Star Trek’s Mr Spock beams up for last time

Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of Star Trek fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr Spock, has died.

Star Trek’s Mr Spock beams up for last time

Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of Star Trek fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr Spock, has died.

Nimoy died yesterday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles home, said his son, Adam Nimoy. He was 83.

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

“He affected the lives of many,” Adam Nimoy said. “He was also a great guy and my best friend.”

Asked if his father chafed at his fans’ close identification of him with his character, Adam Nimoy said: “Not in the least. He loved Spock.”

However, Nimoy occasionally displayed ambivalence to the role; his two autobiographies are titled I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995).

“I was involved in something of a crusade to develop a reputation as an actor with some range,” Nimoy wrote in I Am Not Spock.

“I went through a definite identity crisis. The question was whether to embrace Mr Spock or to fight the onslaught of public interest. I realize now that I really had no choice in the matter. Spock and Star Trek were very much alive and there wasn’t anything that I could do to change that.”

Still, he wrote that, if given the choice of being any other TV character, he would still have chosen Spock.

Leonard Nimoy, second left, with fellow Star Trek cast members

DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner,

George Takei, and James Doohan. Picture: Paramount/AP

Nimoy had often confronted Star Trek creators during the original series over their conception of Spock, and his input was responsible for many aspects of the character.

He came up with the Vulcan nerve grip that rendered foes unconscious, as well as the split-fingered Vulcan ‘live long and prosper’ salute, which he said was inspired by a gesture he had seen worshippers make in his synagogue when he was a boy.

Nimoy signed off his tweets with ‘LLAP’, an abbreviation of Spock’s trademark phrase ‘live long and prosper’.

After Star Trek ended, the actor immediately joined the hit adventure series Mission Impossible as Paris, the mission team’s master of disguises.

From 1976 to 1982, he hosted the syndicated TV series In Search of..., which attempted to probe such mysteries as the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart.

He played Israeli leader Golda Meir’s husband opposite Ingrid Bergman in the TV drama A Woman Called Golda and Vincent van Gogh in Vincent, a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter. Nimoy worked well into his 70s, also directing several films including the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby, and appeared in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tim Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, My Fair Lady, and Equus.

He also published books of poems, children’s stories, and his own photographs.

However, he could never escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star, and in a 1995 interview sought to analyse the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveller who aspired to live a life based on logic.

People identified with Spock because they “recognise 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?”

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

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.

The space adventure set in the 23rd century had an unimpressive debut on NBC on September 8, 1966, and it struggled during its three seasons to find an audience other than teenage boys.

It seemed headed for oblivion after it was cancelled in 1969, but a dedicated legion of fans kept its memory alive with conventions and fan clubs and constant demands that the cast be reassembled for a movie or TV show.

Trekkies were particularly fond of Spock, often greeting one another with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan motto, ‘live long and prosper’.

When the cast was reassembled for Star Trek —The Motion Picture in 1979, the film was a 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 2009, he was back in a new Star Trek film, 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”.

Born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Nimoy was raised in an Italian section of the city.

In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, and they had two children, Julie and Adam.

The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.

Leonard Nimoy, right, in 2006 with fellow Star Trek actor William

Shatner, who played James T Kirk. Picture: Ric Francis/ AP


“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent and his capacity to love.”

William Shatner

“My heart is broken. I love you profoundly my dear friend, and I will miss you everyday. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Zachary Quinto

“RIP, Mr Nimoy. You really did live long and prosper, and we were all the richer for it.”

Jeri Ryan

“Certainly he was a brilliant actor. But he also believed in working collaboratively. Leonard was also a very dear friend.”

George Takei

“Leonard Nimoy brought us one of the greatest, noblest characters in the history of American storytelling. Someone find the Genesis planet.”

Seth McFarlane

“Rip Leonard Nimoy. So many of us at Nasa were inspired by Star Trek. Boldly go...”


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