Leonard Nimoy, the stoic, stone-faced actor who played Spock on the original Star Trek television series died on Friday morning at his Bel Air, California, home.
The 83-year-old actor was suffering from chronic pulmonary disease, which he attributed to years of smoking. Nimoy was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital earlier in the week.
A Pop Culture Icon
Nimoy became a pop culture icon. Thanks to Star Trek , his signature salute, “Live long and prosper” (or the Vulcan ““Dif-tor heh smusma”) and trademark hand gesture have lived on with thousands of Star Trek fans.
Aside from playing the Vulcan, Mr. Spock, in both television and over five different feature films, Nimoy also voiced the character for Star Trek: The Animated Series and released musical albums well into the 1990s.
Outer Space/Inner Mind, featured Nimoy’s baritone singing “Proud Mary,” and the 1993 release of Highly Illogical featured possibly the hippest version of “If I had a Hammer” you’ve ever heard.
Nimoy also released two autobiographies: one called “I am Not Spock” (1977) and “I am Spock,” published in 1995.
The Vulcan That Started it All
Nimoy had a love-hate affair with the Star Trek character. He embraced it more in later years, appearing as Spock in the new Star Trek reboot, reprising his role in the 2013 follow-up Star trek Into Darkness, using the Vulcan nerve pinch in an Audi commercial and making a cameo on TV’s The Big Bang Theory, voicing his vintage Mego action figure.
Nimoy was also a director (helming two Star Trek films) and television shows, in addition to spoken-word performances and a run on Broadway.
Nimoy was the voice of “Tiny Spock,” a vintage Mego action figure that Sheldon owned on The Big Big Theory.
He used the Spock role to also influence. He originally refused to lend his iconic voice to the animated series unless actors Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were added to the cast. His reason? Nimoy felt it was a matter of principle, that Uhura and Sulu were pivotal to the series success. In the process, they helped break ethnic barriers on TV as the show demonstrated racial tolerance in the 23rd century.
It didn’t matter if he was having one of his many adventures in engineering and rocket science with Captain Kirk, arguing logic with Dr. “Bones” McCoy, or contemplating the ins and outs of engineering with Scotty. Even though he was cast as an alien, Nimoy made the science officer human.
Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Ukrainian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. His father worked as a barber. Nimoy started acting at the age of 8.
DMA and nerds everywhere will miss him. May his memory “Live long and prosper.”