As a gamer and overall nerd, nothing entranced me more than the early episodes of Star Trek with Captain Kirk and Spock. Though I had almost no access to the series in my hometown of Graaff-Reinet, I did watch some of the movies and caught parts of the series on VHS. You may not know it, but Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy’s character played such a big part in the childhood of so many people that parts of Spock’s personality were scattered into characters from other TV series or video games. Leonard Nimoy passed away on 27 February 2015 from complications arising from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he attributed to years of chain smoking habits early in his professional career.
As Spock, Nimoy gave Star Trek fans a view into an entirely new civilisation that was largely influenced by Nimoy’s ideas. The Vulcan salute was created by Nimoy after being inspired by traditional Jewish rituals he observed as a child. Nimoy played the role of Spock in the TV series from 1965 to 1969, starred in eight feature films set in the Star Trek universe, was in numerous spin-off series and earned Nimoy three Emmy Award nominations. Nimoy’s association with Spock became so entrenched that he wrote two books (I Am Not Spock; I Am Spock) that dealt with Nimoy’s acceptance of the character in his personal life and sharing his existence with a persona that became much more than a simple role. Nimoy managed to avoid being typecast as a Spock-like character in many of his other film and TV appearances, though he is quoted as saying that returning to the role of Spock was “almost like coming home.”
The videogame industry played a smaller role in Nimoy’s career, but was nonetheless important. He was the narrator in Sid Meier’s Civilisation IV, which went on to sell more than 3 million copies and garnered multiple Game of the Year awards from various publications. Nimoy also played the role of Master Xenahort in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep as well as well as Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Tetsuya Nomura, the director of Birth by Sleep, told the press that he chose Nimoy because of his portrayal of Spock. It was one of the few roles that Nimoy took on that cast him as the main villain.
Nimoy also voiced Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a role given to him following his voicing of Galvatron in Transformers: The Movie (the animated one, not the horrible one with Megan Fox). Nimoy also lent his voice to Crytic Studio’s Star Trek Online, which still sees a surprising amount of players that are newly attracted to it. In paying their respects to Nimoy, Cryptic Studios has announced that they will be building a permanent shrine to Nimoy in the game, which will be viewable from 5 March 2015. Currently there are masses of players visiting Spock’s home planet of Vulcan and holding silent wakes in memorial. Nimoy’s last physical appearance as Spock was in 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, though he officially retired from playing the character in 2010, saying that Zachary Quinto should be allowed to carry on the character in his own way.
To the tail end of his career, Nimoy became an avid photographer, capturing images of things that he found fascinating, or exploring the human condition. One of his best works is “The Full Body Project,” a collection of images of big-bodied women in what Nimoy called “a celebration of what is natural.” He frequently spoke against the trends in the fashion world that called for women to be thinner in order to be deemed attractive. Nimoy studied Photography at the University of California in the early 1970s, a hobby he picked up (as well as a lifelong fascination) to give him something to fill the void after leaving Star Trek in 1969. His work has been displayed in the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary art.
Nimoy loved to sing and released five albums and wrote a song about Bilbo Baggins, the video of which is embedded above. All through his life he was an active member of the Jewish community he was born into. Nimoy also believed in equal rights for all and persuaded the producers of Star Trek to give Nichelle Nichols equal pay in comparison to his own salary. Nichols’ role in Star Trek was the first ever for a black woman in the US in the late 1960s that did not give the actor a role as a servant.
Leonard Nimoy leaves behind his wife, two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, as well as hundreds of millions of fans who remembered him for the character that he assimilated into himself as much by accident as it was by choice.
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” – Leonard Nimoy, dated 23 February 2015