Leonard Nimoy, the man who maintained an image as cultural icon across several generations, is gone. The talented individual who signed off on his Twitter feed with LLAP (Live Long and Prosper) will do so no more.The 83 year old actor became a household name in the 1960s when he portrayed Spock, half human, half Vulcan, who was the first officer on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in “Star Trek.”
The character became a hit with audiences, although not with producers who wanted the role written out of the show. The show struggled to find enough fans overall but Spock became so popular that the show’s touted star, Bill Shatner, was a little put out that the Vulcan got more fan mail than he did. There were rumors of quibbling between the two stars when the show was on its short three year run.
Later on, in the 1999 comedy “Galaxy Quest,” Tim Allen and Alan Rickman would play character’s based upon Shatner and Nimoy, respectively, and both did a brilliant job parodying the “rumored” relationship of the two.
Nimoy became so connected to the role in Roddenberry’s space opera that it was shocking to see him without the “elf” (or satanic as the producers called them) ears of his character. The actor was, however, believable in whatever role he played.
Whether he was a villainous “mercenary” gunslinger (1971 “Catlow”) or a shrink (1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” [remake]) he was entertaining and watchable. But it was Spock that Nimoy was best known for and while he would leave the logic bound alien behind in his twilight years, most notably in the 2009 – 2012 television science fiction show “Fringe.”
Leonard was rushed to hospital with severe chest pains last week and this morning the world learned that the multitalented performer had died at home. Nimoy tweeted more than a year before his hospital visit, in January 2014, and told his fans that despite quitting smoking over 30 years ago, that he had COPD and he should have quit sooner. He ended his tweet saying “Grandpa says, quit now!” and finished, as with all his missives on Twitter, with LLAP.
That the actor had a “love/hate” relationship with his character on “Star Trek” in the beginning was a well known fact, back in the day. His two autobiographies related his search to “live” or come to terms with the consequences of being Spock, the first “I Am Not Spock” was followed later with “I Am Spock.”
One thing is certain. Bill Shatner has more than a fair share of those who worked with him in the TV series and the films who do not get on with him. Shatner is a larger than life character off set who makes no apologies for his opinions or for stepping on the toes of others. As he has aged, he has mellowed very little and is still one exciting individual to witness at conventions. Leonard Nimoy, on the other hand seems to have more than his fair share of friends from both small screen and large.
Nimoy, apart from spending a lot of time directing, doing one-man shows and playing Spock in various mediums, had become a sort of elder statesman for Science Fiction and “Star Trek,” as well as an almost mythic pop culture icon. It only takes the sound of the actor’s voice to bring back memories of his performances as the Vulcan so loved on screen.
The perfect example of this was the screening of the 2009 Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana “Star Trek.” Watching the film in England, when Spock (Leonard) starts reciting the “boldly going” speech at the end of the film, I was engulfed in goosebumps and the rest of the usually reserved British audience stood up in the theatre and cheered.
The loss of Leonard Nimoy at 83 is devastating. It almost feels like the spirit of Spock has died and in essence it has. The actor was the one who brought the half-alien character to life. It was his embodiment of the role that made the pointy eared chap so real. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and wife Susan and we will all miss those LLAP tweets from the man himself.
27 February 2015