Leonard Nimoy Passes at 83

Leonard Nimoy Leonard Nimoy, known and loved by generations of Star Trek fans as the logical half-Human, half-Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, has passed away at the age of 83 after struggling with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Although Nimoy followed his 1966-69 Star Trek run with a notable career as both an actor and director, in the public’s mind he would always be Spock. His logical, emotionless character was the calm counterpoint to William Shatner’s often passionate Captain Kirk on one of TV and film’s most revered cult series.

Though Nimoy initially displayed ambivalence to the role in the title of his autobiography, “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995), his son Adam Nimoy said, “He loved Spock.

But he could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV icon, and in a 1995 interview he sought to analyze the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveler who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.

People identified with Spock because they “recognize in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation,” Nimoy concluded.

“How many times have we come away from an argument wishing we had said and done something different?” he asked.

In the years immediately after Star Trek left television, Nimoy tried to shun the role, but he eventually came to embrace it, lampooning himself on such TV shows as Futurama, Duckman and The Simpsons and in commercials.

He became Spock after “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on the TV shows “The Lieutenant” and “Dr. Kildare.”

Trekkies have always been particularly fond of Spock, often greeting one another with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan motto, “Live Long and Prosper,” both of which Nimoy was credited with bringing to the character. He pointed out, however, that the hand gesture was actually derived from one used by rabbis during Hebraic benedictions.

From 1976 to 1982, Nimoy was the host and narrator of the cult classic series, “In Search Of…” investigating and exploring a wide range of unusual and paranormal phenomena. The series is still popular with not only fans of Nimoy but also enthusiasts of the paranormal.

When the cast finally was reassembled for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in 1979, the film was a huge hit and five sequels followed. Nimoy appeared in all of them and directed two. He also guest starred as an older version of himself in some of the episodes of the show’s spinoff TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“Of course the role changed my career- or rather, gave me one,” he once said. “It made me wealthy by most standards and opened up vast opportunities. It also affected me personally, socially, psychologically, emotionally. … What started out as a welcome job to a hungry actor has become a constant and ongoing influence in my thinking and lifestyle.” In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Leonard Nimoy recalled how an early stage role left him “obsessed” with pursuing work that had a social impact.

In the years after the Star Trek films, Nimoy pursued his love of photography and released The Full Body Project, a book of his photographic exploration of the human body. His photography was exhibited at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 2009, he was back in a new big-screen version of Star Trek, this time playing an older Spock who meets his younger self, played by Zachary Quinto. Critic Roger Ebert called the older Spock “the most human character in the film.”

Upon the movie’s debut, Nimoy told The Associated Press that in his late 70s he was probably closer than ever to being as comfortable with himself as the logical Spock always appeared to be.

“I’ve fulfilled that dream, including `Star Trek,’ for that matter,” he said. “If that’s part of the legacy, then I’m very pleased with that. I would hope the work I chose to do had some reason for being done other than just simply being a job.”

“I know where I’m going, and I know where I’ve been,” he said. He reprised the role in the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.

Nimoy was active and engaging on Twitter, often closing his tweets with his signature sign-off “LLAP” a reference his character’s iconic phrase, “Live Long and Prosper.” Though he has passed from this world, he will undoubtedly live long in the hearts of his family, friends, and the countless fans whose hearts he touched.

by Risa Suraya

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