Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP, Leonard Nimoy

I am a second-generation Trekker, and happily raised a third. As such, there's a huge amount of admiration and gratitude I feel for Mr. Spock, and the actor who played him so very well.

Today, Leonard Nimoy lost his fight with COPD. We lost the man who made us all fall in love, quite illogically, with a character incapable of loving us back. 

I met Leonard Nimoy in the late 90's. I was working as a bar manager in an international airport, and one day I turned around...and Leonard Nimoy was at the bar.

As I served him some food, I told him how much I'd enjoyed a recent television documentary on the Roman catacombs that he had narrated. He smiled. There was something about seeing a man who forged a career out of acting without emotion break into a radiant smile. I Will always remember that.

And yes, he was a good tipper. I kept a small coin he gave me. I still have it. 

But Leonard Nimoy was more than Spock. Much more.

He was a gifted actor of stage, film and small screen. IMDb lists 134 acting credits to his name. He was an in-demand guest star who appeared on "The Big Bang Theory," "Becker," "Dragnet," "Perry Mason" and "Fringe," among many others.

In addition to "Star Trek," he starred in three other series: "Mission: Impossible," "Ancient Mysteries," and the cult classic, "In Search Of."

He was a gifted photographer as well.

My favorite of his photography projects featured a wide variety ages and body types, focusing on the beauty of all women. 

He was a writer, though something of a contradictory one; his two biographies are "I Am Not Spock" and...

..."I Am Spock."

Nimoy's writing wasn't solely autobiographical. He was also a gifted poet with several published works.

And he even wrote comic books!

He was a prolific musician, with a number of albums to his credit.

His song based on "The Hobbit," titled "The Ballad of Biblo Baggins," is a perennial favorite of Dr. Demento and his many fans. 

His distinctive voice was put to use in more than just records. In his long career, he did voice overs for a number of different documentaries and cartoons. It started with Spock on "Star Trek: The Animated Series."

His many voiceover credits include "The Simpsons," "Transformers" and "Futurama."

He was an intellectual, who was comfortable discussing literature, current events and his interest in history. He had a thirst for knowledge, and his joy in finding it was palpable...and contagious.

He was Jewish (and mentioned in Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song"), and a marvelous scholar of Judaism. My favorite interview of his came via his co-star and longtime friend William Shatner. 

During that interview on Shatner's show, "Raw Nerve," Nimoy spoke of how his famous "Vulcan Salute" has its roots in Judaic tradition.

Nimoy spoke Yiddish, and has worked with others to encourage the teaching and preserving of the language.

Nimoy found success both in front of and behind the camera. He sat at the helm of the best of the "Star Trek" films, including the only such movie whose title included one of the Enterprise's crew: "The Search for Spock."

Spock was the first major Trek character to die, but the fans weren't ready to let him go. A feeling which we are, today, acutely aware of once again.

He had a marvelous sense of humor, and never seemed to take himself too seriously. 

You'd see this in his guest roles, in his interviews, in convention Q&A's. There's no shortage of photos of his wide smile... 

...nor shortage of proof of his lovely laugh, never in short supply.

He was a family man, who professed that one of the greatest difficulties in his life was having to tell his parents that his first marriage had failed. It had been many years in the past when he spoke of this chapter of his life on "Raw Nerve," but the pain of it was still visible on his familiar face. 

Although at times the legacy of Spock was a thorny one to carry, he carried it well and treated his fans with the greatest of care and respect.

Never was that level of caring for his fans more evident than in a 1968 magazine article, "Teenage Outcast," where Nimoy advised a young lady on how to respond to prejudice (it can be read here:

His advice to his this young lady, and indeed to all his fans was to be true to who you are...

...and to cherish the people who love you for it.

He was proud to be part of Gene Roddenberry's vision. 

He was proud to represent the countless fans who saw the potential of the future "Star Trek" painted so very vividly. A future where the sky is no longer the limit, and where every now and again, the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many or the few.

Spock would say that was illogical. But I think Leonard Nimoy would break into that smile, like the one directed at a young bartender who'd come face-to-face with a legend of science fiction.

He lived long and prospered. And in true Spock fashion, that long and prosperous life was indeed...fascinating.

RIP, Leonard Nimoy.