'Star Trek' Franchise Icon Leonard Nimoy Has Passed Away at Age 83
by Ethan Anderton
February 27, 2015
After playing one of the most iconic sci-fi characters in the history of the genre, Leonard Nimoy, the man that everyone knows as Mr. Spock, has passed away. The New York Times reports the beloved actor of the Star Trek franchise, spanning from television to films, passed away this Friday morning in his home in Los Angeles at 83 years old. Nimoy had been hospitalized suddenly last week after a scare related to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and his wife Susan Bay Nimoy confirms that the end stages of the affliction finally took their toll. Of all the souls we've encountered in our travels, his was the most human. Read on.
Nimoy was launched into space and fame when he made the move from teaching at his own acting studio to being cast as the emotionless Vulcan crew member Spock in the sci-fi series "Star Trek" back in 1966. As we know, the Gene Roddenberry created series became one of the most influential and revered programs of all-time, leading Nimoy to become known as Spock for decades and generations to come. Nimoy rode that wave right into the feature film series that followed the show's original cast, with even the title of one of the films featuring his character's name after his surprising death came (though it didn't last).
But Nimoy also had some interesting roles before his breakthrough in "Star Trek" in the 60s. The actor took on various small parts in little known movies such as Queen for a Day, Rhubarb and Zombies of the Stratosphere, not to mention an appearance on an episode of "The Twilight Zone." But he had starring roles too, as in Kid Monk Baroni, where he played a disfigured Italian street-gang leader who becomes a boxer, and that's from 1952, well before Rocky was on the scene. After this time, Nimoy also spent two years in the Army, where he had a hand in directing shows for the Army’s Special Services branch and more. After being discharged in 1955, he went back to Hollywood, teaching acting while taking small roles in familiar shows like "Rawhide" and "Perry Mason" before Spock came along and changed his life completely.
In addition to starring in the series and films, he also directed both Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (as well as writing Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. His legacy as Spock also spanned to original songs about Star Trek, spoken-work performances, some guest spots on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and eventually a return to the character as recent as the past five years. Director J.J. Abrams brought back Nimoy to play Spock from the original timeline of the franchise and meet up with his younger self (played by Zachary Quinto) in both Star Trek in 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness from 2013.
In addition to acting, Nimoy was also known for his poetry, photography and frequently panned forays into music, including singing a groovy song about J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. He also ended up directing movies outside of the sci-fi genre, getting behind the camera for Three Men and a Baby in 1987 and also acting roles in non-genre fare such as A Woman Called Golda, for which he received an Emmy nomination for playing the husband of Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel, who was played by Ingrid Bergman. It's the only Emmy nomination he received that wasn't for "Star Trek" (for which he received three nods). Other roles included voice work in the animated Transformers: The Movie and Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. On television, he's popped up on "The Big Bang Theory" and had a pivotal role in "Fringe" on Fox. And let's not forget amazing appearances on "Futurama."
But again, it was Mr. Spock that made Nimoy a household name and a beloved talent known worldwide. There are people who have never even seen an episode of "Star Trek" or any of the franchise's films who know Mr. Spock and the Vulcan death grip. The character became part of Nimoy just as much he became part of our lives. New York Times recalls him writing, "To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior." He also added, "Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock." Thankfully for us, Nimoy was and continues to be Spock, and he was and always will be our friend. Live long and prosper.