Leonard Nimoy, the actor beloved to millions died today. He was 83 years old.
Despite an acting career that spanned decades, he will forever be known as Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan science officer for the Enterprise on Star Trek. It’s worth noting that when Star Trek‘s first pilot, “The Cage” was rejected by the networks, the entire thing was recast for a second pilot…except for Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy became uncomfortable with the close association he had with his most famous role, even titling his autobiography I Am Not Spock, but in recent years he seemed to embrace it to the fullest, returning to the role in the JJ Abrams films Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness and often signing off on social media with Spock’s famous “live long an prosper.”— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Mr. Nimoy’s career in film and television extended well beyond Star Trek, he returned to the stage, and appeared in genre films like 1978’s excellent remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He directed two Star Trek feature films, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Fans may also remember Nimoy as the host of In Search Of… where he leant his extraordinary presence and unmistakable voice to an exploration of subjects like the Bermuda Triangle and ancient aliens. He famously voiced Galvatron in the animated Transformers: The Movie, uniting generations of fans raised on Star Trek’s original airings, and children familiar with him through the inescapable Trek re-runs. He later returned to acting in genre TV for an impressive turn on Fringe.
Mr. Nimoy had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he only recently disclosed that he was suffering from. Mr. Nimoy quit smoking over thirty years ago. After his diagnosis, he urged his fans to quit, with a surprisingly good-natured, “Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now.”
Without Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek probably never would have become the iconic success that it was. Without Star Trek, the shape of science fiction in popular culture would look very different. We owe him an incalculable debt.
He will be missed.