I was very saddened to learn today of the death of Leonard Nimoy at age 83. He was an accomplished stage and screen actor, poet, and photographer — but to those of us who loved Star Trek, he will always and forever be the man who created Mr. Spock.
Books have been written about Spock and Kirk and McCoy, the complex relationship between that trio that made Star Trek such a terrific show, and the half-Vulcan character who struggled mightily to keep his human side in check in compliance with the dictates of Vulcan culture and its relentless emphasis on logic. Nimoy made Spock a believable character — and thus a great character — when he very easily could have been as silly as Jar Jar Binks. After all, an alien with pointed ears, green skin and super-human strength who eschews all emotion? But thanks to Nimoy’s deft touch, Spock was as real and complex and layered as any character in the TV or film universe. And, for those of us who were awkward adolescents at the time, dealing with a rush of weird new emotions and our own feelings of not quite fitting in with the rest of the world, Spock was enormously appealing.
I also liked that Nimoy seemed to struggle with the Spock character almost as much as Spock struggled with his human side. Nimoy knew immediately that Spock was an iconic character, and he wanted to avoid being typecast. When the Star Trek series ended, he promptly took on a completely different role as Paris on Mission: Impossible, wrote an autobiography called I Am Not Spock, and seemed to constantly reject the great character he created. But ultimately he relented, reconnected with the role, and played Spock in a long series of movies and TV appearances — and Star Trek fans are grateful that he did. Indeed, his connection with the character became such that he wrote a later autobiography called I Am Spock, and by the end of his life, as Richard points out, Nimoy ended his tweets with LLAP — a reference to Spock’s great Vulcan salutation.
Live Long and Prosper. What a wonderful, simple sentiment from what was supposed to be an unemotional culture! Nimoy lived that sentiment and gave us an unforgettable creation. He will be sorely missed.