His pursuits were many. He had a wide array of acting credits to his name in his more than 50 year career. He studied photography at UCLA. He recored five albums of original music. He wrote two autobiographies and published several books of poetry. But the man will be known, forever, as Mr. Spock.
Few characters in cinematic history are as recognizable, and few actors as intimately connected to a role, as Mr. Spock and Leonard Nimoy. Even those who lack an interest in Star Trek will recognzie that hand gesture instantly, or that phrase, “live long and prosper.”
Nimoy carried the mantle of science-fiction icon for 50 years with dignity and poise, traits that defined the actor as well as the character he became synonymous with. Nimoy’s first appearance as Mr. Spock came in the pilot episode of the original television series Star Trek, airing in 1966. He appeared in all 79 episodes of the show. (And the original, rejected pilot episode, meaning that Nimoy was actually in 80 episodes, more than any other actor).
Nimoy would reprise the role of Spock for the rest of his life, appearing in eight films, including the J.J. Abrams re-booted series as Spock Prime, and several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The role is worth a lifetime of dedication. Spock is a complicated, unusual character made rich by Nimoy’s hyper-sensitive portrayal of Spock’s inherent divisions. He is loyal, logical, human and alien, more attuned to the world around him than any other member of the Enterprise.
The actor managed to play the character as broad as possible in the 1960s, but as the years passed and television and movies changed, Nimoy always found the same core of Mr. Spock. Watching him in 2010’s Star Trek, it’s easy to find that 1966 character, a testament to Nimoy’s performance and his, as he would say at times, “mystical identification with the character.”
Nimoy always seemed grateful for the role (even if it tried him at times, as he wrote about in his first autobiography, I am not Spock), and his kindness towards fans and super-fans made him much admired by the sc-fi community at large.