As young kids, one of the things that people likely find most fascinating about Star Trek isn’t the massive ships, the laser beams, or even the streaking stars: it’s a pair of ears.
Over the past 50 years, a small pair of pointed ears sitting beside a bowl cut has enthralled people, and drawn people toward, arguably, the franchise’s signature character: the Enterprise‘s first officer and science officer, the half Vulcan/half human Spock. Spock is more than just a concept, though, and he’s more than just an icon: he’s a character that most people within and outside of the Star Trek franchise recognize was given life by an actor with an amazing dedication to his craft, with performances on television and in film that helped to legitimize the stories told as more than just lavish science fiction: they were ideas and parallels of our own world. Spock, due to the efforts of the late Leonard Nimoy, helped us realize this perhaps more than anyone else.
A performer since age 8 in local theater, Nimoy decided to pursue his dream of becoming an actor against the wishes of his parents, who instead wanted him to pursue something with more stability. With a prolific career that began in the early 1950’s, Nimoy was already an experienced actor on film and television by the time he first reported to the set of the original “Star Trek” pilot in 1964. Before having regular work as an actor, Nimoy took other jobs, like delivering newspapers, in order to help support his family, and had small roles in films like Them! and The Brain Eaters before landing more regular work on the small screen. He worked on such shows as “The Outer Limits,” “Colt .45,” “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide,” and “The Untouchables,” among many others, before landing the role that would define him for the next half-century.
As Spock, Nimoy proved to be the custodian of the show’s most identifiable and iconic character, delivering performances that would be difficult for any actor by suppressing emotion in normally emotional scenes, and by giving his own creative input to help create and innovate the tenets and philosophy of Vulcan culture, the famous “hand salute” being a creation of his own. His association with the Star Trek franchise would continue after the series made the transition to the silver screen, where he would direct the third and fourth films (the latter of which being one of the franchises most successful), and help to craft the story of the sixth film, the “swan song” for the original series crew.
Nimoy’s association with Spock, as is possible with any actor in a popular role, weighed on him for awhile. The first volume of his autobiography was entitled I Am Not Spock, which some fans were disappointed by since they felt it was the actor rejecting the character they fell in love with. It would become clear over time, though, that Nimoy loved Spock as well, because he cared about the character. The second volume of his autobiography reflected that when the title was announced to be I Am Spock.
He was also so much more than that character, though, as millions of people have attested to over the years. From his photography work to his philanthropic endeavors, Nimoy was a leader among his “Original Series” peers, always cited by outspoken fellow cast mates like George Takei and Walter Koenig as a consummate professional, a gifted and creative actor, and most importantly, as a good man.
Speaking personally, Leonard Nimoy singlehandedly taught me to look beyond the surface of stories to find a deeper meaning, and that was made possible because a performer and thinker of his caliber was an enormous part of a series I’ve loved since I learned how to walk. The reason I love Star Trek is because of Leonard Nimoy, whose care and attention to detail made that man from another world so real in the eyes of fans across the world. Beyond that, though, Leonard Nimoy was a poet at heart, and one of the single best communicators of the human condition that fans across the world have been fortunate enough to be touched by.
At the end of the day, though, the words I write in remembrance of a man I admired so much are hollow, so let me end this with the words of the man himself, who gave us one final message before he had to leave us.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Thank you for the dedication, for the performances, and for the memories, Mr. Nimoy. You’ll be forever missed, just as much as you are now.
Latest posts by Chris Clow (see all)
- Original ‘Mortal Kombat’ Film Turns 20 Years Old Today - August 18, 2015
- ‘Alien 5’ Production May Be Delayed by ‘Prometheus 2’ - August 18, 2015
- Hugh Jackman Teases Other Comics Characters, Berserker Rage - August 18, 2015
- 343 Industries Responds to Backlash Over No Split-Screen Gameplay in ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ - August 17, 2015
- First Look at ‘Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection’ on PS4 in New Story Trailer - August 17, 2015