There are only a few characters that become deeply engrained in popular culture, personified with such compelling presence and individualism that they have enduring longevity long after they first appeared on our television screens.
Never was there such an iconic figure as Star Trek’s Mr Spock.
A stoic half-human, half-alien (Vulcan to be precise), Spock functioned on logic over emotion – though he was not immune to outbursts of emotive influence due to the human part of his disposition. Visually memorable with the subtle aesthetics of his pointed ears and arched brows, Spock’s calm rationale and humorous clashes with the more emotionally high-strung Dr. McCoy imbued upon us a well-rounded character.
Oh, and having a catchphrase didn’t hurt his success either!
‘Live long and prosper.’ Who hasn’t heard this line before? In fact, who hasn’t said this line before?
But Mr Spock wouldn’t be such a great character without such a great actor to play the role. Leonard Nimoy was that man. It’s hard not to praise a man’s ability to get into the mindset of a character where emotions are pushed far aside to handle situations with wisdom and rationale. This role would become his most prominent and the one that he will always be remembered for first and foremost. And to be honest, with a character this fantastically sculpted, it was no boon to be tied perpetually to that role.
But lest we forget, Leonard Nimoy did not solely act in the role of Mr Spock. His acting and voice work spanned over the course of six decades!
Born March 26th, 1931, he began his acting career in 1951 and took on numerous small roles, including appearing in the films: Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) and The Brain Eaters (1958); and minor parts in the television shows: Bonanza, Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Between appearing in the original Star Trek feature films that span from 1979 – 1991, he would also do voice work in Transformers: The Movie (1986) and play a guest role in T. J. Hooker which starred his Star Trek co-star Williams Shatner as the title character.
He had many memorable guest appearances; one I particularly remember with affection was his voice role playing himself in The Simpsons. Even more recently – which many might recall – he did voice work in a dream sequence for a toy of Mr. Spock in The Big Bang Theory. He also received acclaim for a voice role in the movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).
Even if you had not seen much of his original work as Mr. Spock, he reprised the role for today’s audience in the rebooted Star Trek (2009) and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).
It’s needless to say, but the impact of Leonard Nimoy’s passing has been immense. For an actor who endeared himself to audiences globally and had become such a prominent part of entertainment and culture, it was always going to be a huge shock (whether you were a fan of Star Trek or not) to hear of his death. Such figures always seem like they’ll last forever, just like the characters they play.
As a huge Sci-Fi fan and someone who has always had a place in her heart for Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy was a key part of my childhood, and always someone to be admired. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was my introduction to Leonard Nimoy and the Spock character as a child, a movie I cherish dearly (whales save the planet!). There is no doubt many of you will have your own memories of being introduced to Leonard Nimoy and why he has always remained deep in your hearts.
With sadness we say goodbye to a true star who walked amongst us. Leonard Nimoy engaged and inspired many a curious and adventurous mind. We shall never forget what he gave through his incredible talents, and may future generations will continue to appreciate his amazing legacy.
Image © Paramount/Gene Roddenberry