Leonard Nimoy, known as Mr. Spock to all who are fans of the original Star Trek series, passed away Friday morning at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles. He was 83.
Last year the actor announced that he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as a result of years of smoking — a habit which he quit more than three decades ago. He was hospitalized earlier in the week as a result of complications, but was released a few days ago.
Nimoy, who became famous for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series as well as in the recent Star Trek movie franchise, has been a role model in a diffusion of culture, having been the author of books, poetry, music, and even photography.
His real break in the industry came as result of having made a good impression on Gene Roddenberry, the famous creator of Star Trek, who had Nimoy appear in every single episode of the three-season series.
Star Trek is perhaps one of the most famous sci-fi TV shows throughout television history, where together with William Shatner, who played the handsome and dashing Captain Kirk, Nimoy challenged many cultural norms prevalent in the 60’s by fighting xenophobia and misogyny and by featuring a multicultural cast.
Initially, the show did not gain popularity among a wide audience, and did not go beyond a third season, but its enduring legacy, embodied in Star Trek’s famous fan base, led to the equally famous Star Trek: The Next Generation and other spin-offs.
Nimoy also starred in numerous films since Star Trek. He played Vincent Van Gogh in the famous “Vincent” “and even Golda Meir’s husband in “A Woman Called Golda.” He has also directed numerous movies, and has appeared in plays such as “A Street Car Name Desire.”
The most interesting aspect of Nimoy’s career, perhaps, was his difficulty with being type-casted as Spock as a result of his enduring legacy perpetuated by “Trekkies.” In 1975 he wrote an autobiography entitled “I Am Not Spock,” but nearly 20 years later, in 1995, he embraced his role as Spock and wrote his second autobiography called “I am Spock.” Since then he has appeared in numerous TV shows, from The Simpsons to Futurama, flaunting but also making fun of the Vulcan character that had made him famous.
Nimoy has had a profound effect on sci-fi culture by bringing the famous split-fingered salute — that many of us have struggled to do — into the public view, as well as the ubiquitous words: “Live long and prosper.”
By Milad Doroudian
Image by NBC Television