Remembering Leonard Nimoy

With the tragic loss of Leonard Nimoy, looks back on the life of a sci-fi legend

Photo credit: Pineapples101 on Flickr

Photo credit: Pineapples101 on Flickr

Friday saw one of sci-fi’s biggest heroes pass away. Actor Leonard Nimoy died at the age of 83 after suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for some time.

Nimoy was best known for portraying Mr Spock-  the half-Vulcan, half-human first officer aboard the Starship Enterprise in the original series of Star Trek. Surprisingly perhaps, Star Trek only ran for three seasons between 1966 and 1969 but produced an impressive 79 episodes. Despite the short length of the series, it became an international phenomenon with its popularity at the time akin to that of Doctor Who and “Dalekmania” in the early 1960s.

Mr Spock, the ship’s chief scientific officer and Captain Kirk’s right hand man, was there the whole way through to provide his own brand of logic and smarts to every situation the crew faced. With his unique Vulcan hand signal and distinct pointy ears, Spock became one of the most recognisable stars on the show and made Nimoy famous worldwide.

There was more to Nimoy than Spock though; he was a successful director, enjoyed photography, wrote two autobiographies and even produced several records including the highly amusing “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” in 1968.

Playing the role of Mr Spock was both a curse and a blessing for Nimoy who struggled with the character for a good part of his life. His autobiographies charted this struggle between Nimoy and Spock and how he came to embrace the character and the effect it had had on his life.

Nimoy returned to the Star Trek franchise on numerous occasions throughout his career from the movies of the late 70s and early 80s (two of which he directed) to video games and even the updated franchise, which began in 2009.

Nimoy’s life was never perfect, he had struggles with alcoholism, but his role as Spock inspired many to become interested in science and pursue a career in the field.

In his final years Nimoy took to Twitter to express himself; he regularly condemned smoking – the activity that had caused his poor health – and encouraged others to do the same. His final tweet on the social media site came just 4 days before his death and simply read “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”. Typically Nimoy’s final words on the internet were signed off with LLAP or “Live long and prosper”, the catchphrase of Mr Spock.

The passing of Nimoy has been met around the world with great sadness. Twitter has been filled with the highest praise for Mr Nimoy, with many fellow actors mourning his passing and praising him as a genuine and sincere person that they could all count on. Nimoy’s co – star William Shatner said “I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.”

As a Trekkie – or Trekker as Nimoy referred to us himself – his passing is a sad occasion but also a celebration of what he achieved during his long life. Whilst Zachary Quinto does an excellent job to portray Spock in the new Star Trek franchise, he will never take Nimoy’s place in fan’s hearts. They are just two different versions of the character to be appreciated in different ways. Of the core Star Trek crew only four remain William Shatner (Kirk), George Takei (Sulu), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Walter Koenig (Chekhov); a reminder perhaps of the longevity of the show that it is nearly 50 years old and yet it is still relevant and fascinating to this day.

As I come to a close there seems little more to say than thank you Mr Nimoy. Let us all live long and prosper in your memory.

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