Thursday 19 October 2017

He lived long and prospered: Spock actor Leonard Nimoy dies aged 83

Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek. Photo: Getty
Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek. Photo: Getty
Star Trek cast
Leonard Nimoy in 2013. Photo: Getty

Adam Lusher

Leonard Nimoy, the actor known to generations of 'Star Trek' fans as Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer of the starship Enterprise, has died at the age of 83.

His son Adam said the actor died yesterday morning at his Los Angeles home of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Although Nimoy had a notable career and interests outside of 'Star Trek', it is as the pointy-eared, logical and emotionally constrained counterpoint to William Shatner's passionate Captain Kirk that he will inevitably be remembered.

The role won him a global following of fanatical Trekkies, or Trekkers, as the actor preferred to call the costume-wearing fans who hung on his every word at 'Star Trek' conventions.

Spokesman for USS Cuchulain, the Irish 'Star Trek' fan club, Gian Commande, said Mr Nemoy's character would remain "the face" of the popular series in spite of the actor's death. "We're very shocked. A lot of people who got involved in the group would be a fan of the original series, and they really looked up to Spock. He looked at the world in a different way and saw the good in everybody," he said.

"People will always associate Leonard Nemoy with 'Star Trek'. He is so much part of pop culture. If you say to people, 'Live long and prosper', they'll always see him in that blue uniform."

Nimoy was credited with creating the spread-fingered Vulcan "live long and prosper" salute - a gesture every bit as memorable as the way he used his sonorous voice to play the logical Vulcan.

The idea, he said, came from boyhood visits to a synagogue with his grandfather, where blessings were offered by using fingers in a similar way to represent the Hebrew letter Shin to stand for El Shaddai, God Almighty.

The Vulcan nerve pinch - pinching a pressure point at the base of the opponent's neck - was another of Nimoy's suggestions.

He had felt that the requirement for him merely to strike an evil version of Kirk on the back of the head in the 1966 episode 'The Enemy Within' was out of Vulcan character.

The global fame, and the series of 'Star Trek' films in which he starred, came despite the US network NBC cancelling the original TV series because of low ratings after three series and 79 episodes in 1969. By then, however, the show had attracted a cult following that would grow stronger over the intervening decades, ensuring that Nimoy became a star.

His career had involved mainly bit parts in TV series including 'Bonanza' and 'Wagon Train', when he was picked to play Spock in 'Star Trek', which first aired in 1966.

Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, hailed him as "the conscience of 'Star Trek'". Playing the emotionless Spock for up to 14 hours a day did, however, affect his off-screen personality. He would find himself staying in character for most of the weekend, being able to shake off Spock's ultra-rationality only by Sunday afternoon.

Nimoy's accomplishments were impressively numerous. He was a prolific poet; he published books of his photography and released five music albums.

His director's credits did include 'Star Trek' fare. He directed 'Star Trek III: The Search for Spock' (1984) and 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home' (1986), and was also the executive producer and a writer of 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country'. Such was his range, however, that he also achieved huge success directing the 1987 hit comedy 'Three Men and a Baby'.

Given the breadth of his talents, it was perhaps understandable that he entitled his 1975 autobiography 'I Am Not Spock'. By the time of the 1995 follow-up, however, the negative fan reaction to the first title gave him the idea of perhaps reconciling himself to his fate, and ended up calling the book 'I Am Spock'. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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