Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention 2011. Photo by Beth Madison.

Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention 2011. Photo by Beth Madison.

Leonard Nimoy passed away this morning at the age of 83 after being hospitalized earlier in the week for the long-term effects of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

He did a great deal of TV work before being cast as Star Trek’s iconic Mr. Spock. After the series was cancelled he went on to play Spock in eight Star Trek films, two of which he directed. Nimoy also voiced his character for the animated Star Trek series, and in a 2012 episode of The Big Bang Theory (“The Transporter Malfunction”). Director J. J. Abrams included cameo parts for him in the revived Star Trek film franchise.

Nimoy invented the famed “Vulcan nerve pinch” for the original series when he and the writers were trying to figure out how an unarmed Spock could overpower an adversary without resorting to violence.

Highlights of his other genre work include The Outer Limits – he appeared in episodes of both the Sixties original and the Nineties revival — and The Twilight Zone (“The Quality of Mercy,” 1961). He voiced “Mr. Moundshroud” in The Halloween Tree, based on the work of Ray Bradbury.

His first record album, Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space, resulted in a hit “Visit to a Sad Planet” (1967) which charted at #121 on Billboard.

His “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” also forged a weird but immortal connection in the minds of fans between Star Trek and Tolkien.

Nimoy’s career was linked with William Shatner’s in more than just the obvious way – even before Star Trek, they appeared together in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964). Afterwards, of course, they were paired in the animated series (1973), an episode of the Shatner vehicle T.J. Hooker (1982), and one of Futurama (1999).

In demand as a narrator, he hosted two nonfiction TV shows, In Search of… (1976) and Ancient Mysteries (1993). He voiced a cartoon version of himself – Leonard Nimoy — in two episodes of The Simpsons.

Nimoy was born in Boston and once commented, “My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.”

He made this final tweet on February 22:

(He signed all his tweets LLAP for “Live long and prosper.”)

10 thoughts on “Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

  1. I think I’ve seen only one of his movies, and perhaps two or three of the TV programs, but I consider him a Mensch, and hold his memory to be a blessing.

    That’s Leonard Nimoy, mind you. “Spock” is, IMHO, immortal as Sherlock Holmes (i.e., good for at least another hundred years, and probably two hundred or more).

  2. Earlier today, when the news first broke, I wrote:

    “STAR TREK was an incredibly big part of my youth, and I still love the original series.

    “Intriguingly, the first image that came to mind was of Nimoy, and William Shatner, laughing together, in a video they once collaborated on, in which they interviewed each other, in Shatner’s backyard.

    “And when I was a kid, in the hallway of the New York Hilton floor which had the headquarters and guest hospitality suite for a STAR TREK convention, and Nimoy was suddenly striding along, a rose in his hand.

    “And, of course, Spock on the cusp, of all those great adventures.”

    But, now, here’s what keeps running through my mind:

    Being eleven years old, and falling in love with STAR TREK, on the old WPIX reruns, on Chanel 11, in New York. Oh sure, I was well old enough to have been a toddler during the otiginal run, and I can remember older relatives watching the original 1968/69 Friday night broadcasts on NBC, and probably even before then.

    I was well primed, having been a comic book kid for YEARS, and having been well weaned on FLASH GORDON (way back in 1966, the 1930s serial chapters, with Buster Crabbe, shown on THE BEACHCOMBER BILL SHOW, a kids series, also on WPIX), all those great 1960s animated shows, and that absolutely intoxicating experience of first touching the enchantment of the Universal monster movies, with Karloff, and Chaney Jr…

    Was there anything much sweeter than those first steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise, or walking across an alien field, with Kirk, Spock and McCoy?

    But the memory that keeps returning, is from early 1975.

    My Dad and I were supposed to go to that year’s New York STAR TREK convention, as we had the year before, but I was laid up.

    My Dad, kindly, went into Manhattan, to pick up the program book, always a nice, photo-filled affair, a bunch of stuff off the flyers table, and other goodies.

    Now, my Dad was a very dignified looking guy, about six feet, tall… Imagine, if you will, Telly Savalas, but with a grey crewcuttish hair style, and nicely kept beard… Or, from one angle, I suppose, Dean Martin (but with a crewcut, and beard)…

    As my Dad was walking through the reception/admissions area, a little kid, about ten, shyly gave him the “Live long and prosper” sign.

    My father, a science fiction guy since his own childhood, now in suit and tie, on the way home from work, happily spread his fingers, in the Vulcan way, of course, and saluted him back.

    Jim Burns

  3. Leonard Nimoy lived long, and prospered and now is gone. Spock lives on in the collective imagination.

    Hail and farewell.

  4. According to this article, he was saying good-bye on Twitter for some time:

    http://www.vox.com/2015/2/27/8121067/leonard-nimoy-twitter

    I guess Sheldon Cooper needs to start growing his Leonard Nimoy clone.

    We’ve been seeing all of the characters from Star Trek recreated in fan films for years, and then in the re-imagined movies. The characters from the show have become figures from Shakespeare — these are parts actors will be re-creating and re-interpreting for hundreds of years, like Hamlet or Macbeth or Lear, even past the Star Trek time setting,

  5. I know that Nimoy found Spock oppressive at times, and wanted to be remembered for other things as well (he once played Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: now that I’d have liked to see), but it’s given to few actors to have created so absolutely iconic a character.

  6. I thought the FRINGE episodes were “guest star” walk ons. Important to the plot, and brief, with considerations to Nimoy’s health.

    And yes, remember: smoking sucks. He said he gave up smoking, but not at the right time.

  7. Let’s not forget that Nimoy sang Bilbo Baggins in a car commercial before the second new Star Trek movie. I thought this was pretty funny.

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