Friday, February 27, 2015

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy (1931 - 2015)

I can't believe this news is true. 

I don't want it to be true.

But The New York Time is now reporting the death of Leonard Nimoy, the talented actor who played Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek.

It is impossible for me -- in this moment of disbelief and sadness -- to report fully or in any sense cogently about what Mr. Nimoy meant to my life, or to Star Trek fans, or to science fiction in general.  

In his many performances as the half-Vulcan Spock, Mr. Nimoy showed audiences how they could love, appreciate, and respect someone who holds different beliefs than they do. 

Spock had pointed ears, pointed eye-brows, green blood and no emotions, but he was, nonetheless, the dearest of friends.

And playing a (noble) alien, Mr. Nimoy's Spock showed us also what it means to be human. Spock exposed the contradictions of humanity in a way that was not threatening to hear, or to see.  

He could make us see ourselves in ways we couldn't, or didn't want to. And again, we loved him for it. In his alien eyes, we recognized ourselves.

One might think that Spock was an easy or simple role to play...simply cut yourself off from your emotions, right? Be stoic!

But Leonard Nimoy persistently brought dignity, humor, intelligence, and sensitivity to the role. He could masterfully express how deeply Spock "cares" about his friends, or his parents, or his belief system without demonstrating anger or any other overt emotion.  

In short, Mr. Nimoy took a character that could have been wooden or two-dimensional and transformed him into a magical, beloved icon of American pop culture.

I know it is wrong to write about Mr. Nimoy simply as Spock, since he had a rich career beyond that role, in productions such as Mission: Impossible, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and beyond,  

But Spock is the character with whom Mr. Nimoy will forever be associated.  

He made that character his own, and offered the world a cool, intellectual, reasoned voice just when it was needed most -- at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and other frissons of the late 1960s.

I don't think I can bear to say much else at this particular moment.  

Not because Leonard Nimoy's life was unimportant, but because for so many of us, it was incredibly important.  

Like so many of you, I grew up with Nimoy's Spock -- the lonely outsider who found a home on the starship Enterprise -- and so to lose Mr. Nimoy is a terrible thing.

We all knew the day was coming.  And it is not logical to be taken by surprise by mortality, Spock might remind us at this juncture. 

 And yet still, Leonard Nimoy's passing is devastating.


  1. Incredibly sad. Such a great actor and man. He will be missed. Star Trek will never be the same without him but his fascinating Mr. Spock will live long and prosper.

  2. There are two men named Saurabh where Big Daddy works. One once had a beard and the other didn't. The once-bearded one we call Evil Saurabh, and the other one is Good Saurabh. Such is how the spirit of Mr. Spock permeates the crannies of the universe.

    Live long and prosper Evil Spock and Good Spock!

  3. .. oh... no... :(
    Well said.... and far better than I could assemble words at this news.

  4. John, well said.

    Leonard Nimoy was such a massive part of my '70s boyhood science-fiction experiences from TOS[reruns], TAS to TMP Movies. I was always glad to see him in both Star Trek and non-Trek projects over the past forty years. He will be missed.

    R.I.P. Mr. Nimoy
    SGB :(

  5. Grayson1:43 PM

    So very sad, but his spirit will live on in all of his great performances.

  6. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I just finished watching TOS last weekend. Sad news indeed.


  7. I cried when I read the headline. I'm sure many did; President Obama himself immediately issued a statement. There are so many great Leonard Nimoy moments to remember, but here is one of my favorites. During the first season of the remarkable series "Fringe," there were frequent references to an offstage character, Dr. William Bell, who figured in the characters' shared past and the build-up to the show's mythology. Sometimes such characters never actually appear, but in this case it seemed inevitable that eventually, we would see Bell. His first "appearance," very shrewdly, came during the playing of an old audiotape recording at the end of an episode late in the season - and suffice it to say that anyone who recognized that iconic voice, which had to be almost everyone watching, probably shivered at the revelation of just who was going to play Dr. William Bell. Wonderful moment.

  8. Some of the lessons I learned from Leonard Nimoy as Spock:

    - To be unique is a wonderful thing.

    - Respecting other people's diversity and talents is just as important as appreciating your own.

    - It's okay to be the smartest person in the room, but you can't use that as a club to smash other people.

    - There are always possibilities.

    Thank you for the lessons, Mr. Nimoy. I will forever be grateful.

  9. I would add that one of the things I love about the Spock character is that he is only APPARENTLY unemotional. This registered subtly in the original series, and more and more transparently as the run of movies continued.

  10. Yeah. This is a big one.

    Of course, whenever speaking heavily about pop-culture, I always do so with a certain grain of salt. Ultimately, it's not something that is really all that important, neither in the grand scheme of things nor in the immediacy of our personal lives; our health, family-and-friends, jobs, bills, first principles and all that. Most of pop-culture is fluffy, superficial nonsense, and sometimes just downright degenerative. Yet, when mined thoughtfully, there is content of intellectual value, or at least broad concepts that might inspire one in their own intellectual pursuits. While Mr. Spock was a make-pretend character from a ‘60s TV show, developed and written primarily for weekly, diverting entertainment, it would of course be lacking in precept to just assume that Roddenberry, the show’s writing staff and actor Nimoy himself managed the material without any deeper sincerity for genuine themes. Show business is show business but the core gravity of science fiction is something separate altogether; something inescapable. We entertain it because we’re driven by ideas. And Spock is a great idea.

    By the time the movie franchise kicked off, he was nothing less than a culture-wide pillar in the artistic expression of scientific ethics, exploration and civility. It is that emblematic aspect of the character that fascinates me. Spock has long since become such a figurative elder statesman—shorthand reference for the ideas he represents. But there’s something even more inherent to the character: he’s practically glyphic. Let’s think about this for a moment...

    You describe or provide a rough sketch for someone an image of a well-groomed Count with bloodsucking fangs and they will instantly recognize Dracula; a lurching giant with dead eyes and bolts in his neck, the Frankenstein monster; cape and horned cowl rooftop prowler, Batman. Even the most generic outline of a tuxedoed gent posing with a Walther PPK, everyone knows it’s James Bond

    Spock is right up there with the 20th century pantheon of universally identifiable monoliths of fiction. Hell, even without Nimoy’s face or the bright blue uniform shirt, the very silhouette of Spock -- Roman cut, pointed ears, Vulcan hand gesture -- is unmistakable. That being said, it is also the very personage of Nimoy that has defined the character for nearly 50 years.

    You’re right in that the guy was an artist of multiple other mediums and furthermore a husband and a father who lived a whole life of his own. But that’s the individual to be mourned by relatives, closest friends and loved ones. Most of us never knew that guy, so all we can do is respect such mourning from a distance. But Mr. Spock is someone who has been in my home; in my thoughts and memories and imaginations since I was a little kid, for which Nimoy was part and parcel responsible.

    So, yeah, the end of an epic run. Thank you, Mr. Nimoy.

  11. This hit me pretty hard. Not only have I loved his work as an artist in various fields with much of his work being part of my growing up (Star Trek and In Search Of in particular) he also seems to have been a genuinely decent human being. I kind of subconsciously expected he would be around for ages to come just like Spock's long Vulcan life span allowed the character to be present in so much of Star Trek.

  12. A wise man once said of another man who was about to have a shortened life and who'd decided to devote the rest of it to improving the human condition, 'On that day (of his death), I shall mourn.' Now, the actor who played that wise man is himself gone-and, I'm mourning him.
    May the light be with you always, Leonard, and with us.