Reflections on the Passing of Actor Leonard Nimoy
Actor Leonard Nimoy, Spock of the original “Star Trek” TV series, died yesterday at the age of 83. Nimoy wasn’t solely an actor — he was a musician, a poet, a photographer, and a movie director, among many other things — but he was known mostly for bringing one role to life: Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Spock, the quintessential outsider.
Spock, a type of Everyman who could comment, dispassionately, about subjects otherwise often seen as off-limits in contemporary society (much less TV).
Many people are going to be discussing Nimoy’s legacy, and rightfully so. He was a brilliant actor, and in many ways he was at the center of what “Star Trek” was all about.
But my own reflections are far closer to home than that.
When I was young, I discovered “Star Trek” on television in syndication. I was a fan of DeForest Kelley’s Leonard “Bones” McCoy more than Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, mind you, but without Spock’s dispassion, McCoy’s emotional outbursts would’ve had no foil and much less resonance. Somehow, even in my early teens, I picked up on this, and wanted to know more about the actors behind “Star Trek.”
So I read Leonard Nimoy’s first biography, I AM NOT SPOCK. What I found out was that Nimoy was many things besides his most famous, iconic role. His journey as an artist and a sensitive soul was one of my biggest inspirations as a teenager.
It was because of Nimoy’s book, at least in part, that I realized you could be different and still be a good person. That you could be a sensitive artist who your parents did not understand — as his own parents definitely didn’t understand Nimoy’s passion for acting, or the arts in general — and still be able to forge a good life for yourself. And I learned that sometimes it takes time for your vision of yourself to be realized — as Nimoy struggled for years as an actor before he finally landed his role on “Star Trek.”
I did not know Mr. Nimoy, except for watching him on TV and once, very briefly, meeting him at a science fiction convention. But he seemed to me to be a man of worth, talent, and grace.
I mourn his passing.