Veteran actor Leonard Nimoy, a man beloved for playing an aloof half-human, half alien named Spock, has died. According to his family, Nimoy succumbed to “end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” on Friday morning at his Bel-Air home in Los Angeles.
Whether we thought of ourselves as Trekkies or Trekkers, we all loved Spock, the Vulcan second-in-command of the Federation starship Enterprise from the groundbreaking TV series, Star Trek With this futuristic space odyssey, creator Gene Roddenberry launched audiences into a bold new universe of characters far ahead of the times. We first met the mercurial Captain James T. Kirk and his constant and unflappable foil, Nimoy’s Mr. Spock, when the series went on the air in 1966.
When he was cast on the show that would make him a star, Nimoy expressed reservations that the program would find a following. He couldn’t have been more misguided on that score. Though Star Trek lasted a short three seasons in its initial run on network television, the show quickly developed something approaching cult status. In syndication, the original series attracted an ever-increasing following and spawned conventions, fanzines, films featuring the original cast, television series spin offs and, ultimately, a rebranding of the franchise with the original characters played by another generation of actors.
Nimoy began his career in acting in the fifties, but he did not limit his artistic expression to the stage or screen. He was an avid poet, musician and photographer. Last year, he disclosed he had been diagnosed with the illness as a result, he said, of the many years in which he smoked – a habit he gave up 30 years ago.
Even the nation’s chief executive admitted to long being a fan. The White House released a statement from President Obama in which he said of the actor, “Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy…a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek‘s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.
“I loved Spock,” the President added.”It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for ‘Live long and prosper.’ And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.”