age of 83. He was taken by complications to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which he attributed to the smoking habit he gave up 30 years earlier.
Millions of fans around the world are mourning the loss of a man who was part of their lives since he debuted as Spock in 1966. To them, more than any other role, he was the half human, half Vulcan science officer of the USS Enterprise. It’s a role that launched him into superstar status but also one he was hard pressed to escape for the rest of his life. He played Spock on the TV series from 1966-69, 6 original cast movies, 2 episodes of Star Trek TNG, the animated series and cameos in both of JJ Abrams’ films. He is synonymous with the character and it’s hard not to see why. He had a look that was perfect for the role and his demeanor always felt right for the character in every version. There are people right now working at NASA and in other science based fields because of Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 27, 2015
Great minds, like current science super star Neil deGrasse Tyson, US President Barack Obama and astronaut Chris Hadfield, grew up inspired by what Nimoy and the show as whole were able to do. It’s a testament to the actor he was that as the alien Spock he was still able to inspire others. Nimoy also was affected by the character’s logic and restraint. He tells the story of how playing the character for 12-14 hours a day, 5 days a week was taking over his real life. He would leave the set for the weekend and would still be talking, walking and thinking like Spock until roughly about Sunday afternoon, only to go back in on Monday morning and start all over again.
Rest in peace with the stars, my dear friend. pic.twitter.com/D2dVG6I9Xi
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 27, 2015
For me personally, I always identified with Spock. It’s not that I was like him (obviously) but that I really admired his logical reasoning when it came to problems he faced on the show. By the time the series ended you saw that under all the logic, he really did care immensely for those he served with. This intensified in the movies. By the time we got to The Wrath of Kahn, his death meant something to all fans. To this day I can’t watch the last act of the film and not get emotional as I watch it. It still continues to resonate with me. And that is all thanks to Leonard Nimoy’s performance.
Spock wasn’t the only role in his career. He starred in many TV shows such as Fringe, Mission Impossible, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Columbo, Ancient Mysteries and, of course, In Search of... (as the host of the series). He also directed two Star Trek films and most famously, Three Men and a Baby. He was also a poet, photographer and musician. He had many talents.
With all of those talents and his iconic role as Spock he still found time to give back. He was a proud and substantial philanthropist who help raise the funds for the Griffith Observatory’s 2002-2004 expansion. He was active in supporting Jewish causes throughout his life. He was s supporter of women’s rights. His co-star Walter Koenig tells of how he went to Nimoy when he found out that Nichelle Nichols was getting payed less than her equal billed male co-stars. Nimoy went to the producers and had them make sure she was getting paid equally. He also published a book of his photography called the Full Body Project, using provocative (sometimes nude) images of plus sized women. He wanted to make a statement regarding the Hollywood idea of beauty, showing that all women are inherently beautiful and not just those who are thin.
It’s no surprise that so many people from all walks of life have been affected by his passing. He was a leader who used his efforts to help those around him. He continued to show through his work that compassion and humanity were the keys to helping those around you on a daily basis.
I will be re-watching The Wrath of Khan to marvel once more at a man who was such a big part of my entertainment life. I leave for you his last message, tweeted just days before his passing.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Good bye Leonard, to boldly go where no man has gone before.