March 10, 2015 Remembering Leonard Nimoy: A Man From Another Galaxy
On February 27, 2015, the world lost a true icon of Science-Fiction cinema. Ever since he was first cast as the pointy-eared, logic-driven Vulcan, Mr. Spock, in Gene Roddenberry’s 1966 Star Trek series, Leonard Nimoy has been a prominent figure in Science-Fiction and geek culture. His recent passing at the age of eighty-three is a loss for millions of Star Trek and Science-Fiction fans worldwide. With that said, it is necessary to reflect on the legacy Nimoy left behind and how he touched the lives of multiple generations over the course of a career that spanned almost fifty years.
Born to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy did not make his acting debut until he was in his early 20s. He played minor characters in often uncredited roles in films such as Rhubarb (1951), Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952), and Them! (1954). During the early years of his career, he served in the United States Army Reserve at Fort McPherson, Georgia to which he left in 1955 with the title of Sergeant. After a decade of mostly minor roles in B-movies, Nimoy’s big break came when he portrayed the half human/half Vulcan character, Spock, on Star Trek for three full seasons. Being so impressive in the role put visually and verbally, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was able to model an entire race of aliens off Nimoy’s, thus laying the groundwork for a Science-Fiction standard.
After Star Trek made its debut, Nimoy instantly became a household name alongside William Shatner, who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk. The role earned Nimoy three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama. For association with the role, Star Trek was where Nimoy enjoyed his greatest success. After the original show concluded in 1969, Nimoy reprised his role along with the rest of the cast in six feature films, two of which he directed: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and the much more critically-acclaimed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). While Stark Trek went on to spawn a slew of well-received spin-off series through the years such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise, is it any wonder if the saga would have ever taken off the way it did if it was not for Nimoy along with the original characters. Proving the original story still resonates strongly with people of all ages, Star Trek received a reboot by J.J. Abrams’s in 2009 and in 2013 with Star Trek Into Darkness. Thankfully, Abram’s had the intelligence to include Nimoy in the new films, and Spock’s reprise not only was a homage to Nimoy, but now proves to be his swan song.
Simply put, Star Trek made Nimoy into a pop culture icon. His “Vulcan nerve pinch,” the Vulcan salute, and the phrase “Live Long and Prosper” (which Nimoy himself certainly did) have been embedded into popular culture, but Nimoy’s fame and legacy are not merely limited to his involvement with Star Trek. In addition to his accomplishments in the entertainment business, Nimoy was also an activist, and a philanthropist. Possessing a profound interest in spirituality, he was especially involved in the Jewish community. Nimoy was a loving husband and father, who was deeply committed to his family and friends, and he also boasted a number of talents in addition to acting. An accomplished director, musician, photographer, and poet, Nimoy wrote two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1975), where he attempted to differentiate himself from the character, and I Am Spock (1995), where he cleared up the misconception that he had been rejecting the character altogether in the first book. After Star Trek‘s original run, Nimoy found success in other television programs such as Mission Impossible (1966-1973) and In Search of… (1977-1982). He also established himself as a prominent voice actor, utilizing his talents in such films as Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). He also voiced fictional versions of himself in The Simpsons and Futurama.
His final tweet was touching, yet heartbreaking at the same time. He wrote that “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” This quote directly applies to Nimoy himself and the decades of entertainment he left us in his legacy. It is akin to what Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (played by the late DeForest Kelley) said after Spock made the ultimate sacrifice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “He’s not really dead. As long as we remember him.” This was true of Spock, and it is even more true of the real-life Spock.
Nimoy may be physically gone, but like any truly phenomenal actor, he has been immortalized on screen. Beyond film, Nimoy was a deep man with insight and introspective many admired and respected. With immense talent, he will be remembered and honored for generations to come. He was a man who always put every ounce of his talent into his work, thereby inspiring legions of fans to boldly go where no one had gone before.
Mr. Leonard Nimoy’s effect on fans of all ages reaches far and wide. Below are a list of thoughts on the legend from a variety of musicians:
“Farewell, Mr Nimoy. Few will have such an indelible impact on popular culture, be so iconically famous and so revered, and inspire so many, as you have. You made my childhood a better place and affirmed my thirst for knowledge. You will be very sadly missed.”
– Ronan Harris, VNV Nation vocalist
“Few characters are as iconic as ‘Spock’ was. From his look, to his persona, to his famed ‘live long and prosper’ hand sign, he was unmistakable, and unforgettable. Leonard Nimoy, you will be missed.”
– Trevor NcNevan, Thousand Foot Krutch vocalist
“There are few people who’s name is synonymous with Sci-fi as Spock. Even if you aren’t familiar with the show, you know “Live Long And Prosper” and that funky hand split thing everyone tries to do. He was an Sci-fi icon and he will be missed.”
– Ryan Grandmaison, Scare Don’t Fear bassist
“I’ve been a fan of the original Star Trek since I was a kid. In fact when I was a kid we were not allowed to watch TV or have a TV at our house per my parents religious affiliation. There were only two shows that I remember watching while growing up. I would sneak in some TV time at my grandmas house because she had a television. Star Trek was one of those shows. It kicked my interests as a child into things like spaceships, time travel, aliens, and life beyond our world. Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr Spock, was right there along with Captain James T. Kirk, The Enterprise, and the rest of the crew exploring new worlds, creating new questions, and answering them all at the same time with the high technologies of that projected era. In fact a lot of people don’t realize that some of the technologies that we have today were actually used as the technologies of that futuristic time frame on Star Trek. I have been a huge Sci fi fan from that point on in my life, and to this day I still watch Star Trek both old and new versions and everything in between when it is possible. So as Mr Spock himself once said, “Loss of life is to be mourned, but only if the life was wasted”. You have left your mark on our world Mr. Nimoy, now make your mark on the next! Rest in peace!”
– Tony Housh, Seasons After vocalist
“When “In Search Of” debuted I was convinced Leonard Nimoy did indeed hold the keys to all the secrets of the universe…blurring science and science fiction in a world of wonder…Still searching.”
– Dave Pirner, Soul Asylum vocalist/guitarist
” Leonard Nimoy was an iconic actor leaving behind an unparalleled legacy in the towering character Mr. Spock. I remember being addicted to the Star Trek episodes as a child, fascinated by the idea of exploring the galaxies filled with mysteries and alien species. I was totally absorbed into that leap of faith into the unknown. Mr. Spock’s cool calculation and rational approach and Captain Kirk’s bravery and morality created a fascinating dynamic in the Star Trek adventures.”
– Rob Decoup, singer-songwriter
“I was never a huge Star Trek Fan, but I did appreciate Leonard Nimoy. I remember watching him on Rod Serling’s Night Gallery and always remember those episodes, probably because of him. I always thought he brought realism to his acting and his characters. I remember seeing him on the Johnny Carson show and he didn’t have those ears, I was bummed! I really thought he had those ears. He will live on for eternity he was SPOCK! an ICON! Blue Shirt, Pointy ears… a Legend.”
– Charlie Benante, Anthrax drummer
“Leonard Nimoy’s character embodied the idea that all of us can reach beyond our own genetics and find that common “human” thread. An understanding of our brothers and sisters we share this universe with. As a man he strove to bring together two peoples in the Middle East who’ve fought one another for over a millennia. His like comes rarely.”
– Nathan Hunt, Shaman’s Harvest vocalist
“I remember watching Star Trek when I was young and immediately gravitating towards the character of Spock. I felt connected to him because he wasn’t like the others. He was different. It made me sad sometimes. Then Kirk said something about Spock that changed my life. He said, ‘Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.’ LLAP.”
– Sameer Bhattacharya, Flyleaf guitarist
“Growing up a science and science fiction enthusiast, I spent endless hours with Leonard Nimoy. I watched DVDs of TOS and In Search Of countless times. I marveled at how Mr Nimoy, an icon for his character of Spock, could be my personal tour guide through history on In Search Of. Later I was thrilled to see his turn on Fringe reintroduce him to the world of science-fiction without trading in his past. Leonard Nimoy fought for equal right, equality of pay irrespective of gender, he was a poet and an author, and most of all an inspiration to all whose lives he touched. I never met Leonard Nimoy, but his impact on my life was powerful. It is hard to imagine he is gone.”
-Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional / Twin Forks
“I’m so upset to hear about the passing of the legend that is Leonard Nimoy, Spock is by far one of my favourite fictional characters to ever exist and I think I’m amongst many in saying this. However, I mustn’t forget about his many other talents though because I was a fan of his poetry and just his general being as well. He did indeed live long and prosper.”
– Janet Devlin, singer-songwriter
“I’ve always been comforted by Spock’s pursuit of objectivity and detachment, the loss of Leonard Nimoy has saddened me deeply.”
– Oli Herbert, All That Remains guitarist
“When I was a kid I loved Star Trek. My grandfather and I made a tricorder, phaser, and communicator out of bit’s of plywood and wire. We spent an entire weekend visit building my Star Trek gear kit and it’s one of the best memories of my childhood. One of the things I loved most about the show was Spock’s constant battle between his logical side and and his human emotions. I was a big time nerd in the marching band and a total bookworm so I always felt my strongest connection with Spock and I honestly cannot imagine anyone who could have portrayed Spock other than the brilliant Leonard Nimoy. He was Spock. Live long and prosper and thank you for being my childhood friend.”
– Christopher Hall, The Dreaming/Stabbing Westward vocalist
“I had the pleasure of meeting him (and his dog) a few times while working at VCA Animal Hospital. A very friendly and approachable guy. Leonard Nimoy was the “Star” in “Star Trek”!”
– Brian Forsythe, Kix guitarist