I cannot believe that Leonard Nimoy died today from complications of COPD. He was 83. His final tweet offers a good reminder that we will always have his memory to cheer us: “A life if like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”
Throughout his life, Nimoy worked as an actor, author, director, musician, and photographer. He is, of course, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek television show that ran from 1966 to 1969 as well as in the following movies and cartoons based on Star Trek. He even directed two of the best films based on the original series and played the older Spock in the new movies. I was reminded a few weeks ago that he had acted in so many other shows and films before and after Star Trek when I saw him in reruns of Perry Mason, Rawhide and Columbo. He looked so young! And he was a bad guy in several of those old shows. Not very Spock-like! I also remember being impressed by his one-man show Vincent back in 1981, when he told the story of Vincent Van Gogh as Theo, Vincent’s brother.
Even though he has done so much other than play a logical Vulcan, it is hard to think of Nimoy as any character other than Mr. Spock. I was eleven when Star Trek started, and he was always my favorite. He was a wise and logical Vulcan, but he was always conflicted by the human emotions he struggled to control. In the process he was the most humane of all the characters. Of course, the best scenes in either the television show or movies were when he was surprised or otherwise let some emotions sneak out. It is hard for me to imagine a world—and Star Trek‘s promise of a better world tomorrow—without Mr. Spock. As Spock, he valued friendship and was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the many. If only he could be come back to life as he did in Star Trek III: The Voyage Home.
At least he will live on in our memories and our hearts.
I know I am planning to re-watch all the Star Trek movies one more time—and yes, I do have them all! I agree with the reaction to his death shared by George Takei (Star Trek’s Sulu): “The word extraordinary is often overused, but I think it’s really appropriate for Leonard. He was an extraordinarily talented man, but was also a very decent human being. . . . He was a very sensitive man. And we will feel his passing very much.”
Nimoy himself felt his connection to Mr. Spock. He wrote two autobiographical books. The first was I Am Not Spock (1975), but the latter was I Am Spock (1995). In the second he seemed to come to terms with being the foil of Spock throughout his life—striving to embrace what is best of humanity while realizing how difficult that challenge is. Still, as Mr. Spock, Nimoy helps make it seem possible that the future will be better.
If you look on You Tube, there are many videos that will show Nimoy in action. One of my favorites is the following one that is actually a commercial. But I like it because it shows Nimoy playing at being Spock with his younger counterpart from the newer movies Zachary Quinto—and having a good time in the process. I choose to remember him this way!
These final two videos are fun as well. The first shows the two Spocks (Nimoy & Quinto) talking about playing that character, and the second is Nimoy’s cameo on The Big Bang Theory. Nimoy’s Mr. Spock is really a science fiction icon!
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER, LEONARD NIMOY.
YOUR SPIRIT REMAINS WITH US.