By Nur Hussein
Leonard Nimoy passed away today. The legendary actor who played Spock on Star Trek, is no longer with us.
I couldn’t even begin to process the information when I first read about it. The fact that he was admitted into hospital for chest pains a week ago on Thursday was alarming, but we hoped he’d pull through. He has been in and out of hospital quite frequently due to pulmonary disease, a sickness he attributed to his smoking habits when he was younger (but had since given up for 30 years). However, Nimoy succumbed to the disease this morning, and thus we have lost a legend. A genial and inspiring figure, he told his Twitter followers that he was our honorary grandfather, and today we feel like we’ve lost our own grandfather.
I had the privilege of seeing him in person in 2012, when he gave a speech at a Boston University commencement ceremony. I had seen Spock countless times on TV and in movies, but when he spoke that day I felt like I had truly met the man behind the legend.
Nimoy was born in Boston in 1931, the son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine part of the former Soviet Union. He spoke of how he felt like an outsider, and how that influenced how he interpreted his role as Spock. Most of us (especially in fandom) have all felt that alienation; it was that which made us connect all the more with with his character.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Nimoy’s early roles were small parts on television and film, but it was only in 1964 he was cast as Spock in his most iconic role. He was 33, the same age I was when I listened to his commencement speech; I felt like I hadn’t achieved much then, but it was encouraging to know that I did not know what good things lay ahead (as neither did Nimoy then).
Nimoy wrote two autobiographies, the first published in 1977 titled I Am Not Spock, and in 1995, he wrote a second one titled I Am Spock. In the first book, he attempted to disassociate himself with his character, but he maintains that he loved playing the role. Fan reactions to the title weren’t positive, so he addressed it with the title of his second book. However, he has always relished being Spock on screen.
Besides acting, Nimoy was an accomplished director, poet, musician and photographer. Truly an artist, Nimoy expressed himself through many mediums. Nimoy has five recorded musical albums, created photographs which went on exhibit at galleries at museums, published several volumes of poetry, and has done stage acting. He regularly does voice acting work. He was the voice of Galvatron (in 1986’s animated Transformers the Movie) and Sentinel Prime (in Michael Bay’s live action movies). His gravitas-laden voice was excellent at narration, and you can hear his voice narrating documentaries, short films, and TV series. When I visited the Mugar Omni Theatre in the Boston Museum of Science, I was delighted to hear Nimoy, whimsically going “who put the bomp in the bomp shabomp shabomp” as a sound test. When I visited the space shuttle Enterprise exhibit at the Intrepid Museum in New York, once again I heard his voice narrating the little documentary they were playing at the exhibit.
Even though most of us did not know him personally, his iconic, defining role as the beloved character Spock on Star Trek, along with the warm personality of the real Nimoy himself, we feel like we have known him all our lives. He was the comforting voice of reason, both on screen and in real life, bringing joy and hope into our lives. He spoke to us with love and compassion, and the world is diminished by his loss.
Rest in peace sir, for you have been, and always shall be, our friend.
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Leonard Nimoy donated significantly to the refurbishment of the historic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and the “Event Horizon” theater there owes its existence to Mr. Nimoy.
Funerary arrangements have not yet been announced.
Fans wanting to pay tribute to Mr. Nimoy may wish to visit his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6651 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California.
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein